Precarious Mayday marks the start of dispute with Ephesus restaurant

International Workers Day was celebrated in Brighton with the coming together of different groups in struggle and to show each other a bit of solidarity. Compared to the previous years where Brighton Solfed organised Mayday ourselves, this time we worked alongside Brighton Anti-Fascists, Deliveroo riders in IWGB, members of Plan C, Precarious Workers Brighton and Brighton University Alternative Students Union.

There were over a hundred people at the demo which marched with banners through the streets of Brighton to a banging sound system, flares and chants.

First stop was Brighton Solfeds dispute with the Ephesus Restaurant, an establishment that follows poor and unlawful employment practice, including not paying holiday pay or even the minimum wage, and using tips from customers to make up the minimum wage for the workers. We are supporting a worker who is owed over £2000 in these matters and who also commented that some of the workers who are in a more precarious position are paid even less than this.

On our arrival we were met by police vans and a police line in front of the restaurant. Once the demo assembled outside, we explained why we were paying them a visit. We tried to push past the police to talk to the management and demand the unpaid wages and holiday pay but were refused entry. Eventually the police sergeant went in to facilitate a meeting, and at first only one person was allowed in but we demanded the worker was allowed in with a Solfed member. Once we were in, the worker directly confronted management and would not take any of their excuses. The management complained that it did not “need to come to this”, however they refused to speak to us until we forced them to listen. We left the restaurant with a promise that they will get in touch with the amount they would pay.

We walked out of the restaurant to cheers and singing of ‘Solidarity Forever’.

The demo then marched through to the clock tower to block the road and listen to words of thanks from the aggrieved worker, Deliveroo riders, and Palestinian and Kurdish activists. The main emphasis was that when we come together we have more power, while solidarity goes a long way for both the individual and the collective!

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This article was published on 13 May 2017 by the SolFed group in Brighton. Other recent articles: