Brighton SolFed Campaign Against the Sidewinder Concludes with Management Quitting the Pub

Brighton SolFed recently entered into a public dispute with the Sidewinder to get them to pay compensation for the unfair dismissal of one of their workers. The worker was dismissed for calling in sick once after having worked at the pub for about nine months.

 

The pressure on the Sidewinder has been rising steadily over the passed few weeks as the frequency of our pickets increased. With result! Although the Sidewinder still refuses to pay compensation, they did pay up the unpaid holiday pay, and the management has let us know they have handed in their notice.

 

Organising with Brighton SolFed

Brighton SolFed's statement on solidarity in the struggle

This information has been put together for groups who may be interested in affiliating to or organising with us. We regularly work with other groups. However, before formally working together, we actively check how safely a group organises and their connections to known-abusers, as a pre-condition.

Inclusion
SolFed welcomes working class people of all education backgrounds, genders, sexuality, ethnicity, race, immigration status and those with all forms of accessibility needs*; (other than people barred by our constitution).

G4Lets: one group of tenants reclaim £1000 stolen from their deposit, whilst another receives a rent reduction for poor quality accommodation

Since September 2018, we have been organising with two different groups of tenants – one who had their deposit stolen by G4Lets, and one living in accommodation in a serious state of disrepair. We’re pleased to report that both of these situations concluded well, with the first group of tenants receiving £1000 back from their stolen deposit, and the second group receiving a rent reduction for the poor quality of their accommodation, and with the works being carried out. Below is the story of these two disputes, particularly how they relate to our previous disputes with G4Lets and the tactics we used in these two most recent disputes.

Fox & Sons dispute concludes with second landlord quitting the agency

We have concluded our dispute with Fox & Sons after a second landlord quit the agency following a short direct action campaign against their business. This follows another landlord who quit the agency in February after a similar campaign. Our campaign against Fox & Sons has been ongoing for four and a half months, and the loss of these landlords – from whom Fox & Sons would have taken 16% of the rent for a full management service, on top of all the fees they charge – coupled to the damage to their business caused by the campaign, is likely to have cost them thousands of pounds.

Brighton Solfed Starts Campaign Against The Sidewinder Pub

Brighton Solidarity Federation has opened a public campaign against The Sidewinder on Upper St James in Kemp Town. We were approached by a worker who was immediately dismissed just for calling in sick for one shift. The worker was also owed unpaid holiday entitlement.


We wrote to The Sidewinder asking that they pay compensation for unfair dismissal and fork out the owed holiday pay.  They have now paid the holiday pay, but have refused demands for compensation, accusing us of blackmail. Clearly, The Sidewinder thinks that not providing employees with contracts, holiday pay, failing to follow grievence procedures and dismissing workers for being ill is acceptable.

Demand letter delivery wins dispute with student lettings agency

In late October 2018, we organised with a student tenant who was being messed around with a disrepair issue by a well-known student lettings agency. We’d beaten this agency before via a direct-action campaign – this time all it took was the delivery of a demand letter to get this tenant compensation. Below, the tenants tells the story of the dispute.

One of our toilets was out of action for the best part of six months. If used, faeces would back up and overflow out of the toilet. This plumbing damage was caused by a fire that wasn’t disclosed to us. Although we had use of another toilet, the toilet that was overflowing was directly next door to the kitchen that meant alongside being inconvenienced, it was quite a disgusting and hazardous living situation prior to calling the plumbers to fix it.

Landlord drops Fox & Sons after single picket, whilst our campaign escalates to Jade Software in Australia

It’s been a good week in our dispute with Fox & Sons. On Wednesday we picketed the business of a landlord who rents a property out through Fox & Sons; by Thursday she had dropped them as her letting agent. We’d written to this landlord one week previously, explaining Fox & Sons’ systematic mistreatment of their tenants, and demanded that she either drop them as her agency or speak to them and tell them to pay compensation to the tenants involved in our ongoing dispute with them. This landlord chose to do neither, so we staged a picket outside her business on Wednesday 6th February, informing passers by about her association with Fox & Sons.

The holiday season might be over, but your entitlement lasts all year!

We recently had another success against more shoddy employment practice. A well renowned central Brighton pub had not paid one of its workers any holiday entitlement and not provided payslips that matched the working hours completed. Unfortunately for them, their worker is a friend of Brighton SolFed and knew they were being stitched up.


Management were initially dismissive. They did think they might owe the worker an extra days pay, but we reminded them it was quite considerably higher. After a detailed demand letter was sent, the establishment paid their dues within the deadline. However, we still await the missing paperwork, so watch this space.

 

Council's scandalous incompetence leaves vulnerable tenant facing homelessness!

Patrick, a tenant we have been organising with for the past year, is facing homelessness after disgraceful treatment by Brighton Council, who have systematically failed to carry out their most basic duties, leaving Patrick with no protection against eviction by his landlord. For details of the history of this case see here: http://www.brightonsolfed.org.uk/brighton/the-arrogance-continues-and-so...

Dispute extended to Skipton Building Society, billionaire owners of Fox & Sons

Brighton SolFed’s public campaign against Fox & Sons has now been extended to their parent company, Skipton Building Society. With Fox & Sons still refusing to compensate the six tenants whose tenancy they cancelled five days after it was supposed to start, leaving them with nowhere to live, we contacted David Cutter, the chief executive of Skipton, and Gary Morton of their lettings branch Connells, to demand that they resolve the issue. Both Mr Cutter and Mr Morton refused to do so, meaning that we are today (Saturday 19th January) extending our campaign to pickets of Skipton branches across the country. This follows an initial picket of Skipton by Manchester SolFed last Saturday 12th January.

Fox & Sons dispute: money-grabbing agency withholds £720 compensation payment

Our public dispute with Fox & Sons has continued into the new year, with the agency still failing to adequately compensate six former tenants who they left homeless five days after their tenancy was supposed to start. This failure has been made starker through the revelation that Fox & Sons demanded £720 compensation from the property company, Jears Properties Limited, that own the house the tenants were to move in to.

Bully agents uses police to intimidate tenants: Brighton SolFed's dispute with Fox & Sons escalates

We recently opened a public dispute against multi-branch letting agency Fox & Sons, in support of a group of tenants who had their tenancy delayed and then completely withdrawn five days after the start of their agreed move-in date. As a result of this mismanagement by the agency, the tenants had to find a last minute alternative accommodation, which ended up being far above their budget. The tenants are now demanding that the agency pays them compensation to cover at least part of the additional costs that their new tenancy requires for an initial period. This would be a way for Fox & Sons to make up for the difficult financial situation that the tenants were forced into.

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We are an anarcho-syndicalist union based in Brighton. We have ongoing campaigns in Hospitality and in Health & social care, but we aim to organise with workers of all industries and none. We also have a very active housing union.

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