Poster to publicise the Health & Social Care network set up by Brighton Solfed
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.
When management at the University of Sussex announced plans to outsource 235 jobs, workers responded by launching a 'Pop-Up Union', a new tactic in modern British industrial relations. Is this a model other workers can emulate? Solfed members involved in the Pop Up Union analyse what happened.
Touted by some union leaders as the largest co-ordinated union action in British history, July 10 sees millions of public sector workers from across the country on strike. During the one-day action – with the promise of more days to follow - local government workers will join teachers, civil servants, fire fighters and many others.
July 10 public sector strike, stolen wage disputes at a restaurant and a greengrocer, and holiay pay.
Launch of the BHW campaign, migrant worker experience, hotel cleaner wage dispute, and your rights when starting a new job.
Victory in wages dispute! Following a prolonged campaign against a high-profile Brighton grocer, a former cashier worker & BHW member has received £1,250 in owed wages and unpaid holiday entitlement. The worker, who was on a zero-hours contract, was sacked without notice following 3 weeks when the bosses refused to give her any hours. She was also owed holiday pay from the previous & current holiday year for leave she was prevented from taking.
Another victory for Brighton Hospitality Workers and for direct action! In February, two members of Brighton Hospitality Workers (BHW) brought unpaid holiday entitlement issues to the group, incurred while both had worked at the Brighton premisis of a transnational hotel chain. The hotel's housekeeping staff were contracted to work there by the UK operation of an international recruitment exploiter with a reputation for withholding pay, particularly after contracts had been terminated. One worker was owed £286 in holiday pay for leave she was prevented from taking, despite repeated requests to her manager, as well as 2 days' outstanding sick pay. The second worker was owed £180 in holiday pay, also for leave she was prevented from taking, again despite repeated requests – in December her boss told her she 'had lost' her right to take paid leave.
On Saturday 22nd March members of the Brighton Hospitality Workers and Brighton Solidarity Federation picketted a prominent Brighton hotel over unpaid overtime owed to members of staff.
The hotel has since promised to ensure the overtime owed is fully paid. We are therefore not currently naming the hotel, although we intend to escalate our campaign should they fail to pay the workers involved.
After several months of organising, Brighton Hospitality Workers are beginning to deliver the goods. Three members recently approached us with issues concerning unpaid wages and holiday entitlement from former employers, all with employment agencies and on zero-hours contracts. Demand letters were sent and within 48 hours one worker had wages paid in full, amounting to £264. However, the bosses were dragging their heels over paying holiday entitlement for untaken leave and another demand letter was sent, again resulting in payment of £95. Another worker’s demand letter resulted in payment of £358 in owed wages, although this should have been £385 and we’re not giving up on this. The third worker, who was with the same scumbag agency, is still owed £176 in unpaid holiday entitlement after the demand letter was ignored.
Last Friday, the 27th December, Brighton SolFed members and Spanish migrant workers from the collective “Marea Granate”, were in Churchill Square supporting a coordinated international protest against the current wave of repression in Spain. The protest was in response to the call for solidarity by our Spanish comrades.
Last November, thirty workers were arrested because of their participation in an education strike. This is only one more step in the repression and intimidation strategy of the Spanish government. The increase of detentions and the new laws against the protests, show that they want ordinary people to keep quiet while they dismantle basic civil rights and attack their live conditions.
Brighton Solidarity Federation are calling for a day of solidarity with comrades in Spain currently suffering detention and harassment by the state. We'll be unfurling a banner and distributing propaganda about the situation which has reached critical levels for both the anarchist movement and the Spanish people. We are also calling for a communications blockade of the Spanish embassy and consulate in London (details of stall and blockade below). From our leaflet:
Encouraged by the positive response to our recent publicity campaign, Brighton Hospitality Workers are holding our first open meeting. This will be an opportunity for workers to meet, share experiences and discuss how we can collectively tackle issues in the workplace, no matter how seemingly minor. We’ll be promoting the benefits of workers’ self-organisation in a sector where lack of employment rights and exploitation are commonplace. Towards mutual support and solidarity - all welcome!
Monday 2nd December, 6-8 pm at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton BN2 4JA (near to St. Peter’s Church & opposite Co-Op supermarket).
October saw the launch of the Brighton Hospitality Workers, formed in response to the many workplace issues endured by SolFed members and their colleagues working in this sector, arguably the most exploitative in the city. BHW plans to bring hospitality workers into regular contact with one another to promote workers’ rights, solidarity and mutual support in this the most precarious and low paid of industries.
BHW has been approached by workers receiving cash-in-hand wages as little as £3 p/hour, working 10-hour shifts without breaks and being hired and fired at will. The initiative was launched with a poster campaign and visits to some of the most notorious employers, where contact was made with front-of-house and kitchen staff to discuss their rights at work and promote the benefits of organisation in combating illegal practice and poor pay and conditions.
October 1st was the day chosen to tell Santander Bank that we won’t allow their attacks on union organising. This was a coordinated action by all the IWA sections in response to the dismissal of the CNT delegate in Isban-Santander Bank in Madrid for demanding fair terms and conditions.
Bin men in Brighton today voted overwhelmingly to strike over attempts by the Green led council to slash pay.
The bin men (a self-adopted title, although they include many non male workers) voted 96% in favour of strike action. This follows an unofficial walkout on the 8th and 9th May and a fiercely enforced work to rule since which has left rubbish piled up across Brighton and streets unswept.
The first strike action is due to start on the 14th June and to last for a week. Further action is likely to follow if the council does not ditch the proposed pay cuts.