We are witnessing the biggest strike wave in over 30 years as workers say they have had enough of neo-liberal capitalism
Today and next Saturday there is a strike at the St James Tavern in Brighton. There will be a picket next Saturday at 4 pm. Driving to the picket I turned into Madeira Place only to find the exit blocked as a massive crowd was at the corner of St James Street. Kemptown’s major shopping street.
The strike picket was wholly successful as the pub was closed and shuttered. Meanwhile the picket was more of a party than the traditional picket with hundreds of local people, mainly young people, gathered with home made posters in their support.
The strike was organised by an independent trade union, United Voices of the World which describes itself as ‘a members-led, campaigning trade union of low paid, precarious & migrant workers.’ It is a union which is outside the TUC structure as traditional unions have avoided organising the leisure industry as it is hard to organise and there isn’t much money in it to maintain high paid, lazy union bureaucrats.
As a former Vice-President of Brighton and Hove Trades Union Council it is essential that Trades Councils, which have delegates from local union branches, welcome into their ranks non-TUC affiliated trade unions which are the most militant unions organising some of the most oppressed workers, such as migrant workers cleaners.
Some traditional unions, like the right-wing GMB, have acted as parasites on the work of unions like UVW and the IWGB. At Deliveroo where the IWGB did all the work of organising the workers, the GMB leadership stepped in to sign a sweet heart deal with the management.
As The Canary put it The GMB Union just scabbed on Deliveroo workers regarding a video which the management and the GMB put out claiming that the GMB is working together with the management
If the GMB is working “together” with Deliveroo – then who is the union “standing up for”? What exactly do they think riders care about? It could be they care about inflation that keeps making their slave wages worth even less?
No, of course not. If GMB are in bed with Deliveroo, then they’re saying that the most basic function of a trade union – standing up to bosses – is surplus to their requirements.
The demands of the bar staff at Brighton’s St James Tavern are modest to the point of parsimony! £11.50 an hour, no zero hour contracts, sick pay, no harassment and discrimination at work and protection from violent customers.
But they were too much for the new owners of St James Tavern, Victoria Ann Bennett and Zak Abedi. They suspended the manager, Jake Marvin, on trumped up charges and behaved like all tyrannical employers do when their authority is challenged. All credit to the independent union United Voices of the World.
This led to the defining chant of the strike ‘We are all Jake’ – echoing the slogan of the workers’ movement through the ages – ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’.
The staff voted 100% for a strike. The employers are also being sued for harassment and discrimination, including allegations of transphobia, sexism and anti-Semitism. I suspect that the Board of Deputies of British Jews won’t be interested however as it doesn’t involve the Apartheid State of Israel!
Jake Marvin said he and his co-workers at the pub in Madeira Place are striking for “the basic right to respect in the workplace”.
“We as workers have felt consistently undermined, the physical and emotional welfare of the staff as a whole feels entirely neglected’
Those on strike say they have “had enough of low wages” and are calling for a sick pay scheme which includes cover for Covid-19-related absences, rather than the basic Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
Bartender Tris Houseman said:
“Feeling undervalued and disrespected by people you are generating money for, money that is barely seen by us, feels so humiliating and degrading on such a personal level.
“For me and my friends and fellow workers at St James Tavern, for the bare minimum conditions and respect at work, that is why I am striking.”