Brighton Solidarity Federation Hospitality Workers have successfully concluded a campaign against a hotel in Brighton. Brighton SolFed had been working with a former employee for payment of unpaid holiday pay, as well as compensation for dangerous working conditions which have had a serious impact on this worker’s health.
The worker was only contracted to work 20 hours a week, but was regularly pressured to work up to 40 hours, doing work that went far beyond their job description. In addition to his usual duties of taking care of linen and rubbish, he was given sole responsibility in evenings for the duties of a room attendant and dealing with all the requests made by guests, acting as luggage porter, cleaner of bar and brasserie toilets, and responsible for dealing with dirty clothes in the kitchen.
This extremely physically demanding overwork was compounded by various failures in health and safety, including being expected to push a broken rubbish cart for 6 months, despite this issue being raised with management, which has caused a long-term back injury. This was only acknowledged when he recently submitted a GP letter confirming this. He was not provided with safety gloves for six months and was expected to handle cages without protection.
To add insult to (literal) injury, he was only awarded holiday pay for the contracted 20 hours of work, effectively missing out on half of his holiday entitlement. The disregard for not only this workers personal health and safety, but also basic legal requirements around his holiday pay is shocking.
Brighton SolFed organised with this worker and got the pay and compensation that they’re owed after only one picket. Clearly having their working conditions subjected to the light of day was too much for these bosses to handle! This is yet another case to make hotel and restaurant bosses think twice before subjecting more workers to these degrading, exhausting and dangerous conditions.
The ease and speed with which this case was won further demonstrates the value of anarcho-syndicalist unionism. As the worker puts it, “I've never been in contact with unions or had been associated with any group. The problem of many of us [have] to take the first step to contact them, perhaps we don't do it because we believe that they won't be more than words and will not have an effective result… Solfed have [all the information] and know to handle it in an action process that they have organized, being very prepared people; their own safety and firmness creates in you a self confidence… During our meetings I felt that they also trusted me and that is why they supported me throughout the process, knowing that they were acting in my name being sure that it was worth it.
“It is obvious that a job is important, but people are more important, and If someone feels mistreated in a work environment it is best to leave the job, but not before having fought... and that's what Solfed is for.”
Don’t let bosses get away with these criminal conditions. Unionise! Organise! Fight Back!
Get in touch with Brighton SolFed: firstname.lastname@example.org