This year's mayday was celebrated in Brighton with the coming together of different local unions and groups organising against casualised working conditions and the housing crisis. The demo soon headed for a local restaurant that has been underpaying one of our members, and demanding they be paid. The protest marks the start of a dispute, continuing our efforts over the past few years of trying to bring International Workers Day back to its roots in worker militancy and anarchist labour organising.
A dinner lady came to Brighton SolFed when there was nowhere left to go. They were facing a disciplinary hearing after being unfairly blamed for an incident, and they additionally were refused mainstream union representation. Brighton Hospitality Workers helped the worker prepare for the disciplinary and accompanied them to this stressful encounter. Solidarity means supporting your fellow workers, solidarity is what makes us strong.
Holiday pay is a common problem faced by workers in the hospitality industry - especially those on zero-hour contracts who are often unaware of of their legal right to holiday pay. Recently we supported a waitress from a cafe in the North Laine who was demanding holiday pay for herself and her workmates - and who managed to get the £600 she was owed.
If you regularly follow our activity probably you have realised that the housekeeper campaign is no longer active. This article aims to explain you what we tried to do, what we did and why the campaign is now on hold.
The housekeepers' campaign tried to expose the problems of workers in the tourist industry in Brighton through one of the hardest positions in the sector: those who clean every room in Brighton after a wild party, a family weekend or a romantic night. The idea of the campaign was to generate a discussion around working conditions in hostels, hotels and guest houses.
No contracts, unsure of the terms of employment, working to the whim of management, sound familiar? We are currently in a dispute with Upper Crust Hove (no not the yellow chain everywhere) the one in West Hove’s golf club.
The worker came to Solfed for help after not being paid her full notice period pay, following having her hours changed upon them, which in effect forced them to leave employment.
This was not a mutual agreement; this was punishment for taking an agreed holiday which management forgot about.
Due to the fact nothing was laid out before hand, the ambiguity of terms and conditions leaves the power to management to do as they please. That is until workers start fighting for themselves.
A former housekeeper in The Amsterdam Hotel received the full payment of his holiday entitlement after joining a SolFed campaign against wages theft.
The Solidarity Federation today escalated it's campaign against wage thieves Jimmy's Restaurants, with a picket by the South London local of their Wimbledon restaurant.
Jimmy's owe their former workers in Brighton £1,500 in holiday pay and have failed to provide the workers with P45s or pay income tax to the HMRC (despite tax being taken from their pay!) The manager of the Brighton branch has refused to engage with SolFed when confronted with this, insisting it is the responsibility of head office who never answer our calls and emails.
After three weeks of action, Jimmy's Restaurant (on the Brighton Marina) is still avoiding their responsibilities. Three former workers are still campaigning to get their holiday pay and their P45 documents and we keep receiving contacts of workers facing the same situation.
From the beginning, the management of the restaurant has been denying any responsibility and addressing us to the “Head Office” who, curiously enough, never answer the phone or emails.
Moreover, last week we found out that the workers, having received their payslips with their tax deductions, are not in the records of the HMRC as having worked for Jimmy's. No explanation has been given by Jimmy's but we do hope that this is a misunderstanding.
Three Bristol Solidarity Federation members travelled to Bath today (26th March 2016) on an Easter Bank Holiday weekend to picket the ‘Jimmy's' restaurant there after a request from the Brighton Hospitality Workers for collective national direct action against their bosses after they refused to pay them about £1,500 in owed wages and have yet to supply them with a P45.
Last Saturday 16th November we started the public campaign against Imperial Hotel. The worker, Francesco, contacted Brighton Solfed regarding a serious case of wage theft: this hotel owes him part of his wages, including his notice pay, holiday entitlement, money stolen from this pay, and sick pay. As the company has ignored every attempt from Brighton Solfed to contact them we had no other choice but to start direct action.