Today, the 11th of May, three London locations of Office Angels had the the pleasure of a visit by members of South & North London Solidarity Federation along with other organisational support. The pickets were part of the week-long national campaign being orchestrated by the Solidarity Federation in support of Dan, a worker who's been cheated by the Office Angels employment agency.
On Monday 9th May, Liverpool Solidarity Federation organised a picket of the offices of Atos Origin. This was as part of a national week of action against the company, being paid millions by the government to throw disabled people off benefits.
Atos's contact with the DWP to carry out "work capability assessments" is worth £300 million. Their system has previously provoked concern from the very doctors who carry them out, and over 8,000 appeals are heard every month for Employment and Support Allowance alone. Three people have even died as a result of having their support removed, and at the time of their death still awaiting the results of their appeal.
As part of a national week of action against the Office Angels agency in a dispute over unpaid wages, members and supporters of Brighton SolFed today picketed the Brighton branch for the third time in a week. Management locked the doors, and when a passing member of the public went in to ask why they didn't pay their staff, they could only desparately claim we were "liars". The passer-by sharply pointed out we wouldn't be giving up our time to picket for the fun of it! And pickets will keep spreading until Dan gets paid.
We picketed the Brighton branch of Office Angels for the second time in 24 hours this morning to keep the pressure up in the dispute over unpaid wages. After running out of leaflets yesterday we printed another batch overnight to inform passers by and potential Office Angels workers of the details of the dispute, and to encourage them to get in touch if they've also been mistreated by Office Angels.
Brighton SolFed today answered the call for solidarity from South London SolFed, who have been organising pickets against employment agency Office Angels over a non-payment dispute at their Wimbledon branch. Dan worked for Office Angels for three days in December of last year. He was assured by the company that the lack of a time-sheet would 'not be a problem'. However, Office Angels are refusing to pay him the wages he is owed - falsely claiming he only worked for one day, despite them having called him at work on his third day. After completely ripping him off, they had the nerve to harass him for seeking advice on an internet discussion forum.
Since March, the South London local of the Solidarity Federation (SF) has been involved in supporting a victimised former Office Angels temporary worker. Dan worked for Office Angels for three days in December of last year. He was assured by the company that the lack of a time-sheet would 'not be a problem'. However, Office Angels are refusing to pay him the wages he is owed - falsely claiming he only worked for one day, despite them having called him at work on his third day. After completely ripping him off, they had the nerve to harass him for seeking advice on an internet discussion forum.
On April 4th, several Locals of the Solidarity Federation, alongside other anarchists, trade unionists and activists took part in the national day of action against Subway, in support of victimised pregnant worker Natalia Szymanska. This day saw pickets of Subway stores across Britain and Ireland, demanding her reinstatement and compensation.
19 year old Natalia Szymanska worked at a Belfast branch of Subway. As she was 5 months pregnant and working until 10pm, she arranged for her boyfriend - an employee of the very same company - to pick her up and walk her home. He had done this many times previously, with the full knowledge and agreement of her managers and never before had it been a problem. However, unknown to Natalia her managers had a different plan on this occasion, because a month previously she had informed them she was pregnant - a fact which would require them to provide her paid maternity leave.
Management seized upon the presence of her boyfriend, and Natalia was dismissed in a farce of a disciplinary. Her managers believed she would have no recourse, and be forced to accept their decision. Their excuse was violation of health and safety - allowing an “unauthorised member of staff” onto the premises. Quite why the presence of another employee of the same company represented such a dire threat to health and safety was never explained.
Natalia turned to the Belfast and District Trade Union Council, who for the past several months have been holding a regular series of pickets of the premises in question, supported by a wide array of organisations from the labour movement and beyond. Thus far, G.G. Cuisine, the franchise holder has been unwilling to budge, and so the decision was made to turn up the pressure, and spread the pickets across the whole of Britain and Ireland. The aim is to force Subway to pressure G.G. Cuisine into settling with Natalia and to show that we will not allow bosses to treat any worker with such contempt.
The pickets were well attended across both countries, being hold in a wide range of cities, including London, Brighton, Belfast, Bradford, Manchester, Bristol, Liverpool and Dublin. In Brighton and London pickets were also held at a wide range of different Subway store Since the pickets, the franchise holder has attempted to get an injunction against Belfast TUC in order to stifle the protest, but as we go to press, the struggle for Justice for Natalia continues.