Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/753/16198
Getting organised can change things for low-paid workers
After months of illegal shift patterns and being expected to work without breaks under a bullying management at my workplace (as previously reported in the Socialist), things are looking up.
The minimum-wage bar staff called an all-staff meeting with management to discuss the disgraceful working conditions we were facing.
I worked the night the company who run my pub took the most money it has ever in its history. The manager on duty was offered a bonus.
But, as me and my workmates have discussed, he didn't pull a single pint or serve a single plate of food that night! So why is he getting the bonus and we aren't even getting paid for our breaks?
The line from management was that we were the lowest of the low, it's what we should expect as bar staff and if we didn't like it we could leave and there were hundreds who could take our place.
But we have shown we're not as disposable as they'd like to suggest. During the staff meeting we were offered a number of concessions.
The changes haven't been properly implemented yet and we are going to need a fight to have what we were promised put in place.
It is starker than ever now that to make them stick to their word the workers must join a union that can support us and ensure the changes are made while also helping us move forwards.
This is a positive and big step for young people with little previous knowledge of the role of a trade union in the workplace.
The Youth Fight for Jobs 'Sick Of Your Boss?' underemployment initiative has a huge role to play now in my workplace.
We need to build on the confidence the workers have found from taking on management once. 'Sick Of Your Boss?' can show that young people in small workplaces do not have to fight alone.
Although making gains in a workplace can have a positive effect on the staff there, this has to be linked to an on-going struggle against Con-Dem austerity.
All the positive changes in my workplace and in others taking up similar struggles don't change the fact that 90% of bar workers live on the minimum wage.
We are low-paid despite the unsociable hours, the dangers of the job and the added costs and difficulties of working late nights such as needing taxis or having to walk home alone at night.
Young people are stuck at the bottom of the heap and in recent years have seen huge reductions in their working conditions and an increase in bosses who 'fire at will'.
Sky-rocketing unemployment is used to intimidate young people into not fighting back against unpaid overtime and long shifts without breaks.
The fight for decent rights, a decent wage and against the squeeze of living standards from both big businesses trying to increase their profits and the government will not be won one workplace at a time but by workers, young and old, fighting together!
Enough is enough! We demand:
- Decent tea and lunch breaks and no being 'clocked off' when we take one. It's not possible to work long shifts without some time to breathe
- Give us proper contracts, guaranteed hours and full employment rights. No more uncertainty and insecurity dressed up as 'flexibility'!
- Pay us enough to live - Companies which make the bosses millions are paying us (who make them all that money) pennies.
- We want a living wage which is enough to afford the basics in life. A living wage of £10 an hour is not too much to ask
- Stop the bosses 'fire at will' attitude, backed up by the government. Making it easier to sack us will increase unemployment - not reduce it!
- We won't be used as cheap or free labour on apprenticeships, internships and work-for-benefits schemes. A day's work deserves a decent day's pay
- We have the right to get organised at work - Trade unions are there to help give workers protection and fight to improve our conditions.
- In this country there is a legal right to join a trade union. Despite this, workers who try to get organised are sometimes penalised by their bosses. We say the right to organise is fundamental - full trade union rights now!
- Scrap the anti-trade union laws - We have a right to try and improve our conditions and stop the bosses that 'make us sick!' It's up to us to democratically decide how we do this. If we want to go on strike or take action then that's up to us, the courts should not stop us
- Build democratic campaigning trade unions - We want trade unions that will fight our corner. That means representing us in the workplace, defending us if we're under attack and, crucially, helping us use our collective strength as workers to fight back
- No to benefit cuts - Attacks like this affect all of us, not just the unemployed. Thousands of low-paid workers rely on benefits. Don't let government lies divide us!
Are you sick of your boss? Join the campaign ...
Text 'join', plus your name and post code to 07749379010 and we'll get in touch!
Twitter - @youthfight4jobs Facebook - 'Youth Fight for Jobs'
In The Socialist 20 February 2013:
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