Photo: Mary Finch
Photo: Mary Finch

John Williams, Cardiff East Socialist Party

You’d think that in Britain in 2024, the sixth-richest country on earth, basic workers’ rights such as having breaks after six hours of work and knowing your shifts weeks in advance would be a given. But, having worked in hospitality, the stories I hear never fail to amaze me.

Workers have their breaks in the cellar or store cupboard, stood up to eat their food just in case they have to immediately respond to change a barrel or take food out to customers. Not knowing whether to get loose wires fixed just in case the area manager shouts at them for wasting money and jeopardising profit targets.

You can be working a shift shortstaffed but bosses sell it as ‘one or two people down won’t make much of a difference’. It does! The system is rigged to make workers feel that we shouldn’t complain or risk getting hours of work. This is the reality for many workers on zero-hour or other precarious contracts.

The simple truth is not enough hospitality workers know their rights or are organised in trade unions that will fight for those rights to be enforced.

The Tories have kicked the can down the road regarding new ‘fair tips’ legislation meant to come into force in July. Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite, which organises hospitality workers, has rightly criticised leaks of Labour’s draft ‘new deal for workers’ for going back on promises to scrap zero-hour contracts and other pro-worker policies. (see page 3)

Of course we are in favour of flexible working, but only if controlled by the workers ourselves. I’m fighting to help organise workers into the union in my workplace and industry. But we need political representation too.

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) supporters and Socialist Party members in Cardiff have backed me as a candidate in the general election this year. We’ll be putting forward pro-worker policies including an end to zero-hour contracts, a minimum wage of £15 an hour with no exemptions as a step towards wages we can live on, and scrapping all anti-union laws.

The Socialist Party fights for the working class to run society so we can outlaw all exploitive conditions. Young people, including hospitality workers, can be inspired to fight and vote for something that will actually bring meaningful socialist change.