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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 November 2014

We can win decent working conditions

Zero-hour, minimum wage, and no chairs

Protesting against zero-hour contracts in Lewsham, photo Jim Jepps

Protesting against zero-hour contracts in Lewsham, photo Jim Jepps   (Click to enlarge)

Jack, Hampshire Socialist Party

The Conservative Party boasts it has 'created new opportunities for youth' and 'got Britain working again'. However, anyone who works in the type of jobs that have become the norm under the Con-Dems knows there are no new opportunities.

Zero-hour contracts mean sporadic shifts. There's the nagging knowledge you're working a dead end job. Young workers like myself are left depressed and distraught.

This month marks my first anniversary of work. Like the majority of young people, I work in the service industry. My experience can be summed up in seven words: zero-hour, minimum wage, and no chairs.

I earn roughly 5,000 a year - though because it is zero-hour, the actual amount is unknowable. The average price for renting a one bedroom flat in Southampton is 600 a month, which means 7,200 a year. This doesn't take into account bills, food or clothing.

Yet the corporation I work for generates 6.8 billion annually. They have the money to pay their workers a living wage, but won't.

Two managements

The supermarket I work in is run by a multinational. Because of this there are two managements. The local management runs the store daily and is basically maintenance. The other management, our billionaire parent company, could visit once in two months or twice in a week.

On one visit, the head of marketing for southern England decided he didn't like till staff having chairs - because it made them 'look lazy'. When I spoke to Socialist Party members about this, they said it could be considered discriminatory action.

I managed to talk to this manager. He said the chairs were removed because an employee tripped and had a serious injury. When I said this to the local management they had never heard of any such incident.

If you have experienced the same type of thing in your workplace and feel powerless, don't be disheartened - there is another way. Strong trade unions, like the BFAWU bakers' union, are fighting hard for workers' rights. I urge you to research the unions organising in your industry, and join one.

$15 Now

Just look at the $15 Now campaign in Seattle. It fought for a $15 minimum wage in the city. Young workers joined together and became involved in unions and campaign work. They won through action and sheer determination.

If they can do it in the beating heart of capitalism, surely we can do it here!

"Black Friday" marked with strikes and protests across US

In the United States the day after Thanksgiving (known as "Black Friday"), has been transformed from a day to spend with family into a day that the bosses look forward to every year.

Low-paid workers are expected to work extended hours at no extra pay while the bosses rake in money and make record profits. More and more shops are opening earlier and earlier, even staying open on the holiday itself. For the bosses this means more money, for working class people it means less time with the family and more time working in a low wage environment.

With Walmart expected to call in nearly one million employees on Thanksgiving, workers are becoming increasingly frustrated. This is just one example of the mistreatment of Walmart workers who are now organising against their cruel employer. This year strikes and protest will take place around the country involving community campaigners as well as workers at over 1,500 stores.

Walmart is the largest employer of the working poor. Workers are calling for better working conditions as well as $15 an hour and full-time work. These demands could easily be met by the company but will have to be fought for.

Hannah Zucherman, Tower Hamlets Socialist Party

Protesting against Sports Direct

Miliband's words need to become action

Youth Fight for Jobs protesting outside Sports Direct, photo Ian Pattison

Youth Fight for Jobs protesting outside Sports Direct, photo Ian Pattison   (Click to enlarge)

Trade unionists and campaigners marked the opening of the new Sports Direct store in Lincoln on 15 November with a protest against the use of zero-hour contracts and low pay.

Activists gave out leaflets contrasting the lack of holiday and sick pay for the 90% of Sports Direct workers on zero-hour contracts, with the 240 million in profits that were made by the company in the last financial year.

The protest coincided with a major speech made by Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, who singled out the "Victorian practices" of Sports Direct and described it as a "bad place to work".

10 an hour!

Nick Parker, Socialist Party member and secretary of Lincoln and District TUC, said: "A company like Sports Direct, owned by a multi-billionaire like Mike Ashley and making annual profits of 240 million, can afford to pay their workers at least 10 an hour and give them regular hours of work.

"The Lincoln protest was part of the ongoing Midlands TUC "Decent Jobs" campaign to encourage particularly young workers to organise together to stand up for their rights at work.

"We welcome Ed Miliband's speech today in drawing more attention to this crucial issue. But the Labour Party leadership needs to go further to strengthen workers' rights by committing to reverse the Con-Dem attacks on employment tribunals and scrap what are some of the most repressive anti-trade union laws in western Europe."

  (Click to enlarge)

Are you sick of your boss?

Are you ready to do something about it?

Enough is enough!

►Give us proper contracts, guaranteed hours and full employment rights

►10 an hour minimum wage now!

►Decent tea and lunch breaks

►Stop the bosses' fire-at-will attitude

►We won't be used as cheap or free labour

►We have the right to get organised at work

►Scrap anti-trade union laws

►Build democratic campaigning trade unions

►No to benefit cuts

Join Youth Fight for Jobs:

Text JOIN plus name and postcode to 07749379010


Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 19 November 2014:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Workers unite to defend the NHS

Solidarity vital to defend trade union rights

Leaked document reveals union busting plan

Toxic mix in Rochester and Strood byelection

Rotten to the Greencore

Fraudster bankers couldn't give a Forex

The beautiful game looking ugly

Them & Us

International socialist news and analysis

Unreported Nigeria: Class struggle and inequality

Israel/Palestine: Wave of rage answers new repression

Youth fight for jobs

We can defeat low pay and zero-hours!

Fighting for decent working conditions

Socialist Party workplace news

Labour councils attack organised workers

Campaigning against rail cuts and profiteering

Power station builders walkout over blacklisting

Local government unions accept shabby pay deal

Unison Wales FE strike ballot

Housing crisis

Raging tenants evict rich landlord

'We will not move!'

Students' victory in housing battle

Bedroom farce

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Teacher and health worker take fight to Oxford council

Bitterne walk-in's bitter win

NHS is going to the dogs

Readers' comments

Owen Jones: no answers

Socialism 2014


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