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(en) Britain, Brighton Solfed hospitality workers: Restaurant worker wins big pay-out in wage theft dispute
Sun, 27 Aug 2017 08:28:04 +0300
A worker in Brighton, UK has won over £20,000 in unpaid holiday and wages in a dispute
with a restaurant. ---- João worked at the restaurant from 2009 until a few months ago,
and on leaving calculated that they had been short-changed for tens of thousands of
pounds. ---- He had been working 65-hour weeks for less than minimum wage. João, who has a
precarious migration status, then contacted a local union for help. ---- The restaurant is
not being named, as the claim was settled on the eve of a public campaign by the Brighton
Solidarity Federation (BSF), an anarcho-syndicalist union in the seaside town. ---- After
several weeks of negotiation £23,000 will be paid to João in five installments, the first
of which has already been paid. ---- A BSF member familiar with the case told libcom that
this was not the first dispute with this restaurant.
"We had a dispute with the same place 3 years ago with a worker from Spain, which was also
successful before it became an open public conflict.
"At the time we were aware of some workers being made to work over 60 hours a week at
below minimum wage, in highly irregular conditions, but they felt too vulnerable to be
involved in a dispute.
"However, as a result of the first dispute, the place tried to regularise the working
conditions of all their workers as they realised what a vulnerability this was.
"This is what enabled this worker now, 3 years later, to be in a position to take on their
employer when the job finished."
Brighton is an historic seaside resort, with ‘caring, leisure and other service' sectors
accounting for around 1-in-10 jobs in the city.
The city's hospitality sector employs large numbers of migrant workers, young people, and
students on a casualised basis, making it difficult for workers to assert their rights.
Problems like wage theft, zero hours contracts, and dismissal without notice are common.
Since October 2013, BSF's Brighton Hospitality Workers campaign has been organising in the
city's hospitality sector, covering restaurants, cafes, pubs, and hotels.
The campaign uses direct action tactics such as picketing to support current and former
workers taking on their bosses, and aims to develop self-organised workplace solidarity in
Disputes have often taken on issues of wage theft or non-payment of sick or severance pay,
with the typical sums involved being around £1000.
The campaign has also won reinstatement following unfair dismissal, and supported workers
dealing with bullying at work.
Note: The worker's name has been changed to protect their anonymity
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