AWP: Another lunchtime walkout, and threats and bribes from the CEO.

Bristol Care Workers Network

Today (May 9th), AWP staff joined in another lunchtime protest orchestrated by Unison Wiltshire and Avon branch. BCWN has been  scathingly critical of these pantomime pickets, since they take place over our lunch breaks and as such involve no actual work stoppage (see our previous response here). Staff’s response today was fairly mixed but despite ours and other’s reservations, that atmosphere during the protests themselves seems to have been positive. Workers were chipper, enjoying the novelty of taking some kind of action for a change, and pleasingly defiant in their attitudes to both the bosses and the union.

Whatever our criticisms, Unison’s tactics have undeniably got the bosses rattled. About half an hour before the planned walk out, AWP’s departing CEO Hayley Richards emailed all staff in the trust to “share […] the latest position regarding the administration review”. Hayley’s email made frequent reference to the impending threat of…

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TEFL Workers’ Union launched in London

iww.org.uk

IWW members in London are building a union for all workers in the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) industry. If you work in a language school anywhere in the UK and would like to get involved, please contact us at tefl@iww.org.uk or through our facebook page.

We are teachers, receptionists, admin staff and interns who are tired of bad contracts and insecure employment. We’re tired of being treated like we’re disposable.

As members of the IWW union, we’ve decided to launch a union in the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) industry. But we’re not just a union for teachers. All language school workers deserve permanent contracts, paid sick days, and paid meetings and trainings. Teachers deserve paid prep time.

Cleaners, teachers, admins staff and interns – we all deserve a wage we can live on. None us should struggle to get by month to month. We work hard, we should earn enough to pay a mortgage or start a family.

Background to the campaign

The campaign began off the back of some successful actions in a Central London school where the majority of teaching staff joined the IWW. In the following year, they won a much-improved pay offer, back pay for a number of teachers, and paid staff meetings and CPD sessions. More importantly, the workers learned how to stand up for themselves and each other and to build a sense of solidarity and confidence at work.

At schools across London, the IWW has:

  • helped a group of teachers claim holiday pay unlawfully denied to them
  • won thousands of pounds for a teacher forced to undertake bogus ‘teacher training’ classes
  • won a payout for a receptionist who was unfairly dismissed
  • won thousands of pounds in unpaid wages for a group of teachers when their school unexpectedly closed down
  • successfully challenged an unfair pay review process
  • guided a group of teachers through a collective grievance in order to challenge discrimination

We’ve launched the campaign by distributing leaflets and speaking to many workers at several schools across Central London. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, reinforcing our belief that a union has been a long time coming in this industry where exploitation and abuse is rife.

We’ve also been holding a series of events, including a Union Representative training tailored specifically to language school workers and a “Know Your Rights” training on zero-hour contracts. We also run an Organiser Training which gives language school workers the tools to tackle workplace issues.

Our plans for the future

At the moment, our focus is letting language school workers in London know there’s a union for them. In the process, we’re helping to connect workers from different schools to share stories and support each other. As a union, we’re here to offer training and support.

Our ultimate goal is to establish a ‘TEFL charter’ that outlines a minimum standard of pay and conditions. With it, we can demand that all London schools finally provide decent working conditions to all staff.

We are already in contact and sharing experiences with language school workers in a number of cities in the UK and Ireland.

Get involved

By joining the IWW, we have taken the first steps to improve our conditions on the job. Even in these early stages of the campaign, we’ve shown that by sticking together and taking action we can force language schools to begin treating us with the dignity and respect we deserve.

For too long, language schools have gotten away with lousy contracts, poor working conditions and shameful employment practices. The industry needs to change – and that won’t happen unless we make our voices heard. We have to stand up and stand together. We need solidarity and organisation. We need a union.

If you feel the same way, get in touch.

Rent strikes are on the rise, again.

Red and Black Leeds

From the NUS website.

Last Monday, over 150 students at Bristol University started a rent strike in the face of increasingly unaffordable rents. This was organised by Bristol Cut the Rent, with similar campaigns being fought around the country for the past few years. At University College London, a prolonged rent strike in 2017 led to concessions of around £1.4 million. Since October groups have been set up in King’s College London, Liverpool, Sheffield and York. Rent Strike, the national network of Cut the Rent groups, provide a detailed account of this movement on their website.

But what exactly is a rent strike and what’s it got to do with people living outside of University? Rent strikes are simply when tenants collectively withhold their rent, accompanied by a series of demands for their landlord(s). Before a rent strike begins a local Tenant’s association is likely to be…

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No Work Without Pay: Boycott CJ Barbers!

Brighton SolFed
Brighton SolFed has started a public campaign against CJ Barbers, who owe one of our members over two months in unpaid wages. The worker was employed as an “apprentice” for no wages, with the promise of paid work after two months. Unfortunately, this kind of practice is common in the barbering industry in Brighton, so the worker decided to go along with it. After the two months were up, CJ Barbers paid him…£50 a week, for full time work! The worker left two weeks later.

During this so-called “apprenticeship” the worker was given no contract, no opportunity to work towards any qualification, and worked full time hours. This therefore does not meet the legal requirement of an  apprenticeship, which is why we are demanding that CJ Barbers pays our member the full legal minimum wage, holiday pay, and pension contributions for the hours he worked, which total £2821.63.

The worker explains: “CJ Barbers promised me an education and a fully paid position after two months of free labour. This was a lie on both fronts so I quit when I discovered they had no intention of ever paying me properly. They were exploiting my labour and lying about my ability as a barber to prevent me seeking other employment.

“Because they did not keep keep up their end of the deal I am now demanding they pay the minimum of what my workers rights entitle me to.”

SolFed tried to resolve the dispute amicably, offering them the opportunity to resolve the matter before we made it public. However, we received no response to our overtures. Therefore, on Sunday 7th April, we opened a public dispute by picketing CJ Barbers. The management were immediately hostile, with both owners yelling at SolFed members, and one pushing picketers around. However, his attempts to disrupt the picket by pretending to be cleaning his windows only served to provide entertainment for passers-by! The owner also made a number of baseless accusations about the character of his ex-worker.

The owners have also made several legal threats against both the worker and SolFed, and contacted the police multiple times in an attempt to scare us away. However, it’s clear that they’ve realised that this kind of intimidation doesn’t work, and have instead now taken to the internet with their friends to refer to us as a “gang”.

Unpaid trials are a huge problem in our city, and Brighton SolFed has had success in the past  of organising with workers to ensure that no work is without pay.

Our dispute with CJ Barbers will be ongoing until this worker receives the pay they are owed.

An injury to one is an injury to all!

 

How bad is global inequality, really?

Local Futures

Most everyone who’s interested in global inequality has come across the famous elephant graph, originally developed by Branko Milanovic and Christoph Lakner using World Bank data (see below). The graph charts the change in income that the world’s population have experienced over time, from the very poorest to the richest 1%.

We can update the elephant graph using the latest data from the World Inequality Database, which covers the whole period from 1980 to 2016 using a method called “distributive national accounts”. Here’s what it looks like in real dollars (MER), developed in collaboration with Huzaifa Zoomkawala:

The elephant graph has been used by some to argue that neoliberal globalization has caused inequality to decline since 1980. After all, it would appear that the biggest gains have gone to the poorest 60% of the world’s population, whose incomes have grown two or three times more than those of the richest 40%.

But this impression can be misleading. It’s important to recognize that the elephant graph shows relative gains, with respect to each group’s baseline in 1980. So the poorest 10-20th percentile gained 82% over this period. That sounds like a lot, on the face of it. But remember that they started from a very low base. For people earning $2.40 per day in 1980, their incomes grew to no more than $4.36 per day… over a period of 36 years. So, about 5 cents per year. [ … 433 more words]

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RADICAL WORKERS’ BLOC AT TOLPUDDLE 2019

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Wessex Solidarity
Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival and rally 2019 Friday, 19th to Sunday, 21st July 2019. View map No stall this year, apparently they were “oversubscribed”. Nah we don’t either, more time to get drunk then.

On the plus side the IWW are back, with a new improved stall run by Dorset branch.

Wob kitchen will run from Friday evening to Sunday lunch, next to the Big Tent; you’ll hardly notice the difference. Wessex Solidarity will make some of our literature catalogue available on the day. We’ve lots of new stuff that isn’t in the reference library as we’re running out of storage space – it hasn’t been updated for years. Why not get in touch now if there’s a subject you’re particularly interested in.

Catering Cadre: Comrade Les, our Wob kitchen chef is offering free training on outside and event catering for Radical Workers and groups who want to feed their members, homeless or unemployed workers in a safe and cost-effective way. Topics including:

  • Basic Health safety and hygiene.
  • Basic budget and Menu planning.
  • Basic dietary requirements.
  • Basic safe use of LPG and Butane gas cookers.

Let us know if you’re interested or come and see us about it at the festival.

Safe Space Policy: “don’t be a dick”.

This year we ask Radical Workers to be especially kind to members of the Prison Officers Association, as they are ever so sensitive, and easily upset by loud noises and rude words.

Bloody hell it was hot! Tolpuddle R.W.B. 2018