London IWW Statement of Solidarity with UK Rail Workers

The London Branch of the IWW stands with the rail workers in their ongoing dispute. They are fighting not just for themselves, but for us all: as well as their livelihoods, the safety standards of the British rail network are under threat. The government-backed rail operators are attempting to reduce staffing levels on platforms, trains, and tracks in order to drive down wages, which they see simply as an overhead cost. Further, they intend to rehire many workers on zero-hours agency contracts in order to circumnavigate labour rights such as paid leave for holiday, sickness, and parenthood as well as allowing them to dismiss workers without notice or redundancy pay.

The transport industry is one of the few remaining industries in Britain with high union membership. This attempt to break it up by dividing the workforce is a direct attempt to weaken the unions, and the labour movement as a whole.

On top of it all, comes a slap in the face: during this period of exaggerated cost of living, and while the shareholders take home millions in profit, they are offering the workers that they aren’t trying to sack a real-terms pay cut.

However, the workers are standing strong: in the face of an endless torrent of vitriol from the British government and press, they are taking every opportunity to expose the inequalities and injustice that they face. Members of our branch have been proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with these workers on the picket lines, and we will continue to offer our support until the dispute is won. As long as we continue to stand together, we can tip the balance in the favour of workers around the world.

Mutual aid is the currency of solidarity; direct support for the striking worker is crucial to their success. As such, the IWW London branch are setting a budget to allow members to donate food and drinks to workers on the picket lines, and we encourage any members or supporters with the means to make a donation to the strike funds.

The momentum of the union movement is growing once again in Britain after half a century of targeted assault. Public support is on the rise, and workers in unions across the country are balloting to take action and stand up for their rights and their dignity. The doubling-down on anti-union rhetoric by the government and press is evidence that they are aware of the power that a unionised workforce wields, and that they are threatened by it. The IWW welcomes any and all workers both in and out of employment and of any nation, race, gender, or creed. Together we stand for a fairer world.

Solidarity forever.

In times like these…

  • Where a global crisis is once again followed by the threat of global war
  • Where inflation is attack on our wages world-wide, while also so-called left governments from Germany to Spain to the USA agree to spend billions extra on rearmament
  • Where the ruling class tries to deepen the division within our class, e.g. in form of deportations to Rwanda or other scapegoating actions
  • Where the introduction of automation and technology doesn’t lead to a better life for everyone, but an increase of unemployment and pressure on wages

We have to be ready to break the cage of the law by…

  • organising strikes in stronger sectors in solidarity with workers’ struggles in weaker sectors
  • resisting job cuts and company closures if necessary through occupations
  • fighting by all means necessary against overtime and work stress while others have trouble finding a job
  • squatting empty flats and houses in response to increasing homelessness
    refusing that people of our class go hungry or cold if necessary by defying energy bills
  • physically opposing migration raids, deportations, evictions or arrests at picket-lines

We have to prepare ourselves for this. We have to stop acting like victims. The competition between trade unions and their fear to defy the law make them only a limited weapon in our struggle. Most organisations want to proclaim victories and therefore don’t allow us to learn from the strong and weak points of our strikes and struggles. We have to learn to speak for ourselves.

During the pandemic we have seen that workers in the so-called ‘essential sectors – transport, health, food – would well be able to run society in a better, more equal and less destructive way. We will have to take on this responsibility and wrest the means of production from the abyss of their system of profits and power.

Here in Bristol, like elsewhere, we have to find each other. Some of us work at Southmead hospital, others in local schools. We run a solidarity network in Avonmouth industrial and logistics area.

angryworkersworld@gmail.com / angryworkers.org

Help support IWW vs Golders Green College!

gofundme

V has worked at Oxford Colleges International for over 17 years. She has trained most of her colleagues in teaching english as a second languge, and has written a number of revision resources and workbooks for students.

At the end of September, she was informed that at the beginning of next month she would be transferred to a new contract with reduced hours and pay. Her employer has repeatedly refused a consultation meeting with union representation present, and she has been forced to work under protest, on a contract she cannot afford to live on, being denied redundancy pay or proper payment for the 16 days of untaken holiday she had accurred.

We are now taking this case to employment tribunal on the following grounds:

  • Illegally changing contract and employer without consultation, amounting to an unfair dismissal without redundancy pay.
  • Illegally refusing a grievance complaint meeting with union representation present.
  • Repeated failures to send pay over the past year, forcing V to accrue overdraft fees and causing significant financial distress.

While this case goes to employment tribunal, we are looking for funds to support V financially. Direct donations are welcome, or you can buy any one of the learning resources and colouring books on V’s etsy store , each of which will come with a signed thank you note from her.

Thank you for your support

V, and the TEFL Workers’ Union

National Labour Relations Board Rules in Favour of Voodoo Doughnuts Workers

IWW-NARA

On October 6, 2021 NLRB found merit in and are reaching a settlement to bring back Voodoo Doughnut staff who were fired during a strike in June of 2021

Portland, OR — On October 6th, 2021, Doughnut Workers United-IWW (DWU) received word from the National Labor Relations Board that 7 of the 9 striking workers who were terminated will have their jobs reinstated with back pay upon the conclusion of our most recent Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge against Voodoo Doughnut. DWU was informed that two ULPs have settled in the union’s favour. These ULPs include charges concerning topics of managerial surveillance, the posting of union information in communal work spaces, workers entering the building off the clock, as well as the recall of seven of the nine terminated workers who were fired for going on a health and safety strike around the growing concerns of temperatures inside the restaurant, knowingly in direct violation of the national labor law.

In June of 2021, twelve workers went on strike due to

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Another Bournemouth TEFL case: bogus contracts at Anglo-Continental School of English.

In June 2021 a language teacher who we shall call ‘Jo’ asked us to help prepare a case against Anglo-Continental School of English regarding the fraudulent use of “fixed term contracts” after reading about the successful outcome for staff at Kaplan School.

Jo started work at Anglo-Continental on a fixed term contract in 2010. This ended when the school closed for its December break. Jo returned to the school in January and the contract was extended for one year.

This pattern was repeated over the next eight years. They worked in the same job at the same site for at least 11 months each year with 4 weeks paid holiday, being upgraded to Co-ordinator in the summer months. The HR manager even admitted they had to break the contract annually to deny them full employment rights; often when they requested a holiday they were given a P45.

After four years, according to UK employment law, Jo became a permanent employee by default, however they were never informed of this fact by management (a breach of its contractual duty of “trust and confidence”).

In March 2020 the school shut and Jo was put on ‘furlough’ until 31st July. Their contract was then terminated on the grounds there was no work; in law this is simply ‘dismissal by reason of redundancy’. They were not consulted over redundancy selection nor told of their entitlement to compensation (another contractual breach).

Had Jo contacted the union at the time we would of course have taken it to tribunal. Unfortunately these cases are time limited but we believe if a sum is owed to a Fellow Worker, it remains owed until it is paid.

In March 2021 Jo returned to the school with a new contract which ran until they took a week off on 4th June after which it was again renewed.

In July the TEFL union wrote claiming compensation and passed the casework to Dorset branch. Within days Jo was fired. Dismissals for Trade Union activity and ‘whistle-blowing’ are automatically unfair so no need to quibble over length of service. We’ve now exhausted the grievance procedure and ACAS Conciliation so we are, at last, taking it to the Employment Tribunal.

Sinister: Guido Shillig

We have sight of internal e-mails that show Anglo-continental as a dysfunctional organisation with no clear demarcation of responsibility (and a limited grasp of the English language). Five members of staff, including senior managers were overruled on a whim of their sinister boss Guido Shillig, who we’re told “doesn’t like unionists”.

The IWW will not rest until we obtain for our members the full fruits of their labour. If you teach English as a foreign language join the TEFL union and help put this villain in his place.

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Ben Fletcher, Wobbly Organiser

Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)

In the early twentieth century, the majority of US unions excluded Black and Asian workers. The IWW welcomed Black and Asian workers warmly with an emphasis on class solidarity with their motto “An injury to one is an injury to all”. Ben Fletcher is of one of the greatest working class heroes in American history.

Local 8 dock workers

Ben was an amazing organiser who was well loved by his comrades. Fletcher helped found and lead Local 8 of the IWW Marines Transport Workers Industrial Union. The Local 8 organised the city’s longshoremen in Philadelphia and was the largest and most powerful IWW branch in the mid-Atlantic. This branch was without doubt the most powerful interracial union of its era: members took a stand against all forms of xenophobia and exclusion.

"Notice! Seamen and longshoremen" poster

Ben played a pivotal role in the decade long campaign in Philadelphia’s waterfront. The majority of his writing and speeches came in this period. He was an important figure within the union as he was a part of a racially diverse leadership. Ben was a wobbly through and through – he was unapologetic and a radical who envisioned a postcapitalist revolutionary society. However his vision did not stop him from engaging in the reform struggle. The wobblies’ antiracist component of their radical vision was central to the day to day union that Fletcher advanced.

“I have been identified with the Labor Movement—twenty years, and I am at a safe distance from forty yet. Nineteen of those years have been spent in the ranks of the IWW and this long ago I have come to know that, the Industrial Unionism as proposed and practiced  by the IWW is all sufficient for the teeming millions who must labor for others in order to stay on this planet, and more, it is the economic vehicle that will enable the Negro Workers to burst every bond of Racial Prejudice, Industrial and political inequalities  and social ostracism.” –Ben Fletcher

This article is part of a series of posts on Black History Month.

 

Solidarity in the face of redundancy: a message from EF staff to St. Giles staff

IWW (Wales, Ireland, Scotland & England Regional Administration)

To the teachers at St. Giles Language School,

Covid-19 has negatively impacted the global economy significantly. The TEFL profession is no exception. In this challenging situation teachers and TEFL workers are supporting each other to make sure that the financial losses caused by the pandemic don’t fall solely on our shoulders.

As language school staff, we’re all in this together and we need to stick together. Let’s be resolute and determined and use all of our collective skills to get through this difficult period.

It is important to remember that, although you face redundancy, none of you are redundant because the talent of teaching in a style unique to each of you is enshrined in you that cannot be taken away.

All of us at EF and St. Giles shall stand together in solidarity with each other to get through these difficult times keeping in mind the maxim “united we stand – divided we fall”.

Casual workers demand pandemic pay from UWE. IWW-WISERA

Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England

Bristol IWW is today publishing this statement on behalf of our members at University of the West of England (UWE) who have been facing hardship and distress due to the Executive Team’s decision not to furlough or provide direct financial assistance to all casual staff during the universities Covid-19 closure.

One hospitality worker described to the union how this situation was causing them concern, as “no furlough means that I will not be able to pay rent next month (or beyond) and that I’m at risk of homelessness. The only communications I have received told me HR is ‘looking into it’ and I haven’t heard anything back since”.

Another student ambassador explained that “many casual staff are reliant on their university income to get by financially, and we are worried that finding alternative work elsewhere in frontline industries would place us and those close to us at greater risk of infection by coronavirus”.

The IWW has written to UWE’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Steve West, on behalf of our members and their colleagues at UWE to highlight the detriments that they are currently facing and asked that these issues be addressed. Sadly Professor West has responded by refusing to discuss these issues with our union. Therefore, we have been left with no other option but to make this situation known publicly and to ask for the support of the wider Bristol community and to encourage our fellow workers at UWE to join in our struggle to reach a fair and amicable resolution.

We ask that:

  • Professor West meets with casual staff and representatives from the IWW so that our concerns can be heard.
  • All casual workers who are not furloughed under the job retention scheme should receive at least the equivalent pay through direct financial support from the university.
  • UWE informs all casual workers of the steps being taken to provide them financial assistance and explains clearly any criteria for pay.
  • All casual workers should be fully back-paid for the time since the universities closure on 24th March.

The Secretary of Bristol IWW, states that “While many workplaces have been affected by Covid-19, the actions (or lack of) taken by UWE has highlighted the precarious situation that many casual workers find themselves in. There is no good reason why the Executive Team should treat these workers any different to the permanent staff when they are so essential to the reputation and daily operation of the university”.

The IWW would like to appeal to readers that if you are a casual worker at UWE and would like to help your colleagues who are organising, so that ALL workers at UWE receive fair financial support during the pandemic, please Email bristol@iww.org.uk to get in touch and join the struggle!

Urgent: Protect Kevan Thakrar from racist violence

This evening prisoner Kevan Thakrar called to inform IWOC that a known racist attempted to take his life this afternoon.

Kevin McCarthy stabbed Kevan more than four times while Kevan was at the food servery. He used a wooden shank and shouted “die, die, die!” whilst stabbing Kevan. Kevan has four puncture wounds on his back and bruises and scratches after also being hit on the head. Kevin walked past two prison officers neither of whom intervened to prevent or stop the attack until Kevan turned round to defend himself. Even then, no officers put their hands on Kevin or restrained him. No alarms were pressed/no shouting for help. Kevin McCarthy actually walked back into his own cell and locked himself in. The prison failed to take him to hospital but he was treated by two nurses on the wing.

This is the second attack Kevan has experienced in HMP Full Sutton in recent months. Kevan’s solicitor had raised a complaint about Kevin McCarthy prior to Kevan being moved onto the CSC because Kevin has perpetrated racist attacks against other prisoners before. Kevan is shaken and in need of support to demand the prison move him to a safer location and take action to stop further racist attacks on his life. Feel free to use your own words as well as the sample scripts below.

Call script:

Hello, I am calling on behalf of Kevan Thakrar who is currently in the CSC at HMP Full Sutton. Kevan was stabbed four times yesterday by a known racist prisoner. Two prison officers were present and did not act to prevent or stop the attack until Kevan turned around to protect himself. This is the second attack Kevan has experienced in HMP Full Sutton in recent months and yet he is still held in the CSC.

I am really concerned about Kevan’s safety in the CSC and I am calling to demand that he is moved out of the CSC and to a safer location immediately.

Letter template:

I am writing as a concerned community member on hearing of a physical attack against Kevan Thakrar (A4907AE) that occurred yesterday, 23rd December at the Close Supervision Centre, HMP Full Sutton.

As I understand it, two prison officers were present and did not act to prevent or stop the attack until Kevan turned around to protect himself, the officers did not restrain the person attacking Kevan and no alarms were raised.

This is the second attack Kevan has experienced in HMP Full Sutton in recent months. Kevan has made complaints about threats of violence from known racist prisoners but no action has been taken. The person who stabbed Kevan is known to have racist views, and shouted ‘die, die die’ while stabbing Kevan. Kevan’s solicitor had raised a complaint about the person who stabbed Kevan before Kevan was moved onto the unit, as this person has made racist attacks on others.

In addition I believe that Kevan has not been seen by a Doctor and the person who stabbed Kevan remains on the same unit as him.

I am extremely concerned about Kevan’s safety and wellbeing in the CSC. Kevan has PTSD and these acts of violence add further traumas and I imagine he must be fearful for his life.

The environment created in the Close Supervision Centre makes it more likely for these acts of extreme violence to occur, and Kevan is at risk of further attacks there.

As per the Adult Safeguarding in Prison policy (National Offender Management Service 2016) Point 1.5 states that ‘All adult prisoners are protected from abuse and neglect, and prisons effectively discharge their duty of care towards them. Reported incidents of abuse and neglect are managed appropriately’.

I am urging you to move Kevan out of the CSC and to a safer location immediately in order that HMP Full Sutton adhere to their policy obligations.

Write to Governor Gareth Sands at HMP Full Sutton (gareth.sands@hmps.gsi.gov.uk) or phone the prison on 01759 475100.

Email the Executive Director for High Security & Long Term Estate for HM Prison and Probation Service, Richard Vince demanding Kevan be moved from the CSC to a safer location: Richard.Vince02@hmps.gsi.gov.uk

Email Sir Greg Knight, MP for East Riding: sothcottt@parliament.uk

Keep Kevan updated with all your actions by email through emailaprisoner.com or letter to:

Kevan Thakrar, A4907AE
HMP Full Sutton
York
YO41 1PS