SF-IWA calls for national week of action against Office Angels (9-15 May)

Since March the Solidarity Federation (SF) has been involved in supporting a victimised former Office Angels temporary worker. Dan worked for Office Angels for three days in December of last year. He was assured by the company that the lack of a time-sheet would 'not be a problem'. However, Office Angels are refusing to pay him the wages he is owed - falsely claiming he only worked for one day, despite them having called him at work on his third day.

Problems at work - No. 8: Minimum Wage, Maximum Hours

The announcement that the minimum wage is set to rise to £4.85 next predictably had union leaders, desperate for a reason to stick with Labour, claiming that in the fight against poverty the Govemment really is making a difference. They are deluding themselves; the minimum wage is not about ending poverty, it is set so low it merely legaises poverty wages. Labour see a  low wage economy, in which the working class remain powerless, as the essential ingredient of a 'successful' 'free market' economy. Labour's inspiration is not justice or equality, but the USA, where the minimum wage has been in force for years and has done nothing to prevent the growth in poverty and obscene inequalities.

Problems at work - No. 9: Who needs Unions?

Of course, a trade union is usually better than nothing - but if you have the chance, why not dissafilliate from the Labour Party or, better still, take the union under direct workers' control? Here.s two recent events to prove it.

Union Grows after Cutting Labour Ties

Since being thrown out of the Labour Party, the RMT, the biggest rail workers. union, has increased its membership by more than 3,000, and is one of the few trade unions in the country which is growing.

Even given this evidence, the union is still planning to take legal action to challenge the decision that it had effectively disaffiliated itself in February because it was giving financial support to other political parties. The RMT is still sending affiliation cheques to the party, but they are being returned.

Problems at work - No. 10: Unpaid overtime

As unpaid overtime 'tops £23bn mark', what can we do to tackle it?

Did you know that February 25th 2005 was the day the TUC said that people who do unpaid overtime will stop working for free and start to get paid? No? Well, that's because it didn't happen. On that day, dubbed “Work Your Proper Hours Day”, the TUC urged people who do unpaid overtime to take a proper dinner break and arrive and leave work on time. They claimed that this would remind Britain's employers just how much they depend on the good will and voluntary extra work of their staff. Didn't work though, did it?

Know your rights: Working Time Directive

The Working Time Directive limits the hours you work to an average of 48 over a 17-week period. However, many employers make workers sign an ‘opt-out’ that means they can be expected to work more than 48 hours a week.

What most bosses don’t tell you is that if you’ve signed this opt out, you can tell your employer that you want to opt back in. All you need to do is put it in writing. It will take effect in 7 days time unless a different period is specified in the original opt-out, up to a maximum of three months.

The employer has no right to sack you or take any disciplinary action for exercising this, or any other rights. If they do, going to an Employment Tribunal might force them to pay modest compensation.

Wildcat! #3

The third issue of Liverpool Solidarity Federation’s free local newsletter, Wildcat!

- Why we need to look beyond the TUC
- Barcelona: General strike 2010
- Nick Griffin sent packing in Liverpool
- Radical Workers Bloc calls for class war against capitalism & ConDem cuts
- Crosby 1 Sainsbury’s 0
- Mini-Sudoku

International day of action for sacked Peruvian garment workers

Today members of Brighton SolFed delivered letters of protest to two Brighton stores. This was part of an international day of action called by workers in Peru and supported by the International Workers Asscociation (IWA), in response to the sacking of 35 trade unionists. The union members were working in a factory for ‘Topy Top’, one of the major suppliers to high street store Zara, and also a supplier for Gap. Both Zara and Gap stores were visited and letters of protest delivered to local management.

Know your rights: Maternity Leave

A woman can take 26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave and and additional 26 weeks of additional maternity leave. The first 2 weeks maternity leave is compulsory, 4 weeks if the woman works in a factory.

At least 15 weeks before the child is expected (the qualifying week), a pregnant worker must tell her employer that she is pregnant, when the baby is due and when she intends to start her maternity leave. This can be changed, for example if the baby comes early. The employer must reply in writing setting out her expected date of return. If they don’t, she cannot be prevented from returning early and is protected from losing out if she returns later.

All pregnant workers are entitled to paid time off to attend ante-natal care. A woman is entitled to statutory maternity pay (SMP) if she has:

Know your rights: Immigration checks

Employers are required to ensure everyone they recruit has the right to work in the UK. They also have to check the documents of workers transferred to them under TUPE within 28 days. They can also check the documents of existing employees, but must avoid racial discrimination by singling out a particular racial, national or ethnic group or groups.