Service not included

Following our piece on tips in the last issue, The Independent launched a campaign on the same issue. They didn’t credit either us or the trades unions, which have been campaigning on the issue much longer.

This newspaper campaign seems to have had some effect, however. “Government insiders” now claim they will address the issue in the autumn. More significantly, a prominent “Old” Labour figure has admitted delivering restaurant workers into the hands of their exploiters when drafting minimum wage legislation in 1997.

Ian McCartney, ex-trades union official and token ex-prole in the government, admitted that he sold out workers to ensure the agreement of bosses to the minimum wage. While this ex-waiter banned the use of cash tips to top up the minimum wage, he agreed to a legal loophole allowing catering bosses to use “service charges” for the same purpose.

Know Your Rights: trade union membership

You are protected against being fired or refused a job because of trade union membership or activities, including activities in the past. Your employer is not allowed to treat you any differently if you are a member of a trade union. This means that they must not pass you over for promotion or training opportunities, or treat you differently from non-union members in any way. The same right also applies in the unlikely event of discrimination in favour of union members.

In addition, you have the right to be accompanied by a union official in a disciplinary hearing. You can also have someone accompany you in a grievance hearing if the grievance relates to your terms and conditions of employment.

Day of action for sacked Peruvian garment workers

Members of Liverpool Solidarity Federation have held an informational picket outside Zara, in Liverpool One, and handed out leaflets to customers, staff, and passers-by.

Despite some attention from security guards, who informed us we couldn’t operate on private property, we were able to hand out all our leaflets and our action was generally well received. One woman even came over as we were packing away to inquire what we were up to, and offered her support when we explained what we had been doing and why.

This was part of international solidarity actions supported by the International Workers Association (IWA) for workers in Peru, 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.

Know Your Rights: The stuff your boss doesn't want you to know

Regardless of work status (temporary or permanent, agency, full or part-time) or our contracts of employment, most of us have certain basic rights. These include:

1. The right to be told in writing how much and when we are to be paid.
The Minimum Wage for those over 22 years of age is set at £5.80,.  For 18-21 year olds it is £4.83 and for 16-17 year olds it is £3.57. For agency workers, wages must be paid on the agreed day, even if the hiring company has not paid the agency.

2. The right to at least 28 days paid leave per year.

Solidarity with sacked IKEA workers

Solidarity with sacked IKEA workers in Brescia, Italy.
On 1st September, whilst workers were being transferred between one work agency to another, 7 workers were sacked, even though they had been assured they would be absorbed into the new agency.

These general service workers had been working at IKEA for several years, had been lowly paid at €5 per hour and working up to 200 hours per month and had been working in unsafe working conditions in the underground car park with no exhaust fans. Workers even had to purchase their own safety clothing.