On May Day, a coalition of unions and campaigns, each organising precarious workers, came together to celebrate and take action.
Bringing together workers from BECTU, United Voices of the World (UVW), Independent Workers union of Great Britain (IWGB), the Bakers’ Union and Unite, as well as campaigners and activists from Women’s Strike, Labour Campaign for Free Movement, Workers’ Liberty, Another Europe is Possible, and Plan C, among others, the bloc coalesced around four demands:
An end to exploitative contracts and poverty pay — guaranteed hours and enough money to live a decent life. Every worker deserves at least a Living Wage!
Free movement and migrants’ rights — the penalty for standing up to your boss should not be deportation.
The decriminalisation of sex work — give us the right to organise for better conditions.
An end to trade union victimisation and repeal of the anti-union laws.
The precarious workers’ bloc took part in the main May Day rally in Trafalgar Square, before marching to a number of workplaces, where employers are in dispute with their workers, to protest and rally.
We visited the Ministry of Justice, where UVW members are balloting for strike action and demanding a Living Wage; Kings College London, where IWGB members are demanding to be brought in-house; Picturehouse Central, where BECTU members have been striking for almost two years for a Living Wage, sick pay and union recognition; TGI Fridays, where Unite members have just voted 100% in favour of strike action over stolen tips; and McDonald’s, where BFAWU members are fighting for £10 an hour.
The bloc was intended, firstly, as a celebration of these struggles and a show of solidarity between workers of different unions. We are one movement and one fight!
The strapline of United Voices of the World union is “no longer invisible!”, and the bloc successfully served to place the migrant, young and low-paid workers front and centre of activity on the day.