Workers at the Ivy House pub in Nunhead (South London) have been on strike since the morning of 30 September in a dispute about four sudden, unexplained dismissals, zero hours contracts and union recognition. They want reinstatement or at least suspension with pay and a proper process for reviewing the cases; secure, fixed hours contracts; and recognition of their union, the BFAWU.
The pub has remained completely shut down, meaning that its normal extensive Sunday lunch crowds got not their normal meal but conversations with the pickets – who got overwhelming support, as they have from the community more generally.
The management has met with workers and the union several times and made concessions, but negotiations for the workers’ full demands are still going on.
There are a number of unusual things about this dispute, in particular the fact that pub workers have organised and gone on strike at all, and the fact that they’ve simply walked out and shut the place down.
In addition, the Ivy House is a ‘community owned’ pub which projects an ‘ethical’ image (cf Picturehouse – not the community ownership but the projected image). A significant number of customers own shares and are shocked about the way the management run the place. The workers have appropriated the slogan from when the pub originally became community owned – ‘Save the Ivy House’. It’s a small workplace, but the dispute tells you a lot about the nature of capitalism, and about the power of workers’ struggle.