Union organising

How to organise young workers

One of the most visible impacts of capitalist globalisation has been the massive expansion of low-paid (and often semi-casual) jobs in the service sector. This “precarious” employment — in bars, restaurants, nightclubs, hotels, fast-food chains, supermarkets, high-street retailers, call centres and elsewhere — means long hours, barely-legal wages and unsafe working conditions. Young people fill these jobs. According to a recent TUC survey, workers between the ages of 16-24 make up nearly a third of the total workforce in hotels and restaurants in the UK (migrant workers and women of all ages...

Workers' Liberty 3/3: Factory bulletins in the 1920s and today

Workers' Liberty 3/3 (March 2006) reproduces many communist factory bulletins from the 1920s, and discussion from that era about how they should be produced. "Workers cannot write newspapers? Really? Just tell us some news about your factory". It also includes information on workplace bulletins produced by the AWL. Click here to download pdf.

A trade union at Google

“We are the workers who built Alphabet. We write code, clean offices, serve food, drive buses, test self-driving cars and do everything needed to keep this behemoth running." The Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) was launched on 4 January by 226 workers at Google and its parent company Alphabet, in partnership with the Communications Workers of America (CWA). Within their first week they trebled their membership and denounced YouTube for “its insufficient response” to the storming of the Capitol on 6 January. In 2018 Google deprioritised the motto “don’t be evil”. The company’s main business is...

Help sex workers organise!

The key and simple question at the heart of debate around sex work is: what best empowers sex workers to fight for themselves? The answer is unequivocally recognising their work as work and giving them the rights and means to organise: against the bosses in brothels and clubs, for better pay and safer conditions. The answer is not, no matter which way you look at it, to make their work more dangerous and make it more difficult for workers to seek help or exit the industry, which is precisely what the Nordic Model does. In her article “No to the Swedish Model”, Apsi Witana makes this point well...

Couriers: half a step forward

Food delivery firm Just Eat is set to bow to pressure and start employing couriers as employees rather than as spuriously self-employed “independent contractors”. The company plans to start employing 1,000 workers “directly” via a delivery arm (Scoober) which will be operated by the recruitment agency Randstad. This means that these workers will all receive some measure of sick pay, holiday pay and other employment rights which most UK food delivery workers are currently denied. Just Eat’s move is part of a Europe-wide move by the firm towards regularising the employment of its delivery...

Shutting down all the apps

On Wednesday 25 November the majority of the takeaway food delivery workforce in Sheffield struck. The strike affected all of the big apps — Stuart, Deliveroo and UberEats — and involved over 100 drivers. It effectively shut down the delivery service across the city. On the drivers’ WhatsApp, pictures flooded in of restaurant order boards overflowing with uncollected orders. The workers were united around three key demands: living wage after expenses; a fair process around discipline, with hearings and natural justice for drivers accused of infractions; and a hiring freeze, to stop the big...

Frozen for years? (John Moloney's column)

We’re now hearing rumours that the public sector pay freeze may be for several years, across the whole sector. If that’s true, that reinforces the need for unions to work together and build coordinated action as soon as possible, aimed at breaking the freeze before it becomes a “fact-on-the-ground” over a long period. The wider the coordination, the more impactful the action will be. Having said this, aiming for coordination can’t be allowed to hold back those unions, or groups of workers within unions, from taking action when they’re ready. If PCS needs to act alone, or in coordination with a...

Sheffield couriers strike

On Wednesday 25 November, food couriers in Sheffield will carry out an all-day, all-out strike. Their demands, aimed at all food platforms, are for a living wage plus costs, a fair process on terminations from platforms, and a hiring freeze. In recent weeks, many couriers across Uber, Stuart and Deliveroo, have found themselves being terminated with no right of appeal. In many of these cases the reason for the termination is computer error. For example, Uber requires riders to submit selfies during a shift in order to prove that they have not rented out their account to a third party. But Uber...

Preparing to fight the pay freeze (John Moloney's column)

Our National Executive Committee (NEC) meets on 10 December, and will decide our strategy. I am sure industrial action will be considered. If it is, no doubt the union will approach other public sector unions and trying to build towards coordinated action, but we of course have to be prepared to go on our own if necessary. If the NEC say yes, then we could build towards action in the new year. There’s a specific process inside the civil service called the “pay remit”, where the Treasury issues guidance about how much money is available. That usually takes place in April, so that could be the...

Strike vote pushes care bosses to talk

Workers in the United Voices of the World union at the Sage Nursing Home in North London are demanding £12ph, parity with NHS annual leave and sick pay, pay for unsociable hours, and recognition of UVW. Following a 100% vote for strikes, energetic campaigning by UVW, and strong support from local labour movement activists and the wider community, the Sage bosses have just agreed to negotiate. A victory here would have major consequences for the entire social care sector. It would strengthen other care workers’ ability to organise, and — with the right arguments and campaigning — add momentum...

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