Fight poverty pay! For fighting unions

Adam Viteos

Over Christmas I worked gruelling hours in the retail sector, sometimes up to seven hours without any breaks. I did not dare refuse or complain as I was on a four-hour contract and I knew that I’d be put at the bottom of the list if a shift came up at short notice.

Despite my constant availability and inconsistency of hours – some weeks working only eight hours, others up to 36 – I was still paid little enough to be eligible to continue receiving a top up from Universal Credit throughout the months leading up to Christmas.

I often have to work from morning to late afternoon with no break.Lunch is completely out of the question and so I constantly feel tired. Yet I always seem to feel on edge when I’m not working. I feel like my life revolves around waiting for the phone to ring for my next shift or worrying when I don’t get the call about how I’m going to make my rent or feed myself.

I’m angry and my co-workers, while sharing my anger, are completely demoralised and have no confidence in organising.

I’ve decided to do something with my anger and am attending my first Usdaw (retail union) branch meeting next week. I hope to find other people who face the same situation because I know that if I dare organise anything on my own I’ll suddenly find myself on my contracted four hours and no more.

I hope that with others in my union facing similar disgraceful circumstances, we can start organising in each other’s workplaces so that we’re not victimised at work for daring to make a stand.

We desperately need an end to zero-hour and low-hour contracts unless specifically requested by the workers; an end to poverty wages, and the introduction of a £10 an hour minimum wage now, as a step towards a real living wage.

Youth fight for Jobs supports and campaigns for these demands and I am sure other members of my union will be as keen to organise and fight on these issues because these insecure jobs are completely unsustainable and need to be stopped.

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Fight zero hour contracts

Roxy Castell, Zero hour contract worker

910,000 workers in Britain are on zero-hour contracts – a six-fold increase since 2008 – according to analysis by the Resolution Foundation think-tank. The Trade Union Congress expects it to top a million shortly.

The rise of zero-hour contracts in place of more secure ones leaves workers facing insecure futures where homelessness is a week-to-week threat.

I have first-hand experience of trying to survive, and raise a daughter, on zero-hour contracts. I can attest to the stress and hopelessness that can accompany this situation.

Living on a zero-hour contract often means having very little idea of weekly income, making planning for the future impossible. In order to sustain themselves, workers are sometimes having to take on more than one zero-hour contract at a time, leading to a chaotic and stressful lifestyle.

At one point I had two zero-hour contracts and one 12-hour one. But due to the instability of the hours I was given, I was still having to sign on to survive in the weeks where I was earning less than I would be on the dole.

This caused intense stress not only for me, but also for the job centre staff who had to deal with my claim, highlighting that the current benefit system is insufficient to deal with the prevalence of zero-hour contracts.

Never knowing where the next electric payment or food shop is coming from, let alone what the future holds in terms of employment, means workers are trapped in a hand-to-mouth cycle. This has inevitable consequences for their mental wellbeing, and subsequently wider social implications.

In order to tackle this we fight to scrap zero-hour contracts, and guarantee full-time hours and permanent jobs for all who want them. We campaign for trade unions to take the lead on achieving this, through membership drives, protests and strikes.

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£10 an hour petition to be launched as part of global day of action

Protests will take place globally as part of a day of action against poverty pay and insecure work

In Britain, the day’s focus will be in Wakefield, where a protest will assemble at 12 noon outside Wakefield Cathedral, other protests are being organised around the country.

The action has been organised by Fast Food Rights campaign, which was set up by the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU) along with John McDonnell MP and campaigns including Youth Fight for Jobs. The GMB is also supporting the action

The protests will launch the petition for a £10 an hour minimum wage, see: https://campaign.goingtowork.org.uk/petitions/raise-the-minimum-wage-to-ps10-for-all-workers

 

Richard Shattock, 24 year’s old, a fast food worker and Youth Fight for Jobs campaigner said:

“On 14 April I’ll be joining protests demanding a £10 an hour minimum wage. Like thousands more, I’ve been inspired by the struggles of Fast food workers in the US, demanding $15 an hour and a union. Every day, I flip burgers, serve customers, clean tables and keep money coming into our cash registers. But the vast majority of the work I and my colleagues do goes to put money into the pockets of the bosses.

While the company makes multimillion pound profits, I am forced to scratch a living on a pitiful minimum wage with the added insecurity of a zero-hour contract constantly hanging over my head. What’s more, the government has recently decided that my work can be rewarded at knock-down rates by excluding under-25s from their so-called National Living Wage. These protests are about saying workers deserve better. And we’re prepared to get organised and join trade unions in order to fight for it. We’re calling on all those who support us to sign our newly launched petition, but more importantly, to join us and get involved in our campaign”

Protests: (please also see fastfoodrights.wordpress.com

Wakefield: Meet 12 noon at Wakefield Cathedral

London:

Hackney, meet Stoke Newington, Church Street. 3:30

Hammersmith, meet outside Lyric 4:30

Kingston, meet outside Kingston station 1:30

Stratford, meet Stratford shopping centre, meeting 4:30

For more detail about the events ring 07540189052

Leicester: Protest at the Clocktower in the city centre from 4pm to 6pm.

Call Lucy Nuttall 0759 6509277

Cardiff: 5pm, at the statue of Nye Bevan, Queen St

 

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‘National Living Wage’ = Fool’s Gold: Take action 1 April, 14 April

On 1 April, Tory Chancellor George Osborne will try to take working class people for fools. His so-called ‘National Living Wage’ will be introduced with a fanfare. But not only will it come nowhere near to covering the real costs of rent, bills and basic necessities, it is also a straight forward lie.

Living wage lie

For workers under 25, the minimum wage will remain £6.70 an hour. Meanwhile those aged 18-21 will continue to receive just £5.30. And under-18s will still get a miserly £3.87. What’s more, even many older workers will end up losing out, because this small increase in wages will be offset by swingeing cuts to in-work benefits. Meanwhile, 26% of the wealth created in Britain over the past 15 years has gone to the richest 1% of people, according to Oxfam. The Tories are putting the interests of low-paying bosses first.

That’s why we say all workers, young and old, should unite to fight for £10 an hour. Youth Fight for Jobs is working alongside the Bakers’, Food and Allied Workers’ Union in the Fast Food Rights campaign. And we’re demanding a minimum wage of £10 an hour for every worker, whatever their age.

Raising the minimum wage to £10 an hour now would mean the lives of millions of workers and their families could start to be improved. It would also represent a transfer of wealth from the richest to the rest of us – the opposite of austerity which has seen us suffering while the rich get richer.

Won’t be fooled

On 1 April, our campaign will be organising to show we won’t be fooled by Osborne. Stunts and protests are planned to help expose the lie that this government is on the side of ‘hard working people’. And we’ll be using this to build up to a global day of action taking place on 14 April – when workers fighting low pay will join protests worldwide.

Echoing the demands raised by campaigners in the United States – this day of action will call for £10 an hour and a union. We’re encouraging all workers to join trade unions and get organised to fight. In the US, campaigns and strikes led by low-paid workers have forced several cities and states to introduce a $15 minimum wage. When we organise we can win.

International fightback

In the US, it was a socialist City Councillor, Kshama Sawant, who played a pivotal role in helping make Seattle the first city to introduce $15 an hour. That will mean a transfer of $3bn from the bosses to the lowest paid workers over 10 years. Here in Britain, we need politicians who’ll stand up for workers, just like Kshama did.

Political pressure

During his leadership campaign, Jeremy Corbyn pledged his support for £10 an hour. But, with Labour’s right wing attempting to push him back, it’s vital we continue to build the campaign. We need to counter the Blairites – both in government and the shadow cabinet – who want to force him to retreat from this important promise.

And most crucially we need to stand united in the face of this race to the bottom in wages, terms and conditions. The government is attempting to play ‘divide and rule’, creating a two-tier workforce in which nobody wins except bosses and shareholders.

But it’s not shareholders or executives who flip burgers, serve customers and keep multinationals like McDonalds in mega-profits. It’s workers who create the wealth the fat cats take for themselves. So when we’re organised and united, we have enormous collective power.

If you’re not fooled by Osborne’s trickery, and you want to help build the fight for £10 an hour, join us, get involved, and take action with us on 1 and 14 April.


Events on 1 April

London: Rally: assemble 12pm, outside Downing Street

Leicester: Meet 12noon Leicester Clock Tower

Newcastle: Meet 12noon, outside McDonalds on Northumberland Street

Cardiff: 5.30pm, Nye Bevan Statue, Queen Street

 

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Youth Fight Austerity Day of Action 25 November

As Osborne announces a new round of savage cuts in his autumn statement, Youth Fight Austerity is supporting the  Socialist Students call for protests around the country to defend education.

  • Abolish fees – tax the rich to fund free education
  • Stop all cuts, privatisation and marketisation- Fight the HE green paper and kick big business out
  • Living grants for all college and university students
  • Make our campuses zero-hour contract free zones – all workers deserve secure jobs paid a minimum wage of at least £10 an hour
  • Cap and slash rents, university accommodation must be afoordable for all
  • For education that is fully funded, publicly owned, democratically run and universally free at all levels – a socialist education system
  • A socialist society for the 99% free from all exploitation, war and oppression

List of protests (more to follow):

London
Protest outside Downing St
1 pm
Contact: Helen 07540189052

Liverpool
Campaign stall
12-2pm
At the back of the student guild
Contact: Hugh 07769 61132007769 611320

Huddersfield
Free Education Demo
12.15pm in UTC
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/180366445642158/

Leeds
Momentum protest
5pm at Victoria Gardens
LS2 3AD

Coventry
Protest 5:00pm
Broadgate
CV1 1NF
Contact: Lenny 07530 42944107530 429441

Warwick
Protest 1pm
The Piazza
CV4 7AL
Contac:t Lenny 07530 42944107530 429441

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