Appeal for solidarity over unpaid wages at Space Mania cafe

From the Slovak anarcho-syndicalist union Priama akcia:

We would like to ask you to show solidarity with Mia, who is together with Priama akcia in conflict with Space Mania café. You can send a protest e-mail directly to the boss Viera Pierce, who refuses to pay owed money to her former worker Mia. The total owed sum is 222.44 €. Since October 2017, Mia has been trying to get her unpaid wage, but her boss ignored her written requests as well as protest actions she organized together with her friend in front of the café. In December 2017 Priama akcia entered into the conflict concerning Mia’s unpaid wage. The article contains all the background details a a template of a protest e-mail.

HOW TO SUPPORT THE CONFLICT

Contact e-mails of the boss:
spacemania007@gmail.com, kreativnehracky30@gmail.com

Please, add our e-mail zvazpa (at) riseup.net as BCC.

E-mail template for organizations (for individuals, please change “we” to “I” and, in general, feel free to change the content as you wish):

Dear Ms. Pearce,

we were informed that our sister organization Priama akcia (IWA/AIT Slovakia) entered a conflict with Space Mania café over unpaid wages belonging to your ex-worker Mia.

Hereby, we express our support to Mia and Priama akcia union. We will support all their activities until you pay the owed wages in the amount of 222.44 €. We will also inform the public in this country about your practice.

We expect your reply to this e-mail.

SIGNATURE
ORGANIZATION
CITY, COUNTRY

More information about the conflict

Mia worked in the café from the end of August until the end of September 2017.

“I found the job on a Facebook page. Viera Pearce was looking for a waitress to work full-time or on a student-work contract. I called her and expressed my interest so we agreed to meet the next day. At the interview, she told me that I would receive a temporary contract and after October I would receive a full-time contract. She even told me I would earn 500 – 550 €/month. I was supposed to sign in at 9:40 or 9:45 (the cafe opens at 10:00), despite the fact that I used to be at the café an hour or more before 10:00. I was employed as a waitress, but each day I also worked as a cleaner.”

Mia felt that the trial period was going well. She liked her job and her boss told her several times that she was happy with her.

“She praised me several times. One night I was out with friends and we met her at a local bar. She even praised me in front of everyone and told them what a good worker I was.”

At the end of September Mia received unexpected news.

“On the 26th of September I got a call from my boss, who said someone complained about me and that I’m to lock up and hand in my keys. This surprised me because no one was at the café so there was no one to complain. Everyone was saying how accomplished I was and so on. When I asked her who made the complaint, she stayed quiet and hung up. I texted her saying OK, I handed in my keys and I would like wages for my work. She replied that she would pay me on October 30th (it was in my contract that wages are paid on the 30th of the following month). I said okay.”

Even though Mia was disappointed by her boss’s behavior and was in a bad financial situation, she felt that even if she wanted her money earlier, her boss would not pay. Therefore she waited until October. On October 27th she received a text from her boss to come for her wages. However, on the spot she only received 70 €, after working for 20 days. Her boss said the amount corresponds to 40 hours of work. When Mia objected that she worked more than 40 hours and asked to see the attendance sheet, her boss stated that she did not have it. She then demanded that Mia sign her paycheck immediately or she won’t even receive the 70 €.

Mia decided to sign the paycheck so she would receive at least some money. Later that day she told her story to a friend who she knew would listen to her and support her. Together they tried to get in touch with the boss through text messages, phone, e-mail, but without success. However, they did not stop there and decided to organize direct protest actions.

Together they staged pickets in front of the café, which visibly upset her boss. They had to endure jeers and insults from the boss’s husband who even filmed them. Still, they endured and showed up almost every day. The boss would regularly call the police and tell the officers that Mia was stealing from her when she was employed, even though the boss herself counted the money every day and everything was always in order. Furthermore, the boss complained that the two protesters were scaring children in the café and disturbing public order. Later she even threatened them with a criminal complaint. However, the boss’s actions did not deter them from further protests.

INVOLVEMENT OF PRIAMA AKCIA

When Mia and her friend learned about the activities of Priama akcia, they approached us. We met and discussed the whole situation. It turned out that Mia had worked 123 hours and that she was entitled to more than just 70 €. She even had her whole attendance, as she kept her own record at home. She also had photos from the official attendance, which proved that Viera Pearce had no intention to obey the Labor Code which only allows 10 work hours per week on Mia’s contract (Mia’s work time exceeded 10 hours on her second day already!). Together we made a detailed calculation and decided that we would present it to the boss with a clearly stated demand.

On December 22nd, 2017 Mia, together with group of Priama akcia members and supporters, handed in her demand letter to the boss’s husband (since the boss herself was not there). He acted as if the problem did not concern him, claimed that it was his wife’s issue and refused to take the letter. We told him that we would leave the letter on the ground in front of the café and despite him acting like he didn’t care, he immediately picked it up after we left. Suddenly, the same night, Mia’s ex-boss came back to life and texted Mia with a proposal to come to an agreement. Her idea of an agreement was for Mia to meet with four lawyers of Space Mania! But this is not the way to go. Since the owed sum of 222.44 € was not paid by the deadline set in the letter, Priama akcia has entered into conflict with Space Mania and we will continue until Mia receives the money that belongs to her.

Thank zou for your solidarity!

Priama akcia

Slovak Section of the International Workers’ Association (IWA/AIT)

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Posted in Anarchists, Unions, Work | Tagged | 1 Comment

Updates from the Picturehouse, Lee Hecht Harrison, LSE and University of London disputes

A round-up of a few recent developments in some ongoing workplace disputes:

At Picturehouse, staff have been intimidated into postponing most of their scheduled strike dates thanks to a shocking lockout threat from the company, which would have required workers to work for free on non-strike days. The proposed actions are now mostly on hold while they try to work out whether this stunt from management is legal or not, but in the meantime they’re inviting people to join them for a strike fundraiser at the Market House in Brixton on Friday 26th January.

Their full statement:

“We are extremely sad to inform you that with the exception of this Saturday and Sunday. Many of our upcoming strikes have had to be called off. We can assure you they are only called off against our wishes, due to the legal threats of the company. We are making every effort to hand in notice of greater and more extensive strike actions.

This weekend we are still picketing at the following times.

20th: Hackney, Ritzy and Central 1730-2030

21st: Crouch End, East Dulwich, and Central 1730-2030

################################

The long read.

We want to give the full story to you especially to those supporters who helped make the heroic efforts to ensure we could keep going during the lockout. Those funds are now going to be used to launch a massive wave of strikes soon. So if you want the full story please read below.

The company was clearly very scared by the prospect of these strikes during the busiest time of the year. First they announced a lock out at just the Ritzy.

You made heroic efforts at short notice to fund raise, to ensure despite this that we could afford the strikes.This was so successful that we met our targets and planned ahead. Not only did you get us the money but we found it very moving seeing all the messages of support come in.

Then yesterday they announced that at all the other sites, that staff would have to come into work but, they would not be paid at all if they walked out. In essence a message saying “come in and work for free when you are not striking or be fired”. Our first response was “this surely can’t be legal, it is certainly not right”.

We know the Picturehouse and Cineworld are not above making threats to bully and intimidate staff out of their right to strike.
Let us not forget it was only in october they threatened to fire every last one of us. Only last May that they fired most likely illegally several of our union leaders. As such we take all these moves very seriously.

Cineworld announced this latest maneuver only days before the strikes were meant to start. There is some legal grounds for their move from a recent ruling in another strike, which may allow the employer this power in some circumstances. Without time to find a work around or to be 100% sure that the company would not be able to force us to come into work for free, it was felt by BECTU that the best course of action was to call off the strikes.

It must be remembered that the UK has developed one of the most restrictive anti-strike laws in the EU. We fight in many cases with a hand tied behind our back.

We are devastated that these strikes have been called off. We wanted them to go ahead and pushed as hard as we could for them to go ahead. On the upside we now have a huge warchest of fundraised money ready to declare new strikes with. Further we are reminded of the companies true nature and resolved now to win as much as ever.”

At Lee Hecht Harrison, where cleaners are demanding a living wage, strike action will be going ahead from Friday 26th on, and they’re inviting supporters to join them in a solidarity demo outside the building in the heart of London’s financial district from 4-7pm on that date. Their union, the UVW, is also inviting people to a social on Saturday Feb 3rd.

At the LSE, where cleaners organised through the UVW have been fighting for direct employment and equal treatment with other employees, it’s now been confirmed that all 250 cleaners will be directly employed from March 5th onward. You can read more about the campaign that led to this victory here. In their words:

“This historic achievement ended 30 years of outsourcing and lifted around 250 cleaners who were previously invisible and voiceless around campus, on to some of the best contracts of employment in the country for any group of workers.

Thank you to everyone who supported the brave and inspiring cleaners of our union the United Voices of the World who, against all the odds and with no support from the recognised unions (bar an eleventh hour donation and motion of support from LSE UCU), won this historic fight by organising the largest cleaners strike in UK history at the time, plus the highest number of strike days of any group of outsourced workers in a UK University.

Please now support our brothers and sisters from the IWGB Union fighting the same fight at Senate House.”

And, on that note, strike action will be going ahead at Senate House on Thursday 25th, where security officers and receptionists are asking people to join them on the picket line from 2pm and for a demo at 6. It seems like these workers are also approaching a victory, having heard that:

“We heard back yesterday from the University of London, who are currently conducting a review of all of their outsourced services.

They announced that they have narrowed down the options they will present to the Board of Trustees from seven to two.

The 2 options are:

MIXED ECONOMY – bring some of the contracts in-house
FULLY IN-HOUSE – bring all of the contracts in house!
This is another massive step forward for the campaign – since it began in September last year the University of London has completely shifted its position, from being committed to maintaining the status quo of contracting out all its soft and hard services to being on the verge of bringing everyone back in house!

The University will be surveying all staff in Feb, and then a final decision on which of these options to pursue will be taken in March by the BoT.

The IWGB’s position remains the same – the campaign will not stop until ALL WORKERS ARE BACK IN HOUSE!”

Posted in Protests, Strikes, Unions, Work | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Call-in in support of Florida prison strike, Monday 22nd Jan

From the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee:

Flood the Florida Department of Corrections Phone Lines – Respect the Demands!

A call-in campaign is happening in support of #OperationPUSH Monday, January 22nd. You can use the following script to help you in your call. The most important thing is to make the call. This will put officials on alert that we are watching. Encourage your friends and family to join as well, then hold each other accountable!

Background info on the campaign and the demands can be found at the Operation Push campaign page.

Any pertinent info you learn can be sent to media@incarceratedworkers.org

Phone Script

Julie Jones, Florida Department of Corrections Secretary
(850) 488-5021

Hi, my name is ____ and I would like to talk with FDC Secretary Julie Jones about the demands being made across Florida prisons.

[FDC Response]

(If not Julie Jones) May I ask who I am speaking with?

(Record their name for update to IWOC and FTP)

Have you agreed to meet with prisoners about their grievances?

[Script if they deny hearing about them]

It is widely known that Florida is one of the few states that does not pay those they imprison for their work. For those that do, they make pennies per hour. Will you agree to pay incarcerated workers fairly for their labor?

It is also widely known that canteen prices are well above the market price, including for essential items. Will you reduce canteen prices to affordable rates?

Finally, the FDC no longer offers parole for those with life sentences or sentences far off in the future. Will you restore parole for the many deserving to re-enter society?

Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from the FDC soon and will follow up until those you imprison are respected.

You can find more information about the Florida strike here, here and here.

Posted in Repression, Strikes | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

News to celebrate: charges dropped against 129 J20 defendants, airport plan defeated in France

Just a quick post to share a few pieces of news worth celebrating:

In the US, the prosecution has dropped charges against 129 of the 188 people who were still facing charges arising from the “J20” protests against Trump’s inauguration, almost exactly one year ago. Of course, this means that 59 people are still facing felony charges and could use our support and solidarity – you can read the defense campaign’s official statement here, and donate to their legal fund here.

Meanwhile, in France, a long-running battle against a proposed airport that saw the birth of La ZAD – the “zone to defend”, a kind of autonomous commune comparable to those seen at Climate Camp or in the 90s road protests in the UK, but far more long-lived – seems to have ended in victory after the government backed down and abandoned the project.

Finally, down in London, Wednesday’s march against a proposed gentrifying development in Elephant & Castle seems to have won a temporary victory, as Southwark Council voted against the plans. You can read more on that story here.

Posted in Anarchists, Climate Change, Housing, Protests, Stuff that I think is pretty awesome | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Florida prisoners launch “Operation PUSH” strike, and other prison news from Texas, NY, Bulgaria and Hungary

As of January 15th, Florida prisoners have begun a work stoppage, called “Operation PUSH”. You can find more information via the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, Fight Toxic Prisons, or the SPARC facebook page. The action’s already attracted write-ups in Newsweek, the Nation, Medium, Dissent, the Huffington Post and Shadowproof, and will be extensively documented on It’s Going Down.

Fight Toxic Prisons suggest a quick list of ways to get involved in supporting the strike:

1. Attend and/or organize solidarity demos. At the moment there are several planned across the state on Jan 15 and 16. Details here (in the ‘about’ section). And there are well over a hundred other locations relevant to the FL DOC, where even small demonstrations will add to the pressure over the coming weeks. And for those not in FL, all of these facilities and admin offices have phone numbers. This can all be found here.

  1. Ask organizations you are part of to join the growing list of supporters [by emailing FightToxicPrisons@gmail.com], at the time of writing this there are [over 100], and its growing quickly.
  2. Use your networks to amplify news of the strike via social media, letters to the editors, etc. A simple search of Operation PUSH Florida prisons brings you to dozens of articles, radio shows, etc. that can be shared.
  3. Write to a prisoner, remind them they are not forgotten by the world outside the walls. The names of several prisoners who have been active inside the FL DOC can be found here. But they get moved around a lot, so check here for their most current address.
  4. Make financial donations to support strike solidarity. We are still collecting them via this crowdfunding page. These funds are being handled by members of Gainesville IWOC and Fight Toxic Prisons. If you prefer to donate by check or cash, or would like a tax deductible option, let us know: FightToxicPrisons@gmail.com

While the Florida work stoppage is the most dramatic development happening in prison struggles at the moment, it’s far from the only one: Austin ABC report that a hunger strike broke out around the start of the year at the Allred Unit in Texas (which is also home to the revolutionary prisoner Xinachtli, although the isolation the authorities have imposed on him means he’s likely to be somewhat cut off from developments among the wider prison population). Up in New York, people are reporting what looks like at least a partial victory in the struggle against incredibly cruel new mail restrictions that would’ve cut off prisoners’ access to everything from fresh fruit to reading material:

“As a result of massive community pressure and opposition, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has just announced that he is directing the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) to “rescind its flawed pilot program that restricticted shipment of books and care packages” to people imprisoned. Alarmingly, Cuomo continues on to say that the state will “redouble efforts to fight prison contraband.” Soon after the governor’s comment, DOCCS spokesperson Thomas Mailey issued a statement with a much weaker message, claiming “the Governor has directed the Department to suspend this pilot program.”

To refer to the pilot program as “flawed” is to belittle its maliciousness. These restrictions, as laid out in Directive #4911A, are nothing short of oppressive, exploitative, and hostile toward imprisoned people and their support systems. A mere suspension leaves the door open to a kind of tinkering that will surely shift one outrageous policy into another. Since DOCCS first announced their intention to implement the restrictions, Critical Resistance NYC has been receiving testimonies from people imprisoned in New York State who have been especially skeptical of these appeals to “fight prison contraband”:

“The government claim that the aim is to reduce contraband is hogwash,” noted Keith. “Like the recent taking of our hoodies, and almost everything else, a false claim of security matters.”

“Within DOCCS, once they pull the ‘security issue’ card, it’s pretty much a one-sided battle,” wrote Ron. “It’s not about the packages, it’s about the profits.”

“They’re just using that as an excuse to take everything from us,” wrote Jimmy. “Last year they took the cans from us and all hooded sweatshirts to keep us warm outside for the winter – but we see what they are doing and they keep taking and taking.”

TAKE ACTION TO KEEP UP THE PRESSURE

Critical Resistance will remain alert to impending developments and will continue to fight for the absolute elimination of this directive. At this time we urge all of our friends to take these steps:

  • Keep the pressure on the governor and DOCCS!

Write/call Governor Cuomo:

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor of New York State

NYS State Capitol Building

Albany, NY 12224

Call: 518-474-8390

Email: https://www.governor.ny.gov/content/governor-contact-form

 

Write/call Acting DOCCS Commissioner:

Anthony Annucci

Acting Commissioner

Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

1220 Washington Ave

Albany, NY 12226

Call: (518) 457-8134

Email: anthony.annucci@doccs.ny.gov

SAMPLE LETTER

I understand that DOCCS has temporarily suspended Directive #4911A and I demand that the directive be eliminated entirely and permanently. Restricting packages to pre-approved vendors serves to exploit imprisoned people, their families, and their support systems. Through this suspension, the state admits that the pilot program’s now month-long run was unacceptable and ill-intentioned. You cannot allow this pilot program to resume in any form.

Thank you,

Your Name”

Back in Europe, Brighton ABC have shared a new interview with anti-fascist prisoner and Bulgarian Prisoners’ Association activist Jock Palfreeman. The BPA/BPRA are still appealing for international solidarity protests to highlight the widespread abuses in Bulgarian prisons as Bulgaria takes up the EU presidency, and have published an album showing the results of staff brutality in Sofia prison. Meanwhile, in Hungary, Ahmed, a refugee who was labelled as a “terrorist” for allegedly taking part in a disturbance at the Hungarian border, is continuing his quest to overturn his conviction, having had several court dates last week and more scheduled to continue into March. You can keep up with that case at the Freedom for the Rozke 11 site, or their FB or twitter if you prefer.

Posted in Repression, Strikes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Workplace round-up for mid-January

The first few weeks of the year have already seen a fair bit of industrial action across the country, with more on the way.

Perhaps the biggest workplace win has been the news that McDonalds’ workers are to get their biggest pay rise in ten years, after staff at some stores have started organising and striking. Grassroots cleaners’ union CAIWU also chalked up a number of more local successes around the end of 2017 and the start of 2018, with the threat of action winning pay rises for cleaning staff at Niketown and the Royal Opera House. Fellow militant/grassroots cleaners’ union UVW has two disputes currently live, as negotiations are ongoing for cleaners at the Ministry of Justice, while strike action over the London Living Wage and attempted union-busting intimidation at Lee Hecht Harrison is expected by the end of the month.

Scenes from a previous cleaners’ protest at the Royal Opera House during the 2015 BAFTA awards.

At Crossrail, this week saw construction workers take action over Balfour Beatty’s refusal to pay the industry standard finishing bonus, following on from a wildcat strike in December. Further strikes are expected in the weeks ahead.

Up in Glasgow, the staff at Dow’s bar stopped work at the end of the year, having been tipped over the edge by unpaid wages, after months of mistreatment, illegal wage deductions and health and safety breaches. You can keep up with their campaign using the Dow’s 6 hashtag, while Glasgow’s drinkers have created the “Anywhere but Dow’s” page to discuss their love of their favoured drinking establishment, Anywhere But Dow’s: “Nae over-the-top hassle when running late or calling in sick. Nae illegal deductions. Nae chance of being worked into an early grave. Nae lecherous, otter-obsessed, faux-gangster, pish-talking bampots for owners either.”

This week also saw railway workers across the country striking in the latest round of the long-running “keep the guard on the train” dispute. In Manchester, First Bus drivers based at the Rusholme depot have been striking after finding out that they’re earning almost £100 a week less than bus drivers doing the same job elsewhere in the city, and this week the cops forcibly broke a blockade of the depot by strike supporters. It’s not the first time there’s been a mass blockade of the depot, and a “solidarity with Rusholme” page has now been set up to co-ordinate support as the dispute continues.

Looking ahead, on Sunday 14th there’ll be a joint fundraiser for the Rusholme bus strikers and the housing maintenance workers who’ve been taking determined strike action at Mears/Manchester Working Limited, at the White House Club in Bowker Vale, Manchester. You can also donate directly to the Mears strike fund here, or join them on their picket lines for their upcoming strike dates on January 15, 18, 22, 25, 29, February 1, 5 and 8. Sunday 14th will also see the next silent walk for Grenfell in London.

In non-workplace news, Elephant & Castle residents will be taking to the streets on Tuesday 16th to object to a proposed development that would “regenerate” the area by building a thousand new unaffordable luxury flats.

On Saturday 20th, Birmingham homecare workers will be on strike against an attempt to impose new rotas, and are asking for public support on the day. That day will also see Picturehouse staff at five cinemas launching 13 days of consecutive strike action in their long-running campaign for the living wage, a move that management have responded to by declaring a total lock-out of the Ritzy cinema. You can donate to their strike fund here to help the workers beat back this attempt to starve them out.

At Fujitsu, victimised union rep Ian Allinson has just been sacked via a letter that was sent to him while he was off on compassionate leave for a family funeral. Workers at Fujitsu Manchester have now voted to take strike action on January 24th-26th, the 30th, and then the 8th-14th of February as part of the fight against compulsory redundancies and the victimisation of union reps.

On Thursday the 25th, security officers and receptionists organised through the grassroots IWGB union at the University of London will be striking as part of their campaign against outsourcing and discriminatory employment practices. As well as joining them on the day, you can also support the campaign against a two-tier workforce by donating to their strike fund here.

On Saturday 27th, there’ll be a rally in Doncaster in defence of South Yorkshire Women’s Aid and Louise Harrison, the service worker who’s been threatened with dismissal for her role in the campaign to keep the centre open.

Down in Hackney, cleaners at six schools will be striking against attacks on their pay and conditions by cleaning contractor OCS, walking out from January 30th-Feb 2nd and then again on Monday 5th.

Finally, a quick piece of international news: the international trend of workers organising in response to Deliveroo’s new, flexible exploitation continues, as this year has already seen strike action by Deliveroo riders in Haarlem and Brussels.

Posted in Protests, Strikes, Unions, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Antifascists (2017) available to watch online

The Antifascists, a 2017 documentary produced by people involved in the Swedish and Greek antifascist movements, is now available to watch online:

As always, these kinds of films are most interesting if used as a prompt for discussion, so you might want to consider getting a group together and hosting a showing of it where you live. It’s around 75 minutes long, so probably long enough for an event in its own right, but if you want further materials to watch, there’s also Nästa Station Rönninge, a half-hour film about an annual nazi march in Salem, Stockholm, and the resistance that eventually stopped it:

And Bash the Fash, an entry in sub.media’s “Trouble” series of half-hour programmes, featuring interviews with antifascists from a variety of countries:

Posted in Racism, The right | Tagged , , | 1 Comment