This month, the heroic cleaners’ strike at 100 Wood Street came to an end after close to two months of all-out action. Their official statement just says that “the dispute has been resolved”, and this story from the Evening Standard mentions that they can’t disclose the exact terms of the agreement. They definitely won the living wage, but it’s hard to say what else was or wasn’t gained. This article from the UVW’s general secretary and a supporter gives a bit more information on their organising among low-paid workers in the capital.
Not long after the Wood Street strike finished, another impressive dispute flared up: workers employed by the takeaway delivery startup Deliveroo have launched a wildcat strike over a proposed new contract that would move them fully on to piecework and take away any guarantee of secure income. The UVW union have shared a great video of the Deliveroo drivers engaging in some proper collective bargaining with a manager:
You can also watch more coverage from Channel 4 News. The Deliveroo dispute has also been covered on Novara, and the IWGB Couriers and Logistics Branch have taken the cause up, meaning that their facebook and twitter pages are good places to keep up with the latest news from the dispute. Interestingly, the IWGB write-up mentions that IWGB couriers not employed by Deliveroo went to deliver the strikers’ demands to management, in order to avoid any existing employees being victimised as ringleaders. In some ways, this seems far from ideal, in that it potentially shifts power out of the hands of the strikers and over to outside organisers; but on the other hand, it also seems like a pretty reasonable response to the threat of a vicious management looking for “ringleaders” to sack. A crowdfunding page has already been set up to raise funds for the striking drivers, which is one way that those of us who are far from the action in London can contribute.
It might also be worth thinking about other ways that you might be able to spread the word and discuss the dispute with Deliveroo drivers in your area – their list of restaurants mentions that, as well as London, they also cover Brighton, Oxford, Cambridge, Reading, Guildford, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Southampton, Cheltenham, Leicester, Cardiff, Sheffield, Chester, Glasgow, Bournemouth, Exeter, Harrogate, Bath, Aberdeen, Newcastle, Derby, Coventry, York, Norwich, Portsmouth, Belfast, Durham, Milton Keynes, St Albans, Stoke-on-Trent, Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks, Watford, Leamington Spa, Ellesmere Port, Basingstoke, Windsor, Lytham St Annes, and Hereford, which means that they must have drivers employed in all those places, and so the potential for the strike to spread there. (Further thoughts on this: the IWGB write-up mentions that the new contracts are only being trialled in certain areas, so depending on where you are, the changes could already have been made, or not even mentioned yet. On the other hand, the Novara article says “the structure of Deliveroo means that workers come into contact with each other… For Deliveroo, the city is divided up into zones with assigned meeting points close to popular restaurants to minimise delivery times. In the quieter periods drivers wait and chat together, providing the opportunity to begin collectively organising.” And if there’s one of those meeting points near you, it’s a safe bet that workplace grievances of one kind or another will be being discussed.)
Speaking of the IWGB couriers branch, they’ve also had a noticeable success recently in pressuring Mach1 to sign up to the real London living wage. Other grassroots unions doing good work include Bristol IWW, who recently won victories over wage theft at dodgy social care company Your Lifestyle and at Beefeater Restaurant. Meanwhile, Manchester SolFed have taken up a similar campaign against the wage-stealing bosses at Laibaz restaurant in Bolton, and are looking to escalate their campaign in the near future if Laibaz don’t pay up.
Finally, over at the more mainstream end of trade unionism, not many unions are more active than the RMT, who currently have live disputes with ScotRail, Southern Trains, Eurostar, Virgin East Coast, and with Shell in the North Sea – trying to keep up with which of these strikes are on and which have been suspended would almost be a fulltime job in itself.