TGIF Steals Tips of Workers in UK


IUF worker solidarity appeal





Workers at two UK restaurants of the US-based franchise chain TGI Friday’s struck for 24 hours on May 18 after being given two days’ notice that they would be stripped of 40% of their income from tips – a loss of up to GBP 250 per month. Workers at two other TGI Friday’s locations have voted 100% in favor of possible strike action on June 25, with other locations set to follow.

As the strikes commenced on May 18, the IUF-affiliated Unite held lunchtime rallies at the restaurants to support the strikers before moving on to a mass low-pay rally in Central London including McDonald’s workers.

You can support the fight back against exploitation and low pay – CLICK HERE to send a message to CEO Karen Forrester, telling the company you support the workers’ demands and urging talks with Unite.


Largest UK Union Attacks Troika on Greece

by Paul Garver

The largest union in the United Kingdom, UNITE, representing 1.4 million members, issued the following statement in solidarity with Greece in its confrontation with European high finance and conservative politicians.

Last Sunday 5th July 2015 the Greek people sent a clear and unequivocal message that the era of austerity must end. UNITE congratulates them for their courage in standing up to the relentless intimidation and pressure of the Troika. The referendum was not about leaving the European Union or the Euro, all indications are clear that Greece wants to remain in the European Union and in the Euro, however it was a clear message that Europe needs to change.

The policies that have been imposed on Greece over the last five years have been a disaster on every measure. Unemployment and poverty have rocketed, the economy has shrunk by 26% and the debt has continued to soar. The crisis facing Greece was not caused by the Greek people – yet they have been made to pay the price time after time. A new approach is needed that starts by putting the interests and needs of the people of Greece ahead of those of the international bankers that caused the crisis in the first place. UNITE will continue to stand in solidarity with the Greek people and ahead of the coming summit on Sunday 12th July 2015 and urges the European Commission and European Governments to engage honestly with the new proposal of the Greek government to find a long term sustainable solution.

UNITE strongly condemns the comments made in the lead up to the referendum by many senior European and international figures. The language that has been adopted towards Greece displays an unacceptable arrogance and it is this attitude that has played a key role in the failure to find acceptable solutions. The call of the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, to replace the democratically elected government with a government of technocrats is a disgrace and epitomises everything that is wrong.

It is not Greece that needs the imposition of a technocratic government it is Europe that must listen to the democratic will of the people of Greece. Greece has been used as a laboratory for the policies of austerity. That experiment has now failed, as it is failing in the UK and elsewhere across Europe. It is up to the political leaders of Europe to now sit down with the Government of Alexis Tsipras and reach a deal that is sustainable and ensures a future for Greece based on solidarity, the future of Europe depends upon getting it right.

New Zealand Fast Food Workers Win Minimum Hours Guarantee

by Mike Treen, National Director, Unite

indonesia fast food nz

[Ed. note: Fast food industry workers in New Zealand have been organized by the Unite union for over a decade. Their relative strength has enabled their union to play an active role in the international campaigns to organize the fast food industry, both giving support to the Fight for $15 in the USA and receiving support from fast food workers in other countries through the IUF for their own campaigns. The photo shows a support demonstration from workers in Indonesia.-pg]

Workers in the fast food industry in New Zealand scored a spectacular victory over what has been dubbed “zero hour contracts” during a collective agreement bargaining round over the course of March and April this year.

The campaign played out over the national media as well as on picket lines. The victory was seen by many observers as the product of a determined fight by a valiant group of workers and their union, Unite. It was a morale boost for all working people after what has seemed like a period of retreat for working class struggle in recent years.

Workers in the fast food industry have long identified “zero hour contracts” as the central problem they face. These are contracts that don’t guarantee any hours per week, meanwhile workers are expected to work any shifts rostered within the workers “availability”. Managers have power to use and abuse the rostering system to reward and punish, without any real means of holding them to account.

This year, all the collective agreements with the major fast food companies (McDonald’s, Burger King, Restaurant Brands) expired on March 31. We were already in dispute with Wendy’s, as their agreement remains unresolved from last year. Unite Union was determined to end the system of zero hours and get guaranteed hours included in the new collective agreements. We had no illusions that this was going to be easy. We knew this would be a tough battle and we needed to prepare for that reality if we were to have a chance of success. At organising meetings I would sometimes use a phrase that appealed: “If you want peace, prepare for war”. I was told later it is taken from a Latin adage: “Si vis pacem, para bellum”. Whoever coined the phrase, it is a wise strategy.

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Why We Need a Labor Movement

English: Logo for London School of Economics

English: Logo for London School of Economics (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Len McCluskey is the General Secretary of the Unite union in the UK. This Lecture at the London School of Economics  on Jan. 15, deals with  class consciousness, class struggle,  neo liberalism, labor and the role of the unions in the UK. You can view the video here.

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The Demerger of UNITE HERE: Worse than a Messy Divorce?

paul-garver-edited by Paul Garver

The break-up of the marriage of convenience between UNITE and HERE is over power within the relationship, over money and over custody (jurisdiction).

The initial 2004 merger between a union facing decline in its garment sector but owning the Amalgamated Bank (UNITE), with a union with growing membership prospects but weak financial resources (HERE) made tactical sense at the time, but always posed a considerable risk of incompatibility.
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Blowing a Whistle on Negative Campaigning

Although I am nobody’s referee, I know a foul when I see one. Some time ago I called one on national SEIU’s disruption of the Labor Notes Conference. Now I’ve detected another one in one piece of UHW’s negative campaign against Andy Stern.

The violation consists of what I consider an imbalanced criticism of an agreement between SEIU and UniteHere on the one hand and global service TNCs Sodexho and Compass on the other.

The UHW’s SEIUVoice site is carrying a front-page Wall Street Journal article of 10 May. The WSJ article “reveals” the existence of a three-year-old “secret pact” that allegedly raises substantial questions about union transparency and workers’ rights.
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