The South London local of the Solidarity Federation were due to picket a pub in London this Friday, in support of an ex-employee who had asked for their assistance. However, today the owner caved into the threat of direct action and paid up.
Laura had her contract terminated after she refused to work because she hadn't been paid for 6 weeks, that is over £700 she has had to live without since mid September. They have had numerous opportunities, broken many promises, ignored calls, not replied to emails and have sent her round in circles passing responsibility between themselves. It was only after Laura contacted us and mobilised friends and family to support her that they paid around half the money she was owed.South London Solfed's campaign was asking supporters and comrades to show solidarity with this campaign by phoning and emailing complaints on the day of the picket. Clearly, combined with the picket itself, the pressure of such disruption was too much for the employer to bear.
Most of us who have worked in less secure employment will have had a similar experience at some point or another. With austerity measures and the growing casualisation of work, the problem is only going to get worse. In the first instance, bad work conditions need to be addressed by workplace organisation and the collective pressure for improved terms and conditions. But redress is also needed for those in situations such as Laura's, where they are no longer employed.
Solfed have won a similar victory previously - against the employment agency Office Angels. Clearly, direct action or the threat of it works against employers who think they can get away with exploiting their workforce in a casualised or precarious environment.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, I would strongly urge you to contact the Solidarity Federation for support and assistance. Winning direct action grievances is one of our main objectives, and we will be more than happy to take such action where there is a fight to be had. An injury to one really is an injury to all, and the more victories like this we can win, the more employers will think twice before robbing their workers.