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29.06.2023 / News /

Former Saint James Tavern striking bar staff win thousands of pounds in compensation as bosses settle all claims.

Former pub Saint James Tavern (SJT) landlords have agreed to pay over £80,000 in compensation to UVW members to settle claims of unfair dismissal, trade union victimisation and harassment. The pub bosses reached a settlement with the brave workers who were abruptly dismissed after they unanimously voted in favour of strike action for decent wages and working conditions.

The compensation award to the workers is in addition to having to pay five of the sacked workers their wages for months, after judges awarded them Interim Relief (IR) in October 2022. IR is a legal device used to support workers who claim they have been unfairly sacked until the final hearing at the Employment Tribunal (ET) takes place. Because an order of IR can bankrupt a small business like the SJT,  judges tend to be cautious and when one does get ordered, we can be fairly sure that there was not a doubt in their mind: some form of union busting had likely taken place and there is a fair chance it will be proven in the final hearing. The SJT bosses must have realised pretty early on they had no chance after they lost the first IR case, not contesting subsequent IR applications by their former employees  or even turning up to the hearings. Whilst their union-busting behaviour – described by local MP local MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle as the landlords being ‘out of control”– will never get to be tested in court, we like to think that compensation is an implicit way of admitting a degree of moral guilt. 

The bosses also settled a harassment discrimination claim brought by eight of the SJT workers which was scheduled to be heard in July 2024. It’s revealing that negotiations for all the claims with the bosses only began after the various preliminary hearings, which successfully ruled or seemed to be heading in the direction of the workers. They continued for months before concluding at a judicial mediation. 

The SJT was a seminal strike for UVW because it was one the the first ever strikes by hospitality workers in the UK, an exploitative sector distressingly under-unionised. It gathered a lot of media attention and attracted a lot of support from the local Brighton community and the labour movement. 

Had the SJT bosses conceded the modest and reasonable demands of the workers – a slight wage increase, a security team on site, a full-pay sick-pay scheme and trade union recognition –  they would have accomplished what any good employer should aspire to: a happy workforce and a reputation for good employment practices which, in turn, would have brought more business and better lives to the SJT family as a whole. Instead, they chose to ignore the workers and their supporters and they encountered the power of collective resolve and solidarity. The bosses could have saved themselves a lot of money in compensation and lawyers fees, the reputational damage to their business, the strike at their doorstep, and the time and energy spent on defending the indefensible: bad employer behaviour.

UVW members are proud and brave workers that fight together with all their might to be seen and heard.

To meet other workers on strike for dignity, equality and respect see here >>


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