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10.06.2022 / Press releases /

Brighton bar staff launch two days of strike action for better pay and conditions  

Brighton bar staff launch two days of strike action for better pay and conditions  

  • Bar staff at Saint James Tavern (SJT) in central Brighton, who are United Voices of the World (UVW) members, will walk out of their jobs on Saturday 25 June and Saturday 2 July 
  • The workers unanimously voted to strike, with a 100% ‘yes’ vote on a 100% turnout and with a 100% density 
  • The workers are demanding an end to zero-hours contracts, a pay increase to at least £11.50, as well as a full sick pay scheme  
  • Some of the strikers are also suing SJT for alleged harassment and discrimination, including allegations of transphobia, sexism and anti-Semitism 
  • The SJT workers are one of the only groups of pub workers to take strike action in recent years, and hope their fight will serve as an example for others in the industry to fight back against poor conditions and treatment, which are seen as ‘just part of the job’. 

Bar staff at the Saint James Tavern (SJT) in central Brighton are launching two days of strike action over pay and working conditions, job security and respect at work.  

The workers will walk out on Saturday 25 June and Saturday 2 July. Other dates will be announced later. 

The workers, all of whom are members of UVW, unanimously voted to strike in May, with a 100% ‘yes’ vote on a 100% turnout, in a rare and brave display of resolve and togetherness.  

The determined group of workers have had enough of low wages and what they claim are increasingly aggressive outbursts from the landlords.    

Some of those who will be taking strike action are also taking their employers to tribunal over alleged harassment, including allegations of sexism, homophobia, transphobia, disability discrimination, as well as anti-Semitic comments.    

The team are demanding an end to zero-hours contracts, minimum pay of £11.50 for all staff; a full sick pay scheme to all bar staff which includes cover for Covid-19-related sickness absences, rather than the basic Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) they’ve endured during the pandemic; and no cuts to staff hours. They also want a security response team on site at all times as well as voluntary recognition of UVW as SJT workers’ trade union.      

The SJT strikers and their union think their strike action will help unleash a wider worker’s movement in the hospitality sector. The pub industry sector is under unionised and poor conditions and mistreatment are seen as almost ‘part of the job’.  

SJT is leased from Stonegate Group, the largest pub company in the UK, to the current owners. Stonegate has been contacted but they claim not to have the power to make changes at SJT. They seem to be washing their hands of all responsibility towards the workers, claiming the leaseholders, Zakaria Abedi and Victoria Bennett, are the decision makers with regards to staff pay.     

The pub is located on St James’ Street, in the center of Brighton, known for being the location of most of Brighton’s queer spaces.    

 Jake Marvin – St James’ Tavern, bar manager and UVW member:    

“After multiple opportunities to come to the negotiating table, Zakaria Abedi and Victoria Bennet have left us no option other than to go on strike. We demand a real living wage of £11.50 an hour, full sick pay, an end to precarious and often exploitative zero-hour contracts and drastic changes to what we feel is an increasingly hostile work place. On the picket we will show the power we have as united work force and just how much support we have already managed to gain. A change is coming. The only variable is when.”

Tris Houseman, St James’ Tavern, bartender and UVW member:    

“We at the Saint James Tavern are striking for our rights as workers; £11.50 an hour, staff protection, end to zero hour contracts and full sick pay support. We are striking for respect from the people who employ us. We’ve had enough of feeling disrespected and neglected. We deserve to be treated with the same level of care our bosses take to protect their own income. Our struggle isn’t isolated though. So many other pub workers are experiencing what we’re going through to the point where it’s become the norm. This is completely unacceptable and something has to change.” 

Kate Flood, UVW trade union organiser:    

“After trying repeatedly to engage with bosses only to be ignored, workers at the Saint James Tavern have been left with no choice but to strike for a living wage of £11.50, safe working conditions, and recognition of their union United Voices of the World. Hospitality strikes are rarer, and it is even rarer for 100% of workers to vote in favour of strike action. These brave workers are demonstrating that hospitality workers do not have to accept less than they are owed, and are setting the standard for badly needed change across the sector. Workers at Saint James Tavern deserve our full solidarity, because they are not only fighting for themselves, they are sowing the seeds for industrial change across all of hospitality.” 

Petros Elia, UVW general secretary:     

“Saint James Tavern bosses need to listen. They need to cough up a proper wage for their workers who have been left with no choice but to strike to secure one, and they need to treat them with respect. Our demands need to be met, met in full and met now. If not then we will call more and more strike days, and as many as we have to, until justice is won. And one way or the other we will win.” 

For more details head to the campaign page >> 

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