A United Voices of the World (UVW) strike leader from the Saint James Tavern (SJT) bar in Brighton has been suspended on the eve of a historic strike by pub workers, in what UVW believes is an unacceptable example of trade union victimisation
· Bar staff at SJT, who are UVW members, will walk out of their jobs at 4:30pm on Saturday 25 June, with supporters holding a rally from 4pm
· 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’
· A solidarity bus with UVW members from London will be joining the SJT worker’s strike rally, as will local MP Lloyd Russell Moyle who will address it.
A strike leader from the Saint James Tavern (SJT) bar in Brighton has been suspended on the eve of a historic strike by pub workers. SJT pub bosses called bar supervisor Jake Marvin into a disciplinary hearing just days after the workers and their union United Voices of the World (UVW) sent notification of official strike dates.
Bar staff at the Saint James Tavern (SJT) in central Brighton will walk out of their jobs on Saturday 25 June at 4pm as they take strike action over low pay and working conditions. A second strike day will take place on 2 July, additional dates will be announced later.
A coach-load of UVW members and supporters from London will be joining the strike rally at 4pm on Saturday 25. Local MP Lloyd Russel Moyle will speak at the rally in support of the workers’ fight against zero-hours contracts and for a decent wage and working conditions.
Marvin has been accused of spurious allegations and not been given substantial evidence. The allegations made against him during the disciplinary meeting were mainly retrospective, relating to events he had never been given a previous warning for, or invited to meet to discuss. The disciplinary hearing followed an investigation meeting held in Marvin’s absence.
Despite suspending Marvin and stating he is not permitted to attend work, the landlords have still been trying to contact him about work-related matters. UVW believes his suspension is an unacceptable and blatant example of trade union victimisation and will mount a legal challenge.
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.
Jake Marvin – St James’ Tavern, bar manager and UVW member:
“I was called into a disciplinary hearing after we announced our strike dates. The allegations made against me during that meeting were mainly retrospective, relating to things I had never been given a previous warning for, or invited to meet to discuss. I have now been suspended pending the outcome of this investigation”.
Kate Flood, UVW trade union organiser:
“We believe that this is a clear case of trade union victimisation, given the disciplinary proceedings contain spurious charges and a lack of clear evidence. Disciplinary proceedings were only brought against workers at Saint James Tavern following a legitimate ballot for lawful industrial action, and immediately after their first strike dates were announced. Jake rightfully challenged this alongside his union but in exchange for asserting his rights and making his case, was suspended from work. We feel this is an unacceptable and blatant example of trade union victimisation, and it will not go unchallenged.””
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.”
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 further information contact the UVW communications team.
Jim: 07749 765264
Notes for editors:
UVW is an anti-racist, member-led, direct action, campaigning trade union and we exist to support and empower the most vulnerable groups of precarious, low-paid and predominantly Black, brown and migrant workers in the UK. We fight the bosses through direct action on the streets and through the courts and demand that all members receive at least the London Living Wage, full pay, sick pay, dignity, equality and respect.
The SJT workers 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); 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 have been garnering support across Brighton and strengthening their bond with the wider union movement. They have participated in various RMT pickets in solidarity with striking railway workers and will do so again on Saturday 25.
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 unwilling to take responsibility towards the workers, claiming the leaseholders, Zakaria Abedi and Victoria Bennett, are the decision makers.
The pub is located on St James’ Street, in the centre of Brighton, known for being the location of most of Brighton’s queer spaces.
18.01.2024 / Press releases
22.11.2023 / Press releases