A strike by pub workers in Brighton has turned violent with the aggressive union-busting landlord, Zakaria Abedi, physically assaulting one of the striking workers on Saturday night. The assault took place in the street outside the closed Stonegate-leased pub, which had been shut by a successful strike which saw the workers and over 100 supporters gather outside the SJT.
Police were called to the pub on Saturday night and the landlord’s assault was reported by the striking workers. Before the police arrived the landlord’s nephew, who works as a chef at the pub, threw a punch, without any provocation, at one of the SJT workers’ supporters.
These attacks come after weeks of vicious union busting, which has seen workers face infringements of their employment, contract and human rights. In response, the workers are bringing further legal action against the bosses. At midnight on Wednesday, strike leader Jake Marvin was suspended from their job without due process. The landlord has been overheard saying he would not be coming back.
Hundreds of trade unionists have emailed the pub landlords protesting against the union-busting and what they feel is trade union victimisation.
A UVW member and SJT worker, speaking anonymously as they felt “scared of what they can use against me”, said:
“When I realised Zak was unlocking the chain, I started to record for my own safety. I know how aggressive he can be. When he was carrying the chain towards me it was extremely scary, then he yelled “stop recording” and smacked the phone out of hand. I’m sure if the phone wasn’t here he would have hit me, it’s how I felt. I was shaking all day Sunday. It was a terrifying experience that escalated in anger and physical abuse very quickly. Then today, twenty minutes before my shift, I received a message letting me know I was not needed due to a downturn in business. I think this is a false claim as there are usually two people on shift in the days and there are two people working there today. One of them was meant to be me as I was scheduled on.”
Former SJT employee and eye witness, speaking anonymously, said:
“I was forced out of a job I loved because of the new owner’s behaviour. I wanted to support my friends and ex-colleagues in their brave struggle to stand up and take action. It was incredible to see the support they had built on their first strike day and I was proud to stand with them.
Unfortunately things took a turn for the worst later that evening. Having heard word at around 10:30 pm that the owners were threatening a fellow supporter outside the SJT, we returned to film from a distance. At this point I witnessed the owner and the chef shoving members of the public and staff, screaming and threatening, wielding a chain in hand. Then I became the target of the chef who tried to grab my phone aggressively but I managed to keep my distance until my comrades intervened. There is no place in this industry for the owners of SJT’s disgraceful and violent behaviour that I witnessed on Saturday night. They have turned a once vibrant community pub into a living hell for the patrons and staff. They need to go, so we must fight the right way, and we will win!”
Petros Elia, general secretary for UVW, said:
“The behaviour of SJT landlords is unlawful and criminal. Zak and Vicky have not only flouted UK employment law but they have also attempted to stamp all over our members’ human and trade union rights to freedom of assembly and association.
“In addition to suffering victimisation and discrimination, our members have also witnessed and suffered violent assaults from the Zak. This is not only criminal behaviour that has been reported to the police, but also a breach of their licensing obligations which has been reported to the local licensing authorities, who we hope will be intervening in this matter.
“We now call on Simon Longbottom, CEO of Stonegate Group to intervene to ensure compliance with statutory licensing law and to live up to their own values that sees Stonegate encouraging ‘publicans to be actively involved in their communities and put their pubs at the heart of local life.’
“These publicans are damaging the local community, causing scandals and hardship to members of the local community. Stonegate needs to intervene now.
“Our members at SJT will continue to campaign and strike to ensure they are treated with dignity and respect, and are given a safe workplace. We remain available for negotiations at any time.”
For further information contact the UVW comms team.
Isabel: 07706 987443
Jim: 07749 765264
Notes for editors
United Voices of the World 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 BAME 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.
Previous UVW press releases about the SJT dispute