Freedom News

Brighton: Striking pub worker assaulted by union-busting boss

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 St James Tavern (SJT) Stonegate-leased pub, which had been shut by a successful strike which saw the workers and over 100 supporters gather outside the SJT.

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!”

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.

Petros Elia, general secretary for the UVW, said: “In addition to suffering victimisation and discrimination, our members have also witnessed and suffered violent assaults from 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 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.

Image: workers protesting outside St James Tavern, 25th June. Credit: UVW.

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