Workers at the Saint James Tavern (SJT) in Brighton will be on strike for 20 days in July and August, including the weekend of Brighton Pride and the August bank holiday weekend, as part of their fight for better terms and conditions, and for respect in the workplace.
The workers will be walking out of their jobs again in defiance of vicious union-busting by their bosses. Their first two peaceful and joyful pickets outside the pub on 25 June and 2 July were met with physical assaults and the illegal sacking of strike leader Jake Marvin. Marvin has applied for interim relief to be reinstated as bar manager and the landlords have been reported to local licensing authorities.
Other striking workers have been suspended while they are allegedly under investigation after the bosses claimed to have reported the 25 June picket to the police.
One of the leaseholders, Zakaria Abedi, shockingly told the local MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle that he would be sacking all the workers taking part in union activity during a phone call where the local MP was encouraging Abedi to talk to the workers’ UVW union. The workers have now been made aware from a leaked Whatsapp message from the other leaseholder, pub landlady Victoria Bennett, that sackings were planned weeks in advance.
The strikers and their union, UVW, are calling for Stonegate Group, the UK’s largest pub company which leases the SJT, to intervene in the dispute. Having vowed to look into the matter, Stonegate has so far refused to intervene.
Jake Marvin, unjustly sacked SJT strike leader and a UVW member, said: “With these coming strike dates, we are once again asking Stonegate Group to step in. As the owners of the property, it is their responsibility to ensure their tenants are exemplary representatives of Stonegate and valuable contributors to the local community. The behaviour of the leaseholders since the beginning of this action has proved they are anything but and they must, for the sake of the community, end their tenancy NOW!”
Hundreds of supporters from the Brighton local community and the wider union movement have joined the vibrant strike rallies, including local MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, as well as Labour and Green Party councillors. Hundreds have emailed the landlords demanding justice.
Kate Flood, a union organiser for UVW, said: “Following their first days of strike action workers at Saint James Tavern have been subject to victimisation, threats and assault, alongside unlawful disciplinary proceedings, suspensions and dismissals. Stonegate is claiming this is not their responsibility, and the bosses Zak and Vicky are refusing to talk to workers. This is symptomatic of a hospitality industry which is essentially unregulated, and where bosses believe they have carte blanche to treat workers atrociously. We are calling on Stonegate to intervene, and for the trade union movement and the wider community to rally behind the brave workers at Saint James Tavern. The workers will be striking throughout July and August, and we remain available to negotiate at any time, but if bosses would rather turn this into a fight, they have clearly underestimated the workers they are up against.”
Some of the striking workers are also taking their employers to tribunal over alleged harassment, including allegations of sexism, homophobia, transphobia, disability discrimination, as well as anti-Semitic comments.
Image: workers protesting outside St James Tavern, 25th June. Credit: UVW.