Sunday, 27 July 2008

Starbucks Global Day of Action - Belfast picket

Organise! and the WSM picketed Starbucks in Belfast city centre today from 12 to 1 pm. Despite the miserable weather around 12 people joined the picket and leafleted passers by and potential customers outside the coffee shop.

At the start of the picket 3 people had gone inside to leaflet customers and staff. There was a very positive response to the picket however one person was falsely accused of assaulting a Starbuck's member of staff after leafleting staff and customers inside.

As part of the Global Day of Action against Starbucks called by the AIT/IWA and IWW Organise! and the WSM picketed Starbucks in Belfast today (5th July) to demand the reinstatement of Monica, a member of the anarcho-syndicalist member working in their central Seville outlet, and Cole Dorsey, an IWW member who was fired by Starbucks for organising in their Grand Rapids, Michican, shop.

Organise! and the WSM picketed Starbucks in Belfast city centre today from 12 to 1 pm. Despite the miserable weather around 12 people joined the picket and leafleted passers by and potential customers outside the coffee shop. At the start of the picket 3 people had gone inside to leaflet customers and staff. There was a very positive response to the picket however one person was falsely accused of assaulting a Starbuck's member of staff after leafleting staff and customers inside.

While Starbucks present themselves as a trendy, ethical corporation when it comes to their own workers they are ruthless union-busters determined to stop their employees organising. Monica was fired on the 24th of April without notice. She had worked in the central Seville branch of Starbucks for a year and a half when her manager suddenly claimed she "created problems with her workmates". She had resistged management when they made people work public holidays without extra pay. She refused to attend work meetings outside working hours where no pay or time in lieu was offered. Her sacking came after she asked about another worker who had ben fired. The store manager had told her on several occassions that she must have nothing to do with unions.

Barely a month later, in Grand Rapids, Michican, USA, Starbucks fired Cole Dorsey on June 6th. Cole had over two years of service and was active in the IWW Starbucks Workers Union.

Airport Workers Suspend Hunger Strike

Airport workers suspend hunger strike after union gives guarantees that their demands will be met.

The five day hunger strike by three sacked airport shop stewards, Gordon McNeill, Madan Gupta and Chris Bowyer was suspended at 5.30 this afternoon after the workers received a letter from the union solicitors guaranteeing that their demands would be met.

The workers were forced to resort to the drastic step of a hunger strike because their union, Unite, had reneged on commitments given to them last September. These were that the union would pay the legal costs of their long running Industrial Tribunal case against their employer, ICTS, and would also meet the costs of defending the Industrial Tribunal ruling should ICTS appeal the decision. The union also promised to offer them compensation for its role in co-operating with ICTS to have them sacked.

The hunger strike has now been suspended because the union has guaranteed to meet the full legal costs and have opened up negotiations on compensation with a guarantee that this will be settled by the end of April.

Sacked shop steward Gordon McNeill commented at the end of the hunger strike: “We are suspending our action because we now have a firm commitment from the union that they will implement the promises they made last September. We also have a date by which all the issues of dispute should be resolved. We see this as a total vindication of the stand that we have made. Our only regret is that we had to resort to the drastic step of a hunger strike and put our health at risk. If the union had kept their word and implemented what they had agreed last September none of this would have been necessary. We also regret that no union official was prepared to meet and discuss with us face to face during our hunger strike. Had they met us the whole thing could have been resolved very quickly and we would not have had to suffer five days of cold, hunger and thirst. We have made a stand on behalf of all low paid workers by showing that we were not prepared to be pushed around either by our employer or our union. I would like to pay tribute to those people in Ireland, Britain and across the world who inundated Unite union with protests on our behalf."

After coming off the hunger-strike, the workers have had to go to hospital for medical treatment. All are expected to make a recovery.

Issued on behalf of Gordon McNeill, Madan Gupta and Chris Bowyer

Two Hunger Strikers Now in Hospital

wo of the three sacked airport workers on hunger-strike outside their union offices in Belfast are now in hospital. Earlier today Gordon McNeill was rushed to hospital only to be released, Gordon and 72 year old diabetic Madan Gupta are now both in hospital.

Just hours after addressing a solidarity rally outside Transport House in Belfast hunger striker Gordon McNeill was rushed to City Hospital for treatment. An ambulance was called to the scene at Transport House due to a deterioration in his condition. Gordon is on his fourth day without food and his second day without water. Also on hunger strike are Madan Gupta and Chris Bowyer. The former airport shop stewards have taken the action to demand talks with the leadership of Unite/TGWU, who have refused to meet with the workers.

Both Gordon McNeill and Madan Gupta have been rushed to Belfast City Hospital in a critical condition.

Gordon has been hospitalised for a second time. Quickly after returning to Transport House, he and 72 year-old diabetic Madan Gupta were both rushed to Belfast City Hospital. Doctors earlier today warned that both McNeill and Gupta are likely to have suffered irreversible kidney damage as a result of their refusal to eat and drink. UNITE still refuse to meet with the workers who have been fighting for over 6 years for justice.

This dispute began seven years ago when the shop stewards approached the then ATGWU (now part of UNITE) to ballot airport security workers for industrial action to secure a pay increase from a paltry £5.50 an hour to £6.00 an hour. The shop stewards were unlawfully dismissed by multi-national security firm ICTS as a result. The current hunger strike outside Transport House is in protest at UNITE/ATGWU's reneging on a promise to pay the legal costs of an appeal lodged by ICTS.

Last year the shop stewards won a tribunal (without ATGWU backing) that ruled that they had been unlawfully dismissed because of their socialist and trade union beliefs. The leadership of UNITE/ATGWU, who Madan Gupta referred to as "Scum" at a solidarity rally on Wednesday 9th, have refused to pay the legal costs of defending the appeal despite agreeing to meet those costs last September.

ICTS was able to sack the workers because the leadership of the ATGWU repudiated the strike six years ago behind the airport security workers backs. The strike was since found to have been fully legal. UNITE General Secretary Tony Woodley and Irish Regional Secretary and SWP member Jimmy Kelly have continuously reneged on commitments to back the sacked workers. Instead Jimmy Kelly used the police against the hunger strikers and their supporters on two occasions.

Support the hunger strikers. Visit the url listed in the comments below and let UNITE/ATGWU officials know what you think of their treatment of these workers. Visit the protest on the steps of Transport House. Attend the rally today at lunchtime outside Transport House and show your support.

for more into go to indymedia ireland or contact Chris Bowyer on 07764850945, Madan Gupta on 07810290938 or Gary Mulcahy on 07743282321.

Pickets win re-instatement of migrant worker

Following three successful pickets of Delaney’s restaurant in Belfast Dasa Kacova has won all her demands and been offered her job back.

A young Slovakian worker was sacked on the spot from Delaney’s restaurant for asking why she had to remove her jumper at work on a cold January day. Delaney’s owners refused to meet with the worker or with her trade union representative. As a result pickets were organised by ICTU and the Belfast & District Trades Council and were supported by a wide range of trade union and political activists including members of Organise!

ICTU state that they will expose and challenge the mistreatment of workers and in particular migrant workers who are among the most vulnerable in our society. “It is unacceptable in this day and age that employers can still mistreat workers in this way”.

The pickets met with a very positive response from the public. Even the random sample of the public who have passed the picket have produced several first hand testimonies of Delaneys’ management’s mistreatment of workers going back for years. Two former Communication Workers’ Union members who now work at Delaney’s walked off the job to join the picket. One passing schoolgirl when told of the jumper incident remarked, “God, its just like being at school!”

On Saturday 8th of March someone turns up at the picket calling us “Commie bastards” and starts pushing his way through. At first everyone thought he knew someone on the picket and was having a laugh. It turned out to be Mr. Delaney himself. He then called the police. It turned out to be all hot air. After about an hour of negotiations he agreed to all of the workers demands to reinstate Dasa immediately, reimburse her for loss of earnings, pay her outstanding holiday entitlement and to treat all workers fairly.

Understandably she did not wish to return to work under him again and agreed to a full financial settlement.

Belfast anti-water charges picket forces recruitment cancellation

Campaigners claimed their protest today a victory after it was announced that Echo Managed Services, the company responsible for recovering unpaid water charges had cancelled its much publicised open recruitment day.

Echo would collect on behalf of the new water company Northern Ireland Water Ltd.

Secretary of the We Won't Pay Campaign Gary Mulcahy speaking at the protest today warned Echo that today's protest was the first of many to target it's headquarters on Upper Queen St in Belfast.

Mr Mulcahy said " This company is a consortium of multi-national companies who specialise in debt recovery for water companies in Britain. It is a scandal that the Government is paying Echo £70million of taxpayers money to harass and intimidate people into paying water charges, which we already pay for through the rates. We would also like to remind people that this is the same company that labelled working class communities in northern Ireland as being 'Rock Bottom'.

We want to send a clear message to Echo today that they will not get away with threatening people into paying the water double-tax. People are not rock bottom, but on the contrary are rock solid behind the We Won't Pay Campaign's call for mass non-payment of these charges."

We Won't Pay Campaign
PO Box 994 Belfast BT1 1RB
Tel: 90311778 e-mail:

1,000 March in Solidarity with Striking Posties

The Belfast and District Trades Union Council along with postal workers on a two-week wildcat strike marched and rallied yesterday demanding Dignity and Fair Treatment at work.

Assembling at the Tomb Street sorting depot picket line at 12.00 over 1,000 workers marched to a rally at Belfast City Hall in support of striking posties and workers everywhere who are facing harassment and bullying at work.

While the media and Royal Mail management continue to spread lies and misinformation about this dispute Tuesdays march and rally has strengthened the resolve, unity and solidairty of striking posties while providing a platform to put to rest some of these conspicious lies. Organise! attended this march alongside workers from Royal Mail and other workplaces. The SWP, with placards for almost every striking postie present, SP, SF, PUP, SDLP and other parties were also present. As were many trade unionists from Belfast and across the water. Among those speaking from the platform was Kevin Doherty, Secretary of the B&DTUC (who is also a former Shorts shop steward sacked with other shop stewards by the union busting Gary Crawford who was head-hunted by Royal Mail in Belfast to repeat the job with postal workers), and Eamon McCann of Derry Trades Council and the SWP. McCann was perhaps the best speaker on the day - his scathing attack on scabs certainly went down well with postal workers.

On a practical level donations were made to the hardship fund.

The march piles further pressure on the management, and through more such solidarity and direct action we shall overcome.

More information

Support our posties - Belfast march and rally 14th February

A march and rally is being built for Tuesday 14th of February in support of the striking posties and to demand 'Dignity And Fair Treatment In the Workplace'.

As Wildcat action by Belfast Posties entered its 12th day, on Saturday 11th February, street collections took place in Belfast city centre. Posties, fire fighters and other trade unionists, Belfast and District Trades Union Council delegates, members of Organise!, the Socialist Party and SWP collected money and handed out leaflets explaining the dispute.

The collection was initiated following the establishment of a support group for striking workers by the Belfast and District Trades Union Council and a march and rally is being built for Tuesday 14th of February in support of the striking posties and to demand 'Dignity And Fair Treatment In the Workplace'. The march will assemble at the picket line in Tomb Street at 12.00 noon and make its way to a rally at Belfast City Hall for 12.30.

Condemning the 'macho management' at Royal Mail that led to this dispute the B&DTUC issued a statement giving "their whole-hearted support for the striking Postal Workers in their current dispute with Royal Mail. We condemn the harassment and bullying employed by Belfast Royal Mail management against their staff which has lead to this strike. Every employee has the right to dignity at work and to be treated with basic human decency".

More information