Workplace dispute over contracts etc. - advice needed!

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Joined: 6-01-10
Apr 30 2015 20:08
Workplace dispute over contracts etc. - advice needed!

I'm working for a small company in what is generously termed the arts. I can't go into detail because it would be a giveaway, and the place I work is the kind of awful place where the boss probably considers himself an anarchist.

Some conflict - over unpaid overtime, wages, constant surveillance and assessment, etc. - has been brewing for a few months. A small core group of us have had some successes in chipping away at the excesses of overtime and a few other things. We have just been issued new contracts which are so bad that even the people who previously had been sucking up to the boss are saying they won't sign. We (or a core group of us, anyway) have already had a successful walkout over overtime, and there is lots of talk about more radical demands and action.

I am looking for some help for two things. Firstly, I have some questions about employment law because I am fairly certain the contracts are illegal. Again, can't go into details but broadly they concern whether things like food and accommodation can count towards wages, and the consequences of the distinction between being an employee or a freelancer. We are all fairly clueless about this stuff, and I haven't been able to find anything that helpful online. If anyone thinks they might be able to help or point me in the right direction please message me!

Secondly, I'd welcome some advice akin to the SolFed workplace organiser trainer that I did a few years ago (and was really great). I actually mentioned the training to some workmates and they all wanted to do it, and although I imagine it is way too short notice to arrange anything like that, some guidance from someone with more experience would be great. Again, I have a couple of specific questions but would have to message someone about them. Most of us are recent graduates with little experience of work let alone workplace organising...

Thanks! Also, hi, I haven't posted here in a couple of years...

plasmatelly's picture
Joined: 16-05-11
Apr 30 2015 20:48

Hi mons

Is there a risk that your 'anarchist' boss might read any discussion on your struggle on here?!
If so, you may want to contact SF direct. I can put your request for training to the training officer/s for kick off - PM me if you want me to do this. I think we may be able to help discussing contracts too.

Steven.'s picture
Joined: 27-06-06
Apr 30 2015 22:22

Drop me a line with your phone number and I can give you a call. That sort of legal stuff is my jam

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Joined: 5-10-07
May 1 2015 08:05

Mons! Great to see you around.

First, definitely give Steven a call. He's a labour legislation machine. PM or email me as well, I know another guy - he's an IWW rep - who rivals Steven on that sort of knowledge. (My God, just imagine there love-child...) I'll put you in touch. I think he's actually closer to where you're at as well.

As for shady "freelance" contracts, this sort of shit happen in TEFL all the time. Check out this blog:

In there there's a link for an HMRC website - they're the one's who regulate contract types - in which you can do an online survey that should help you determine your employment status.

Good luck! Would love to hear more about the walkout once this sufficiently dies down for you to be able to be a bit more open.

Joined: 6-01-10
May 1 2015 10:08

Thanks for all your replies, really helpful offers. Will message you all later today.