Solidarity Federation wins unpaid wages in Newcastle

Solidarity Federation wins unpaid wages in Newcastle

Just in time for May Day, another pay packet win for SolFed - this time it's Newcastle Local's turn.

Newcastle Local have just won a substantial unpaid wages pay claim with a glazing and building company, based in Monkseaton, Tyne and Wear.

Acting with a worker who contacted us for support after unsuccessfully battling her former boss for wages due to her, and having agreed a demand and strategy, Newcastle SolFed initiated a public awareness campaign drawing attention to the behaviour and practices of the owner of the shop. The owner is notorious for his abuse of workers' rights: summarily sacking and not paying workers, as well as deducting money from wages for taxes that he never pays.

Despite empty threats, harassment and intimidation to both the former employee and to Newcastle Local, the company capitulated due to door-to-door leafleting of the neighbourhood, four days before his shop was planned to be picketed.

Newcastle Local would have preferred the company to have promptly paid the money owed - a four figured sum - without having to resort to direct action, thus keeping the name of the company out of the public domain. However due to the owner's slippery attempts at delay his public shaming was unavoidable.

The intimidation and harassment only served to increase our determination with the result of a quick and easy win for the Local that gained us an extra member.

Taken from the SolFed website

Posted By

plasmatelly
May 1 2014 16:14

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Khawaga
May 1 2014 17:54

Great stuff!

Lugius
May 1 2014 23:18

Well done, comrades!

wojtek
May 1 2014 23:44
daniel dreveny
May 2 2014 12:34

It is good that you won and shared this information.
However I do not like the way the text is written and miss some information.
In which sector is this company situated?
What kind of empty threats did the boss use against you?

I do not find this part very good:

Quote:
Quote:
Newcastle Local would have preferred Jenkinson Glaziers to have promptly paid the money owed - a four figured sum - without having to resort to direct action, thus keeping the name of the company out of the public domain. However due to The bosses slippery attempts at delay his public shaming was unavoidable.

From my point of view it is good that you were pushed to make direct action and go with the company name online - this way you might encourage more workers who have been abused by the same (or other) company as well.

I also do not get the "funny way" it is written but maybe I just do not understand this kind of jokes... I do not think that bosses will start to pay immediately after some A-S union will contact them even after this (and more) quick victory.

Khawaga
May 2 2014 13:26

What are you on about?

MT
May 2 2014 14:39

Khawaga, I am not sure what your sentence means, but Daniel would like to hear more info about this victory (I second him) but at the same time is critical about the way the idea about "public direct action vs. pay immediately when we demand it" is approached in the article. So if you have anything to say about it, say it clearly, not in sentences that might be hard to understand for people whose native language is not English...

Khawaga
May 2 2014 17:23

How on earth I am supposed to know that the person behind a nick has English as his/her second language?

Anyway, I wasn't sure what the post wanted. Some questions are answered in the post, some aren't. But, in any case what do you expect from what appears to be a press release (seemingly written in a hurry so that it can be good news on Mayday)? And the wording appears reflects the language adopted by solidarity networks..

And with regards to this:

Quote:
From my point of view it is good that you were pushed to make direct action and go with the company name online - this way you might encourage more workers who have been abused by the same (or other) company as well.

I disagree. While I think that we should always push for direction action, sadly most workers would most likely be discouraged from contacting SolFed if you went directly to direct action (and again, that direct action was the "last" thing to be tried is tied to, I assume, a strategy of escalation of tactics).

plasmatelly
May 2 2014 18:47

I speak here in a purely personal level. We gave the company a chance - pay up and we walk away, or don't pay up and face escalating direct action with all the public attention that this brings. If we always made public every quick win then employers may think there is no reason to pay up and will fight it no matter what - for all businesses, bad press is not wanted.
daniel dreveny - the type of business is building and glazing. The nature and content of the the threats are best to remain secret, however, as stated in the press release, they were an attempt at intimidation combined with abuse. Apologies if you don't like the way this is written, it certainly wasn't an attempt at being funny. Thanks for the interest, folks.

no1
May 2 2014 19:04
Khawaga wrote:
Quote:
From my point of view it is good that you were pushed to make direct action and go with the company name online - this way you might encourage more workers who have been abused by the same (or other) company as well.

I disagree. While I think that we should always push for direction action, sadly most workers would most likely be discouraged from contacting SolFed if you went directly to direct action (and again, that direct action was the "last" thing to be tried is tied to, I assume, a strategy of escalation of tactics).

Our understanding of the word 'direct action' is that it is action capable of achieving our aims directly, i.e. without intermediaries such as bureaucrats, courts, politicians etc. That can mean things like pickets or communications blockades, but it can also mean just writing a letter, which often puts enough pressure to get results. So direct action isn't necessarily massively militant.

boozemonarchy
May 2 2014 19:15

Well done Newcastle SolFed!

daniel dreveny
May 2 2014 19:59

Thanks for answers plasmatelly and no1 .
Khawaga sorry for being unclear, it is because of my English.

Anyway the reason I wanted to know more backround is that I want to translate this text into English - it is exactly about the topic I think is important to share - how to solve issues with employers with A-S organization.

I understand your press release a bit better now. To make sure you also understand my position - sure I am also for contacting with letters etc. and slowly escalated conflict. I did not say, we should go with banners and do pickets etc. every time.

Maybe I just misunderstood at the beginning - it seemed to me, that you were kind of sad, that you "have to" go on public - because company lost credit - but who cares if they behaved badly?

to Khawaga:
My argument is, that if you go public and name the company - this could encourage workers - and I am talking from the experiencies with OTTO agency for example (Vrije Bond, ZSP, Priama akcia). Ok, it is a little bit different while it is not one-time issue but campaign. But this is my experience and I can see some parallels.

Khawaga
May 2 2014 22:39

No1: makes sense. I guess I operate with a more narrow definition, though I like yours.

Daniel: I can see your point as well. But from where I live, shaming a company public could lead to workers not wanting to contact a solnet, though that's likely because the city I live in is very conservative and militancy in general is more or less non existent.

Tyrion
May 3 2014 05:22
no1 wrote:
Khawaga wrote:
Quote:
From my point of view it is good that you were pushed to make direct action and go with the company name online - this way you might encourage more workers who have been abused by the same (or other) company as well.

I disagree. While I think that we should always push for direction action, sadly most workers would most likely be discouraged from contacting SolFed if you went directly to direct action (and again, that direct action was the "last" thing to be tried is tied to, I assume, a strategy of escalation of tactics).

Our understanding of the word 'direct action' is that it is action capable of achieving our aims directly, i.e. without intermediaries such as bureaucrats, courts, politicians etc. That can mean things like pickets or communications blockades, but it can also mean just writing a letter, which often puts enough pressure to get results. So direct action isn't necessarily massively militant.

Even if a letter does get results, though, I'm not sure it's really very direct; the letter writers are still appealing to the recipient, to their morality or rationality. I think this is very qualitatively different than striking because you don't want to work under whatever existing conditions (or work in general) or engaging in a slow down because you don't want to work at any faster a pace. Or outside the workplace action, like stealing food because you're hungry and who cares how many pieces of paper or metal tokens you have. Maybe this is just semantics.

plasmatelly
May 3 2014 07:32

I dunno Tyrion, I have to disagree here. Action is either taken by the worker/s themselves with their control or it is done indirectly, effectively delegated to representatives or intermediaries. Sure, a letter that outlines demands, threatening an escalation of direct action is not the same as removing labour, but it is direct action, only it's the first worker-controlled step in something that would lead to actions like striking and occupations. It also serves as a good entry point; a boss must have a clear understanding why action is taking place and how it can stop. Like in this dispute, we served one letter, outlined our demands, the channel of communication and what would happen by a set date should the full amount not be paid; the money wasn't paid and the dispute escalated.

Caiman del Barrio
May 3 2014 14:28
daniel dreveny wrote:
From my point of view it is good that you were pushed to make direct action and go with the company name online - this way you might encourage more workers who have been abused by the same (or other) company as well.

I could not disagree more strongly with this: surely the important thing is to get the worker paid, and then, as a secondary aim, promote DA as the most effective tactic? I think the sort of thinking where we should pray for obstinacy from the bosses is immiserationist (wanting things to get worse in the hope that people will 'do something'). Moreover, we advocate DA cos we think it's the most effective method of getting workers what they want: if it proves to be difficult or impossible, then we should consider changing our methods surely? To think otherwise is to lose contact with reality.

Having said that, there have been a significant number of similar cases where there has not been a 'quick' victory and we haven't escalated to the full potential, usually cos the boss makes an insincere promise as a delaying tactic and by the time it's clear it won't materialise, the worker is demoralised and has moved on. I think SF would do well to use the IWA as a tool of international solidarity. That's the point of it after all.

EDIT: and of course, props to Noo'as'ell.

daniel dreveny
May 3 2014 18:16

Caiman del Barrio, I think I have explained already what was meant with the sentence you have quoted... It is not the meaning you interpretated it.

I wrote:

Quote:
Maybe I just misunderstood at the beginning - it seemed to me, that you were kind of sad, that you "have to" go on public - because company lost credit - but who cares if they behaved badly?

and also gave example when it has been very positive to go online with company name:

Quote:
My argument is, that if you go public and name the company - this could encourage workers - and I am talking from the experiencies with OTTO agency for example (Vrije Bond, ZSP, Priama akcia). Ok, it is a little bit different while it is not one-time issue but campaign. But this is my experience and I can see some parallels.

I also explained that I do not think we should do picket as some "rule" - I mention this again now, because your comment seems like you think that I have kind of rigid thinking...

Quote:
To make sure you also understand my position - sure I am also for contacting with letters etc. and slowly escalated conflict. I did not say, we should go with banners and do pickets etc. every time.

Sorry, I have no idea what means this slang:

Quote:
Caiman del Barrio
EDIT: and of course, props to Noo'as'ell.

Regarding what you wrote:

Quote:
I think SF would do well to use the IWA as a tool of international solidarity. That's the point of it after all.

I would not call IWA as a tool - because there are people behind IWA - and I do not like to feel as a tool wink
--) I am pretty sure we need more discussion within IWA, because there have been very good solidarity appeals but also very weak. Therefore I think it is better to not "use" IWA but with respect to other sections to ORGANISE together with other IWA sections international solidarity. That means to inform about the backround, current status, plans etc. - whatever is needed for Sections to feel that we are part of fight, not just some tool.

Spikymike
May 4 2014 10:24

This action by the SolFed, like some other politically inspired groups using the SeaSol methodology, seems to be a perfectly sensible way of going about resolving a limited individual workers/tenants etc problem in the absence of more self-generated collective action (and could in fact be just what a bunch of friends do for their mates), but it does more or less amount to using some very limited direct action tactics to simply enforce capitalism's own regulations against the more wayward 'criminal' employers and landlords for which other remedies are at least sometimes available and in itself doesn't therefore necessarily contribute to any ideological challenge to the normal functioning of the system. Seems OK perhaps as one very small element amongst others contributing to the building of what, for instance the AF refers to as, a 'community of resistance' but hardly any substitute for self-generated class wide resistance to capitalist crisis.

Steven.
May 4 2014 12:53

sub editing note: title changed, tags added, external image removed and added to the article itself