Ferdy Lyons, Chair of Unite LE1646 bar and restaurant workers, and Youth Fight for Jobs steering committee
On 9 March, hospitality workers in the Unite trade union held a day of action in London highlighting their poor treatment.
It kicked off with a demo outside the newly opened Abandon Ship Bar in Covent Garden.
This was to bring attention to how the parent company, MacMerry, has mistreated staff in its Scottish bars. Those workers have raised a collective grievance against the employer, which has lead to one union member being suspended and unceremoniously escorted from one of the bars while on shift.
This was followed by a great show of internationalism, with a joint meeting between Unite Hospitality and Unite Here (US hospitality union) regarding organising across borders in global hotel chains, and the exchange of organising tactics.
With the delegation sent by Unite Here, we then rallied outside the Chiltern Firehouse, whose owner sacked all the staff at Chateau Marmont, his US hotel in Los Angeles, at the start of the pandemic, and then refused to rehire them once the hotel reopened, even though they were legally obliged to do so.
Unsurprisingly, most of the workers not recalled were Unite Here members and activists.
Hospitality workers are one of the most exploited workforces, and at the rate Unite Hospitality is growing, it’s clear we’ve had enough and want to fight back and make a change.
We need a £15-an-hour minimum wage, an end to zero-hour contracts, safe journeys home, fair tips and equal pay for young workers!