JD Wetherspoon workers to strike in October

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

London rally: Staff at two JD Wetherspoon pubs in Brighton said they will strike after feeling "underpaid and undervalued" by the pubco  (Image: The Voice of Hassocks, Wikimedia)
London rally: Staff at two JD Wetherspoon pubs in Brighton said they will strike after feeling "underpaid and undervalued" by the pubco (Image: The Voice of Hassocks, Wikimedia)

Related tags: Wetherspoon

Staff at two JD Wetherspoon pubs in Brighton have voted to take industrial action next month, in a bid for higher wages and union recognition.

Employees at the Bright Helm and the Post & Telegraph in the seaside city voted unanimously in a secret postal ballot to take action for higher wages and union recognition.

Workers will gather together for a rally in London's Leicester Square on the morning of 4 October, and have dubbed the action #SpoonStrike. They will be joined by employees from several TGI Fridays and McDonald's branches who are also calling for higher wages.

Wetherspoon workers also want to see the pubco pay employees of different ages the same rate, and argued a planned pay rise ​of £27m next year was not sufficient. The aim of the strike is to achieve a £10-an-hour wage.

Unanimous support

The vote was organised with the fast-food workers campaign within the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), which organised McDonald's workers in an unprecedented strike last year.

Ballots were sent to more than 20 people in Brighton and there was a 100% endorsement of strike action, organisers confirmed to The Guardian​ newspaper.

Matt Rouse, a kitchen worker at the Bright Helm, said the team was excited.

He added: "I’ve been inspired by my co-workers as we stand together to call out injustice in our workplaces.

"We are determined to stand together and make our demands for £10 an hour for all and union recognition heard. This is only the beginning, we will keep fighting for everyone, for better wages and rights for hospitality workers across the country.”

Chris Heppell, 29, a kitchen worker at the Post & Telegraph, said he had financially struggled during his four years' employment at the chain.

He said: “The McStrikers standing up for £10 an hour and the union showed us that if we come together we can make our voices heard.

“We've had enough of being underpaid and undervalued."

Dignity

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, has given her support to workers at the pub chain.

She said: "All staff campaigning for the basic dignity of a living wage have my full support.

"I’ve heard awful stories of constituents having to live in hostels, despite working incredibly long hours at Wetherspoon.

"It's time for big companies to reward employees for the massive contribution they make to their profits."

Lucas said in a blog post she would write to JDW chairman Tim Martin and urge him "to treat staff with the dignity they deserve, and to reward them financially for the massive contribution they make to the company’s profits by paying them a genuine living wage".

Ronnie Draper, general secretary of the BFAWU, said the union was proud to support the pub and fast food workers in “taking a stand against poverty pay”.

“By coming together in a union they are showing the way to tackle low pay and lack of respect across the whole hospitality sector,” he added.

Employees from McDonald's in Brixton, Crayford, Cambridge and Watford, TGI Fridays workers in Milton Keynes and London's Covent Garden and Stratford  will join Brighton workers on the rally, alongside a delegation of hospitality workers from four continents.

JD Wetherspoon has been contacted for comment but had not responded by the time of publication. 

Related topics: Legislation, JD Wetherspoon

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