Peoples’ Agenda profile 5: Unite Hotel Workers

Organised hotel workers draw on inspiration from their counterparts in New York, in this fourth profile in our People's Agenda series

April 7, 2015 · 3 min read

Hotel Workers

peoples agenda ‘Hotel workers in NYC have the best terms and conditions in the world. Their starting rate is $24 (£16) per hour. They achieved this through solid workplace organising and wider community support and direct action. If they can make it there we can make it anywhere!’

The Unite the Union hotel workers branch has been going strong for ten years. We have 1000 members which is a sizeable number but considering that 100,000 people work in the London hotel industry, we still have a long way to go. We want union access and recognition, the best pay (Living Wage as a minimum) and conditions possible, and a total culture change which right now is described by workers as slavery, and rife with exploitation, zero hours and precarious work, bullying and fear.

We believe in equality, grassroots member-led action and democracy, and being part of social movements. Our members have been active in anti-war and anti-austerity protests, we see ourselves as part of a UK and international movement for economic, social and climate justice.

Our tactics include: workplace collective actions, pickets and protests, regular advice surgeries, conferences and training, the use of social media, performance and art including a comic drawn by one of our leading members, former room attendant Barbara Pokryszka, plus outreach to other campaigns and community groups. We are also establishing HEAT teams – Hotel Employee Action Teams – across major hotel chains. These are workplace activist committees modelled on the New York union Unite Here!’s experience.

Want to find out more? @hwunite //  https://www.facebook.com/hotelworkersunite

Red Pepper are running the People’s Agenda series in the run up to the General Election, demonstrating the breadth of exciting grassroots political activity in the UK.

Join Red Pepper for our free event on 22 April in London- Beyond the Ballot Box: Ways we can Win.


Gender, class and cliché in the BBC’s Normal People

Normal People shows the complexities of class mobility, but can’t avoid class and gender stereotypes, says Frances Hatherley

Momentum

Forward Momentum: democracy isn’t a distraction

Democracy isn’t a distraction, says Deborah Hermanns - it’s the only way to transform Momentum and the Labour Party and effectively build power in our communities.

Transgender Pride Flag

This government is failing trans people: Labour must take a stronger stand

Aisling Gallagher explains why Liz Truss’ recent rhetoric on proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act signals a worrying shift.


The politics of Covid-19: a crisis for cleaners

Cleaners are being ignored in the government’s provision of a safety-net during the pandemic. The current crisis is rooted in a long history of domestic work being made invisible, writes Laura Schwartz

Kes - unshorn hair - is an article of faith for Sikhs (Credit: Shreyans Bhansali)

Sacrificing sovereignty: Sikhs and Covid-19

Against a backdrop of militaristic rhetoric, Shuranjeet Singh interrogates why some Sikhs are being forced to choose between their faith and their patients

The politics of Covid-19: the frictions and promises of mutual aid

Thousands of mutual aid groups have sprung up around the UK, grounded in different experiences and perspectives. Amardeep Singh Dhillon asks: Whose vision of community-serving work will win out?