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.


The Socialist Olympics of 1936

Radical workers’ sporting organisations and the 1936 People’s Olympiad illustrate the role of sport in fighting oppression, writes Uma Arruga i López.

Review – You’re History: The Twelve Strangest Women in Music

Lesley Chow argues for a new kind of music criticism that re-evaluates women musicians and "meaningless" music, writes Rhian E Jones

Lying through their legacy-speak

Olympic ‘legacy’ has greased the path for enormous, upward transfer of wealth to the global propertied classes, writes Jules Boykoff


SWexit: What are exit schemes for sex workers missing?

If earning money is a fundamental reason for entering the sex industry, it is also essential to leaving it, writes Marin Scarlett.

Failure to deliver

Major financial institutions have cited Deliveroo’s employment practices for its disastrous public share launch. Alice Martin and Tom Powdrill look at what went wrong and what it might mean for workers’ rights

Power on the picket line: remembering the Burnsall Strike

Almost 30 years on, Sarbjit Johal recalls supporting the strike, which consisted of mostly Punjabi women workers

Want to try Red Pepper before you take out a subscription? Sign up to our newsletter and read Issue 231 for free.