Several hundred precarious workers and supporters marched behind the banner of the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) in a united protest action at London’s High Court yesterday.
The IWGB was in the court facing global taxi giant Uber. The company is appealing against an earlier judgement that former Uber drivers Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar were workers and consequently entitled to employment rights such as a guaranteed minimum wage and holiday pay.
Amongst the demonstrators was Jamie Ramstein, a bicycle courier member of the IWGB. He said: “This is my first demonstration like this. We are hoping to achieve better working rights and equality in the work fleet. I work for The Doctors Laboratory (TDL) on the medical circuit picking up blood samples and any kind of medical samples which we take to the lab.
“We are out in any weather. We have no employment rights at all. No pay at all if we are ill, no sick or holiday pay. We survive by just coming in to work even if we have an accident. It can be a dangerous job, especially in treacherous weather conditions, such as the beast from the east last year. It’s about the rights of all workers who are getting together and unionising.”
Amongst the many groups on the demonstration was Justice for Cleaners Goldsmiths.
Tom, a member of Goldsmiths University staff and a student, said: “Goldsmiths Workers Action is a new group that we have created which involves cleaners, security guards and caterers”.
Earlier this year, Goldsmiths Justice for Cleaners scored a victory by bringing cleaning staff in-house, after staff and students put pressure on the University to cancel its outsourcing contract with ISS, a Danish employment agency.
“Students and staff are working to support outsourced workers as part of this campaign,” Tom said. “The students can do the mobilisation and campaigns, because the workers are in a very precarious situation. If they strike they get into trouble and might lose their jobs. So it’s up to the students to show solidarity and stand up for them. The IWGB has given us advice.”
Reporting: Corinna Lotz
Photos: Peter Arkell & Corinna Lotz