Category Archives: News

Victory at cafe in Redfern!

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Sydsol wins again! After three actions at the Perfect Cup cafe in Redfern, Josie has been paid her superannuation. This was only $365 which was a tiny proportion of the profits the boss would have gained from her labour.

Josie had worked at Perfect Cup for three months but had not been paid any superannuation. All employees earning over $450 in a month are entitled to 9.25% superannuation on top of wages earned, but despite multiple requests, Perfect Cup refused to pay up. So SydSol took action.

Josie writes: “The last visit was a memorable experience. Fifteen of us walked with the Sydsol banner from Regent street along Redfern Street, settled ourselves outside the cafe, and handed out flyers to passers by while we chanted ‘Pay Josie her super!’ and ‘The people united will never be defeated!’ The boss was visibly rattled and tried all manner of things to get rid of us – statements, pleas, lies, insults, bargaining, empty threats of calling the police and finally a promise to pay me on Monday etc. He thought he may prompt us to leave by stating: ‘You are affecting my business’, but of course that didn’t work, as the answer was: ‘Good. That’s what we are here for’.”

“We stood fast for at least our planned time which was half an hour. The public walking by were also very interested and supportive except for a couple who seemed to have been invited by the boss to provoke a stoush which very nearly happened.  It was so good to see the boss for once beholden to the workers instead of the other way around. I felt so empowered when I confronted him and said, ‘You are a liar. I don’t trust you. I don’t believe a word you are saying. Only when I see the money transferred will I believe you. We are going to keep coming back here until you pay up.’ Even after this experience he thought he could get away with not paying me. I had to remind him again via text and it took him three weeks after the latest action to finally pay up.”

“However, I was determined not to give up so I knew, no matter how long it took, I was going to win. Nevertheless, I could not have done it without the help of everyone who organised, advertised and turned up. Viva SydSol!!”

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Quick win in Marrickville wage-theft fight

In late May over 25 members and supporters of the Sydney Solidarity Network turned out to support Josie, a worker in Marrickville, as she demanded backpay from her former employer.

Josie had worked for SaveMore, a company which owns a grocery store and a pharmacy in Marrickville. She worked a ‘trial shift’ and then a second shift there in January and February this year, but was not paid for either shift. Despite Josie repeatedly requesting payment, via letters, phone calls and enquiries through her job provider, SaveMore refused to pay for either shift.

So, after months of being ignored, Josie decided enough was enough. With the support of dozens of SydSol members and supporters, Josie confronted SaveMore’s owner, My Trang Nguyen, and presented a letter demanding what was legally hers – wages for the hours that she had worked. If SaveMore did not pay up within two weeks, we promised to return to leaflet passers-by and potential customers to let them know about SaveMore’s shady employment practices.

For several days afterwards SaveMore lied that Josie had never worked for them. Then they agreed that she had, but tried to talk her into accepting less than the minimum wage. Then, when it was clear that Josie wasn’t backing down, they paid up at the minimum wage for a casual pharmacy assistant of $22.48 per hour for four of the seven hours Josie had worked. Although not the full amount, it’s close enough that we’re satisfied and consider it a victory!

Illegal practices like wage-theft and below minimum wage payment are unfortunately very common in the inner-west. However, SydSol has shown that with a bit of organisation it’s possible to get what you’re owed! If you’re being ripped off, contact us today and let’s fight to win.

SYDSOL WINS BACKPAY FOR RESTAURANT WORKER

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In November 2013, SydSol was contacted by a restaurant worker who had been seriously underpaid. Haruki* was an international student who had worked at one branch of a large restaurant chain* for nine months, and for the entire length of his employment was paid well below the minimum wage.

Under the Restaurant Industry Award, which sets the minimum wages for the industry, a casual cook such as Haruki should have been earning at least $21.86 per hour – his payslips, however, showed rates of $16 per hour. On Saturdays, the minimum rises to $26.24 per hour, but Haruki’s pay was only $17 per hour. And on Sundays he was paid at $18 per hour, a whopping $12.61 per hour below the minimum rate. All told, Haruki was cheated out of almost $4,500.

After discussing the matter with Haruki, SydSol agreed to support him in taking action to try to reclaim his lost wages. On 16 November, eight members and supporters of SydSol marched into the restaurant where he had worked. We presented a letter to the restaurant’s manager stating that unless full backpay was provided to their former staff member within 14 days, we would commence escalating protest action.

Less than two weeks later, Haruki was contacted by the managing director of the entire chain (not just the offending outlet). A meeting was organised at which Haruki and the managing director negotiated an outcome that was satisfactory to both.

* Names have been changed for privacy reasons

Victory! SydSol forces Contact Centres to pay up

 

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With less than 48 hours to go before their two-week deadline expired, Contact Centres Australia have caved in to our demands and paid Chris in full for the seven-hour training shift he undertook whilst employed there.

Chris took a second job at Contact Centres for several weeks in April this year. Whilst he received wages for almost all the hours he worked there, after quitting he was never paid for a full-day training shift he undertook. The law requires all employers to pay staff for all time spent working, including training shifts, but despite this Contact Centres simply refused to pay up.

For months Chris sent email after email asking why he had not been paid for all the hours he put in at CCA, but was completely ignored and never received a reply. Chris then turned up with 15 other members of SydSol, confronted management in their offices with a letter demanding payment, and threatened to organise protests outside their offices if payment was not received within 14 days – and then, after months of silence, Contact Centres rushed to pay up in a matter of days.

The message for any other employees anywhere else is clear: bosses – even massive employers such as Contact Centres with overseas offices and over 500 staff – are vulnerable to our actions and, with a bit of organisation, we can force them to give in to our demands. If you’re getting ripped off by your employer, contact SydSol, get organised and let’s fight to win!

SydSol launches!

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Welcome to Sydney Solidarity Network! We are a new, all-volunteer group of workers, students and unemployed who want to come together to defend our rights through collective action.

We believe it is up to us to make our own solutions. We are launching this network because we know that thousands of us face unfair job conditions, and we believe that as community members we can successfully stand up together to powerful bosses when they treat us unjustly. As isolated individuals we have no power, but if we organise and stick together we can be a force to be reckoned with.

We are inspired by similar groups overseas and in Australia, who have used direct action tactics such as pickets, workplace organising and phone blasts to win specific demands and redress the wrongs inflicted upon us by employers, and we want to be able to do the same in Sydney. For an idea of the sort of victories that we want to win, have a look at his video below from  the Seattle Solidarity Network below, or these two stories (1, 2) from UNITE, a small union for retail and hospitality workers in Melbourne.

We are only in our early stages, but if you’re experiencing problems at work contact us and let’s fight to win!