This week - the 9th to the 15th - the Solidarity Federation has called for a week of action against Office Angels after they failed to pay a worker for two days he was owed, and a day - Wednesday 11th - to bombard Office Angels with phone calls and e-mails, effectively creating a 'communications blockade'. The response to the call has been excellent, with pickets taking place and planned across the country. This article lays out the background to the dispute, as well as listing the pickets taking place this week.
Since March, the Solidarity Federation (SF) has been involved in supporting a victimised former Office Angels temporary worker. Dan worked for Office Angels in Wimbledon for three days in December of last year. He was assured by the company that the lack of a time-sheet would 'not be a problem'. However, Office Angels are refusing to pay him the wages he is owed - falsely claiming he only worked for one day, despite Dan sitting next to the manager on one of the days for which he is yet to be paid!
The South and North London locals of the Solidarity Federation first held pickets outside Office Angels branches across London, starting with an unannounced picket at the Wimbledon branch where Dan worked. We publically advertised the second picket in advance, but on arrival discovered that they'd decided to close for the day, with "staff training" being offered as an excuse.
In the following week, as well as holding more pickets across London, we issued a call for messages of protest to be sent to the Wimbledon branch, sending emails and phoning Office Angels to complain about Dan's treatment. This acted as an effective "communication blockade" by jamming the methods the Wimbledon Branch office uses to maintain contact with clients and workers. The response to the callout was impressive as numerous International Workers Association sections and other direct action-oriented workers groups in the UK and around the world took part.
At one picket in London there was brief interference from the police who demanded we remove the tape used to stick up our banner on the boarded up construction site where changes to Tottenham Court Road station are being made. They said it was to save us the hassle of tube workers complaining about property damage to their site! However, when the workers from the site, who had been watching us for some time, came up to us, it was to request a leaflet and even take a copy of our newspaper Catalyst. It was also heartening to hear words of support from other workers coming out of the building where the offices are located, even though they did not work for the temping agency, with several people commenting that they knew "who to come to" when they needed support at work.
That morning we heard the news that Office Angels had told Dan they would speak to him about getting him paid the wages he was owed, however once again Office Angels are delaying making the payment of the wages they owe. SF locals around the country were more than glad to offer more support. In Leeds, Northampton and Brighton Solidarity Federation locals held successful pickets in support of Dan and Office Angels staff, with support from the Anarchist Federation and the Industrial Workers’ of the World.
Dan has still not been paid, and so we are continuing to increase the pressure on Office Angels. This week – from the 9th to the 15th of May – we have called a national week of action against Office Angels and the Adecco company to which it is affiliated. On Wednesday 11th we are calling for another ‘communication blockade’ of Office Angels (details below). The response so far has been brilliant; in Brighton and Nottingham pickets have already been held. Further pickets are planned this week in Reading, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Oxford and Bristol, as well as more pickets in Brighton, Northampton and several around London (full details are listed below).
It is not too late to get involved with this campaign; if there’s a picket near you, come down and show solidarity! If there’s not, get together with a few like-minded people and head down to your nearest Office Angels and have your own picket!
We want to hear from any current or previous Office Angels employees that have come into conflict with this company and its culture of disrespect. We know that this is not an isolated incident and the more people get involved, the more pressure we can put on the company to start treating its workers properly.
Temporary workers face similar unacceptable conditions every day. They work without sick pay or maternity leave, are vulnerable to unfair and instant dismissals and have no union support. Rising unemployment and a bleak economic climate will force even more of us to accept these precarious conditions - yet another example of working class people being exploited by an economic system that only benefits the rich.
On top of the pickets that have already taken place this week, the following are still to come:
- Leeds on Wednesday, 16.00pm to 17.30pm
- London Bridge, London on Wednesday, 10.00am
- Croydon, London (Wellesley Road) on Wednesday, 13.00pm
- Oxford Street, London on Wednesday, 12.00pm.
- Reading on Wednesday and Thursday, email tvsf [ @ ] riseup.net for more details.
- Oxford on Thursday, 13.15pm to at least 16.00pm:
- Bristol on Thursday, 11.00am to 13.00pm
- Liverpool on Friday at 1.30am
- Newcastle on Friday, 15.00pm to 18.00pm
- Brighton Solidarity Federation may be picketing again this Friday
email brightonsolfed [@] googlemail.com to find out more.
- Northampton Solidarity Federation will also be picketing Office Angels again this week
If you can’t make a physical picket, you can still show solidarity! We are calling for people to bombard Office Angels with phone calls and e-mails all day on Wednesday 11th, please show support and take action!
Email sending tool: http://www.priamaakcia.sk/index.php?action=soliMail&soliMail_id=16&lan=en
Phone: 020 8542 6688 (international calls dial +4420 8542 6688)
E-mail addresses to target:
Dear Sir or Madam,
Hereby I would like to express my dissatisfaction with the treatment of one of your workers, who has been declined the payout of his wage for two days of work.
I find this behaviour unacceptable and demand that you pay what you owe immediately. Until then I will continue to inform people about your shameful practices.