Bar staff at the well-known Brighton watering hole are balloting to down glasses on zero-hours low pay contracts — and potentially sue bosses over alleged harassment, sexism and transphobia.
The workers, who are organised with UVW, say they have been subjected to mistreatment for a long time, alongside poor working conditions. The situation was so dire that many felt compelled to quit their jobs and some of those remaining have second jobs due to low wages.
The young team say they have had enough amid what they claim are increasingly aggressive outbursts from the landlords.
Some of those being balloted are also taking their employers to tribunal over alleged harassment, including allegations of sexism, homophobia, transphobia, disability discrimination, as well as anti-Semitic comments.
The legal claim also says there has been a failure to implement statutory requirements, such as providing the workers with written contracts and paying them on a set date.
The workers are demanding an end to zero-hours contracts, minimum pay of £11.50 for all staff, no cuts to hours and a full sick pay scheme for all bar staff which includes Covid-19 cover, rather than the basic Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) they’ve endured during the pandemic. They also want improved security measures as well as voluntary recognition of the UVW as their union.
Bartender Tris Houseman said: “We as workers at St James’ Tavern have felt consistently undermined, the physical and emotional welfare of the staff as a whole feels entirely neglected.”
The tavern is is leased from Stonegate Group, the largest pub company in Britain, to the current owners St James Tavern Ltd. Stonegate has been contacted but they claim not to have the power to make changes and seem to be washing their hands of responsibility, UVW said.
Freedom has contacted St James and will update with any replies.
Pic: St James Tavern in 2014