On Saturday 7th November, Clydeside IWW members gathered on Great Western Road to draw attention to poor conditions for shopworkers in retail establishments in Glasgow.
The campaign started when employees at the Glasgow Vintage Company got organised following cuts to hours, poor hygiene, and lack of job security at their workplace following the COVID-19 outbreak in March.
After attempts at constructive dialogue with bosses to improve conditions, several workers had to leave to pursue more secure jobs and one staff member of almost two years was fired. At least one other worker has been fired since after challenging the bosses about broken promises regarding pay and hours.
Great Western Road is a busy pedestrian area so by taking to the street at peak time for shoppers, we were able to reach many members of the public, handing out flyers and talking to people who have experienced similar problems in their own workplaces. Prospective customers were deterred by the picket from entering the Glasgow Vintage Company. Passersby seemed excited to see a union taking direct action against bosses, many saying they had not heard of the IWW until now.
As one of the workers who was sacked by the vintage shop, I was really heartened to receive so much support from the union and from people on the street during the demo. As ‘buy local, buy small, buy independent’ rhetoric pervades liberal media and social media, it is important that we recognise how businesses of all sizes have the power to exploit workers if left unchecked.
In the run-up to the holiday season during another major virus outbreak, shopworkers and all workers will be facing difficult conditions at work and difficult decisions about what to risk for their livelihood. We must stand in solidarity and spread the word that the union is here for those who need it.
Let’s let the bosses know loudly and repeatedly that exploitative behaviour is unacceptable. An injury to one is an injury to all!
This post was written by a fellow worker, and does not necessarily represent the views of the IWW