The dispute in the referencing department of East London property services company Goodlord has entered a new phase after the firm sacked strikers in their 13th week of industrial action. James B, assistant branch secretary of Unite’s London Digital & Tech branch writes in a personal capacity.
On continuous and indefinite strike since 22 February over a cut in salary to less than the London Living Wage, the strikers, who are members of Unite’s London Digital & Tech branch, re-balloted on 26 April and voted overwhelmingly to continue their action. This ballot cited new issues including the dismissal of strikers whose fixed term contracts ended whilst on strike, the hostile environment strikers have been subjected to by the company and the use of agency workers to undermine the effectiveness of their action.
By firing the strikers on 19 May, Goodlord has ignored the protection against dismissal the law affords to strikers in the 12 weeks after a ballot. Therefore the strikers have an extremely strong case for claiming unfair dismissal, and Unite has pledged to support them in this.
As well as pursuing these through the Employment Tribunal system the union has said it will ‘consider all legal options‘ to bring Goodlord to account for its breach of hard-won trade union rights. By dismissing strikers at this stage Goodlord has attacked the labour movement as a whole.
Therefore it’s important over the next weeks to increase the pressure on the company through Unite’s Leverage department and other avenues. The fact that the dispute began over the issue of fire and rehire has garnered it wider publicity than strikes involving a small number of people usually receive, with mentions in The Guardian and the Mirror. Solidarity actions have included a motion of support from the Tower Hamlets branch of the London Renters Union and protests at estate agents by Socialist Students, as well as regular support from many trade unionists both on the picket line and on social media. Jeremy Corbyn spoke at the picket on 26 April at the launch of Unite’s #EndFireAndRehire campaign. The basis exists for a big pushback against the company’s callous attitude towards its employees and disregard for our trade union rights.
A demonstration has been called for 11am on Tuesday 25 May at Goodlord’s office on Heneage Street, London E1. Everyone is encouraged to publicise it and attend if you’re able to safely.
An interview with two of the strikers in which they explain how their dispute came about and how they built support in the workplace can be found here.
- Renters can sign the #BoycottGoodlord open letter
- Follow @unitelondonitc, @sobadlord and @goodlordstudent on social media for details of protests at Goodlord’s clients and investors
- Ask your union branch or organisation to donate to the strikers’ hardship fund: sort code 60-83-01, account number 20303680, name Unite LE/7098L London ITC Branch, reference Goodlord.