Saturday, 17 March 2012

Liverpool Solidarity Federation picket Liverpool John Lennon airport with Ryanair Don’t Care

Today, Saturday 17th March 2012, members of Liverpool Solidarity Federation accompanied John Foley in a picket at Liverpool John Lennon Airport in support of the Ryanair Don’t Care campaign.  The picket took place as part of an international week of action to try to both draw public attention to Ryanair Don’t Care, and to exert pressure on Ryanair and the businesses that facilitate and benefit from their recruitment scam.

Earlier in the week we had given out leaflets in Liverpool city centre to try to raise awareness of Ryanair’s policy of “recruitment for termination” for young probationary cabin crew and to also draw attention to the action today.  Yesterday we also paid a visit yesterday to two key parts of the Ryanair recruitment scam – Allied Irish Bank and Daniels Silverman solicitors, both with offices in Liverpool city centre.

Allied Irish Bank had, until recently, provided trainee cabin crew with 3500 Euro loans which were paid to Ryanair by trainee crew so Ryanair could provide training.  Following pressure from Ryanair Don’t Care, the bank stopped providing these loans in 2010.  However, they are still chasing terminated cabin crew for repayments, sending letters containing threats of bankruptcy.

Daniels Silverman solicitors are also chasing terminated cabin crew for loan repayments by sending demand letters threatening terminated cabin crew with bankruptcy, and we visited their offices to deliver a demand letter.  A video of this day is available for viewing on YouTube.

Today we met at Lime Street station and travelled on from there by bus to the airport.  Upon arriving we set up the picket next to one of several entrances to the building and began to hand out leaflets to passengers, visitors, and airport and airline staff.  We were approached at one point by a police inspector who relayed his intention to be a hands-off presence. Following this the police kept their distance, and eventually left the front of the building entirely.

We decided to expand the picket to cover as many entrances as possible, and individuals were dispatched to each door to catch entering and exiting punters and get the leaflets into as many hands as we could.  At one point we were approached by an individual who worked for Ryanair. The individual did not take a leaflet but let us know that she supported today’s action.  Many members of the public took leaflets and engaged us in conversation about the purpose of the picket. The message was certainly getting across.

Later, we were approached by a group of Spanish travellers coming through the airport.  These happened to be CNT members arriving for a holiday, and they spent some time with us on the picket, picking up information and taking leaflets.

Towards the end of the picket, an Irish hen party passing through the airport showed their support, taking a good amount of leaflets to hand out on their travels and taking the opportunity to get a photo with the famous John Foley!  A photograph was also taken in front of the Ryanair ticket desk with the Ryanair Don’t Care banner.  Hopefully the message got across there too.

It’s been quite a successful week for Ryanair Don’t Care in Liverpool during the international week of action.  Hundreds of leaflets have been handed out, getting the message into lots of heads.  People have been actively engaging with use throughout the week on the subject of Ryanair’s policy of “recruitment for termination” with respect to probationary cabin crew.  Direct action against companies involved in the scam has increased the pressure on them and placed the demands of the Ryanair Don’t Care campaign into the hands of the exploiters. An incidental point about this week being that it has also showed the power of direct action, with many people recognizing John and the campaign from recent actions he has undertaken.

The message is a shocking one for some, but doesn't seem to surprise most.  Ryanair, and the companies who help and benefit from their recruitment scam, must be exposed so that no more young people are duped into debt, depression and worse.  Pressure must be placed on these companies so that they are forced to seriously consider their place in this scam.   John Foley will not rest until Ryanair stop their exploitation of young people across Europe, and Liverpool Solidarity Federation will continue to support him – an injury to one is an injury to all.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Liverpool Solidarity Federation picket Pizza Hut

Today, members of Liverpool Solidarity Federation held a picket outside two branches of Pizza Hut in Liverpool City Centre. This was in solidarity with members of the Pizza Hut Workers’ Union (part of the IWW) in Sheffield who had called for a nationwide day of action against the company as part of their ongoing dispute with Pizza Hut management over pay, conditions and union recognition.

The demands are stated by the union membership as follows:

“In drivers conditions we are demanding regular updates of all moped drivers safety gear. We are also demanding an increase to deliver drivers per-delivery commission, which now stands at 60p, which clearly does not cover costs.
Over pay we are demanding pay increases in line with inflation, as currently our pay is seeing regular decreases. We also that we deserve time and a half for working Bank and National Holiday days. This is industry standard, we are not demanding the earth!
Lastly on the subject of Union Recognition, we believe it is only right as the workers that make the Pizza Hut company what it is we deserve to be talked to on an equal footing to management and have the right for our union to be recognised, giving us all stronger voice.”

We began outside the Pizza Hut in the Liverpool One shopping centre. We started handing out leaflets to passers-by and prospective Pizza Hut customers and were quickly approached by both private security and a PCSO. We were informed that the centre was private property and that we would need to seek permission to hold any demonstration or picket. We informed security of our purpose and questioned the requirement for permission while continuing to hand out leaflets. Eventually, more security arrived and we took the decision to move to the second site ahead of schedule.

On the way to the second site we came across a small group from Occupy Liverpool holding a demonstration outside a Vodafone store. They initially said they would join us at Pizza Hut but split off on the way and we didn’t see them again.

After our arrival at the second site, we distributed several hundred leaflets to members of the public (and some to staff) which laid out the reasons for the action and the demands mentioned above. Several members of the public approached us to ask about the picket. They were interested to know more about the action and the dispute and we were happy to pass on this information.

At one point during the afternoon we were approached by a clearly irate manager of the establishment who was claiming we were driving away customers and had caused her to send staff home as there was no longer any work for them to do. We saw no staff leaving the store while we were stood outside, and if this is policy at this particular store, it demonstrates the attitude of the management towards the staff there perfectly and shows why it is important that workers be in the position to be able to challenge such policies.

I've since read stories of Pizza Hut workers' shifts being altered without notice, promises of training not being delivered on and of the poor attitude of management to workers at Pizza Hut generally, which I believe further justifies action such as that taken up and down the country today. Hopefully the action today will have helped to make Pizza Hut workers around the country aware that they can organize and fight back against such treatment, as well as placing additional pressure on Pizza Hut management in this dispute and we offer our solidarity to the Pizza Hut Workers’ Union in their struggle.