Saramago cafe: reinstate sacked workers!

The Scottish Socialist Party has sent its solidarity to Saramago Cafe workers that have been sacked for engaging in trade union organising.

Workers have been fighting for increased staffing on rotas, after previous victories in working conditions and over midweek late-night taxi cover.

Saramago Cafe is located within Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA). The workers and their trade union, Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), were joined yesterday at two protest actions outside the CCA by the SSP, striking UCU and UNISON members from Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities and the Glasgow School of Art, and members of CWU, RMT, Unite, and USDAW trade unions.

Further protests against the unjust Saramago Cafe sackings are planned. The IWW, the SSP, and other trade unionists are demanding immediate reinstatement of the Saramago Cafe workers.

SSP National Workplace Organiser Richie Venton was at yesterday’s protest action and said:

“Union-busting is disgusting – solidarity can beat the bosses!

“Three young workers were sacked on Friday by the allegedly trendy, liberal-lefty Saramago Café, which operates inside Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts – which itself is a popular venue for meetings of the left, and recently screened films on the importance of trade unionism!”

A young protester holds a sign reading "Saramago soup of the day: exploitation, emotional manipulation, 'good vibes'"

“They were fired for daring to be in a union – the IWW – and for demanding restoration of staffing levels after cutbacks led to horrendous overwork and stress.

“Union members had previously won improvements in working conditions, including week-night taxi cover for staff safety after their shifts, and wage increases.

“Two weeks ago, union members staged a half-hour walk-out in pursuit of their call for increased staffing on rotas, and won massive support from customers.

“Now the Saramago union-busters have sacked three of them – and indeed had planned more sackings, but were forced to hesitate after all staff walked out!

“Today, Tuesday 21st March, a huge protest demo outside the CCA was staged, with UCU and UNISON strikers joining the demo, after marching from their pickets at Glasgow School of Art, Strathclyde and Glasgow universities. Members of the RMT, CWU, USDAW and UNITE were there. The SSP were proud to show their solidarity.”

Protestors gather with flags and banners outside the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, home to Saramago Cafe.

“One of the sacked trade unionists spoke movingly of how she felt humiliated as well as stressed when bosses took her away to sack her, in front of customers.

“Young people who are courageously standing up for their rights at work were joined by workers, students and socialists of all generations. Drivers of cars, vans, lorries and fire engines tooted their solidarity.

“As a victimised and sacked workplace union convener myself, I was proud to be invited by the IWW organisers to speak at their demo.

“I conveyed the message that victimised workers can win by taking united action, seeking wider workers’ solidarity, demonstrating and embarrassing the bosses by publicising their rotten methods – as happened with even a giant, multi-billioned multi-national in my case.

“This café is named after novelist and former Portugese Communist Party member, Jose Saramago. It might make them feel radical, but they know nothing about solidarity or collectivism, let alone socialism. Stand firm, demand immediate re-instatement, and beat the union-busters through workers’ solidarity.

“Further protests are planned, and we will help bludgeon the bosses of Saramago into reinstating the Saramago 3 by exposing their methods far and wide.”

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