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Working in the Cafe and Bar Culture

From Jeremy Godden

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

There has been much talk about the marvellous (or otherwise) cafe and bar culture in Hebden Bridge and indeed further up the Calder Valley. 

One side of this that hasn't been mentioned is the people who work in them. Most of them are young adults starting out in life. As a parent I hear about the working conditions my offspring and their friends have experienced.  It is a very mixed bunch from supportive employers to exploitative zero hours contracts where pay is unpredictable and working rights are ignored. The outlets survive on a ready supply of replacement labour when people leave.

This is the unpleasant  but real face of our happy inclusive socialist friendly valley. No doubt this reflects the wider service based world we now live in. Quite what we do about this I am not sure. Naming and shaming would probably be open to abuse. Hardly anybody is in a Union now unfortunately. I am thinking of a local kite mark or some such for employers who respect basic workers rights. (Things like proper  written contracts, itemised payslips, clear holiday pay entitlements, pay that arrives on time.)

Has any one got any ideas?

From Marco Nizzardo

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Interesting post Jeremy. I wish there could be more answers to your stimulating thoughts on an issue that is quite important in Hebden Bridge.

Our small cafe' has always put in front the wellbeing of our staff (it pays in terms of enthusiasm and hard work). The only regret I have is that I don't see many young people who actually want to build a career in hospitality and catering and often approach the job in an unprofessional way.

When someone comes at the cafe and as ks for a job, I always ask them what they want to do ''when the grow up''. Google analyst, journalists, engineers, musicians etc. Not a single one that says they want to learn how to cook or run a food business. Nevertheless, I would really like to hear what these young cafe workers have to say for themselves and other cafe owners' opinions. Ask your daughter and their friends to share their experience I'm sure they read Hebweb as well.

From Jeremy Godden

Friday, 12 January 2018

 I think Marco you point out a valid problem with British people's equivocal attitude to working in the hospitality trade. No doubt some young workers lack commitment to the work and this causes frustrating problems to people like yourself. 

However, my point was at a more basic level. Essentially, young workers (and everyone else) should have basic rights upheld. (Whether they are committed workers or not). Many businesses do this as I'm sure yours does but a minority don't. This includes failure to pay wages, failure to produce proper employment contracts and regular payslips and also to organise holiday pay.

From Pete Keal, Secretary, Calderdale Trades Council

Monday, 15 January 2018

Thanks for raising this issue, Jeremy, and highlighting the position of workers in our cafes and bars.

As you point out, they should be treated with dignity and respect at work and basic employment rights should be upheld.

More than 5.5 million people are members of trades unions and participating in a trade union remains the best way for workers to press for better pay and conditions. 

Calderdale Trades Council’s Sick of Being Skint? campaign calls for all workers to be paid £10 per hour and urges working people to join a trade union. A digital version of the campaign postcard  can be downloaded here

Working with unions such as the Bakers’ Union BFAWU, we have taken the campaign to over 60 workplaces in Calderdale including some in Hebden Bridge. Last September, the BFAWU organised the first ever strikes in McDonald’s outlets in the UK and the company has offered substantial pay increases after pressure from the #mcstrike campaign. See McStrike

To find out more about trades union membership, either text: 07728 450951,  e-mail, or tweet to @calderdaletuc. We would be happy to discuss the problems workers are having or arrange for them to meet an organiser from an appropriate union.

Please keep this discussion general and avoid naming specific businesses - Ed