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IWW Clydeside and the former Saramago Workers Union stand in full solidarity with the Unite the Union Hospitality workers in the 13th Note. In a statement from a former Saramago Worker and IWW member:

“The brave struggle and willingness of the 13th Note Workers to get organised and take action has been truly inspiring. The workers have absolutely done the right thing here, they organised and are fighting on behalf of all unorganised hospitality workers. The callous treatment from the bosses is shocking to see but comes as no surprise.  When this is how the bosses respond to basic requests for safe and fair working conditions we have no choice but to get organised, stand together and take action. We hope that these disputes will be just the beginning of a new wave of militant hospitality organising in Glasgow.”

It’s a sad day when instead of celebrating the successes of a campaign inside a workplace to bring about better conditions we’re instead met with a cynical and heartless announcement that the company will close because the boss decided to walk away from the negotiations. We know this pain, as do countless thousands who are also victimised and abused by their bosses. In the motto of our union of An Injury to One is and Injury to All we stand side-by-side with the Unite workers at the 13th Note.

It marks the beginning of a pattern in Glasgow, one that the bosses have clearly decided is an appropriate response to workers demanding better conditions: escalate to closure, salt-the-earth approach and absorb the losses through their hoarded wealth. These cynical tactics, like those of the Saramago bosses, are the actions of bosses too afraid to confront and handle the power and symbol of organised workers.

What it shows is that whatever kinds of actions workers take, be it direct action, organising a union ballot and/or political pressure or asking nicely the bosses have only two things on their minds: profit and crush anything that stands their way of making profits.

The 13th Note and Saramago were profitable businesses, they had survived the pandemic through their loyal customer base and received benefits from the state and parent organisations. Saramago got bailed out by the government during the pandemic and received a plethora of sweetheart deal benefits from its corporate landlord. But when it came to the workers there asking for some of the wealth they created to be returned into their hands the bosses threw up walls and went on the offensive, willing to sacrifice half or a third of their business portfolio rather than meet their worker’s demands. The same story happened at 13th Note, the business was profitable but the boss couldn’t stand being told what to do by her workers.

Their offensive against the workers were myriad: They claimed that they couldn’t afford to pay their workers a survivable wage (yet were raking it in for themselves) and like the sword of Damocles that Glasgow’s culture would suffer with a lack of venues if the workers were to demand better (a cultural capital built on the exploitation of poor workers isn’t that cultural right?), that workers had demanded too much at a time when the market was bad (again, they were pulling in profits to fund the owners lavish lifestyle).

When it comes down to it these are thinly veiled threats to remind workers: Don’t organise or you’ll face the consequences.

We say to workers everywhere, fight harder! Organise harder!

While this shows that bosses will sink to even lower levels of heartlessness, it reminds us all what and why we’re fighting against the exploitation of all workers and that in the hospitality industry no quarters can or should be given.

The owner of the 13th Note currently owns two other business in Glasgow, the Leftbank and the Bungo.

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In solidarity forever,
IWW Clydeside branch