Better work conditions and an end to unpaid work at the Greedy Greek.
Staff at the Greedy Greek in Sheffield are now working in a significantly improved work environment thanks to a 6-week long Sheffield IWW campaign that saw widespread support from the local community. Whereas before the initiation of action against the shop, boss Dennis Mouzakis would routinely insult and abuse staff, he is now treating workers with basic dignity and respect. Furthermore, although Dennis is refusing to provide backpay for unpaid trials, he has now ended unpaid work and is paying staff for their full hours. This is a victory gained through coordinated direct action by the IWW union. Dennis has now even begun a monthly BBQ for his workers in an attempt to diffuse tensions and prevent the loss of further support.
We are however dissapointed with the complete lack of cooperation from Dennis, despite consistent communication with him from the union. Throughout the campaign, Dennis has issued threats to his staff and lied to them about IWW activity, attempting to present his exploitative business as one big, happy family. Dennis has called the police on us numerous times, misleading them and attempting to get the police to move our pickets on. His behaviour has ranged from bizarre dance displays to childish attempts to end the pickets through false offers of negotiation. Nevertheless, Dennis has failed to turn staff against the union, and has failed to force an end to IWW activity through police calls and misleading statements. Instead, we now have another workplace feeling the gains that are possible through collective action and workplace organising. Yet another abusive boss’ megalomania has been checked by workers coming together and pushing back for better conditions.
We’d like to stress that this is not the end for the Greedy Greek; the IWW is working to launch a city-wide hospitality and bar campaign, and will be looking to work with staff to improve working conditions across the sector. The UK hospitality industry is rife with un/underpaid work, zero-hour contracts, dangerous working conditions, abusive bosses and various other problems. Yet through campaigns such as this one, we can show that there is an alternative to simply accepting the poor working conditions and management abuse that are a daily reality at work. It is possible to organise and win real improvements in our working conditions in the here and now. The Greedy Greek campaign has been greatly appreciated by the local community, which has been overwhelmingly supportive. It is clear that the new unionism of the IWW is responding to deeply felt needs and resonating with a wide cross-section of our society. We celebrate the victory at the Greedy Greek and look forward to taking on more and larger campaigns in the struggle for economic democracy.