Victories for Notts CampaignsTagged as: care hayward_house health local_communities office_angels save_hayward_house_daycare work
Neighbourhoods: hayward_house nottingham uk
Last week saw two victories for local campaigns. Firstly, Hayward House Daycare has been saved from closure. Camapigners have welcomed the announcement, but remain wary. Meanwhile, Office Angels who have been the target of protests across the country (including in Nottingham) for refusing to pay a temporary worker, have now backed down.
Hayward House provides daycare services to patients with cancer. It emerged in April that the service was to close on September 1st. In fact referrals had been stopped as of April 1st. Patients, volunteers and staff were horrified by the news and a campaign to save the daycare service sprung up very quickly.
Hayward House campaigners reported on Saturday, that they had been informed daycare is not closing “and that patients have been given letters of apology from the NHS.” However details remain hazy. Campaigners don’t yet "know if/when referrals will recommence or whether there will be any substantial changes."
There is some concern "that patients with other life-limiting illnesses will in future be referred to Hayward House too, to be treated by experts in palliative care for cancer patients". This would be consistent with a general shift to "generic" services across the public sector as cuts begin to bite, but without an increase of funding (of which there is no suggestion) this could serve to reduce the number of cancer patients receiving treatment at Hayward House.
Campaigners are described as “relieved, but still wary. And angry.” The campaign is not stopping, with a public meeting held on Monday evening at Carlton Fire Station. They urge anybody with petitions to send them in to strengthen the campaign’s hand with future negotiations.
The campaign against Office Angels began in March when Dan contacted the South London branch of the Solidarity Federation (SolFed). He had worked for Office Angels for three days in December last year. When he began work he wasn’t given a time sheet. DAn queried this, but was told not to worry. On the third day, he received a phone call from Office Angels at his workplace to check up on him. Despite all this, when Dan went to collect his wages Office Angels claimed that he had only worked one day, not three. After phone calls and polite meetings failed, Dan began a thread on online forum LibCom asking for assistance. At this point Office Angels had the nerve to harass him for his online comments, so Dan turned to SolFed.
SolFed began by sending a delegation to the Wimbledon branch where Dan had been employed. This only response to this was Dan being banned from all Office Angels premises. This was then followed up by a picket outside the busy Oxford Street branch. SolFed members went in and spoke to management demanding that Dan be paid and informing them that actions would continue until Dan received his full wages.
The morning before the first public picket, Office Angels contacted Dan, telling him, “this has gone on long enough” and insisting that he would "definitely" get paid. He was promised a manager would contact him by noon with details. When that didn’t happen and perceiving this promise for the stalling tactic it was, SolFed decided to go ahead with the picket and a “communication blockade”. When Dan called up Office Angels later that night, he was told things were being held up in the legal department.
Sensing Office Angels were faltering, SolFed issued a call-out for a national week of action from 9th-15th May. This was taken up by groups across the country. In Nottingham, the local branch of the Anarchist Federation organised a small picket outside the company’s offices on Cheapside. There were also numerous pickets in London, three in Northampton, two pickets in Reading, another two in Brighton, and pickets in Oxford, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Bristol, and Liverpool.
SolFed also began plans for an international week of action against Adecco, the company which owns Office Angels and is also the largest recruitment agency in the world. This would prove unnecessary. On the second day of the Week of Action, Dan was contacted by Office Angels. They claimed to have discovered documentation confirming he had worked 2 days and offered to pay him for them, an offer he declined. As a result, Wednesday’s communications blockade went ahead.
On the morning of Wednesday 11th May, Office Angels again contacted Dan, offering to pay him for the full three days if he was prepared to go to court for the company if they had to go to court to retrieve money from their client, Kinetic. UK law requires that agencies pay their employees regardless of whether they’ve been paid by their clients and Dan rejected this offer and that night they finally offered to pay him. Not wanting to take Office Angels at their word, pickets continued on Thursday, but by Friday the money was in Dan’s account.
Dan offered "a massive thank you to London Solidarity Federation particularly, and everyone else who picketed, emailed and rung. Was actually touched by everyone’s support." In their summary of the campaign, SolFed conclude "direct action works. We achieved what we achieved without lawyers, courts, industrial tribunals, or even union reps. And we won. We planned and strategised and, despite some inevitable hiccups, we orchestrated an escalating campaign against the largest employment agency in the world. We didn’t even play all the cards in our hands and we still forced Office Angel to pay up out of pocket mid-way through our National Week of Action. After all, they still haven’t been paid by their client. In the process we strengthened our class confidence. Everything from giving demand letters to managers to speaking to the public to co-ordinating activities, we’re better at that now than we were three months ago."