A Glasgow bar has been accused of sacking workers for union organising

Demonstration outside Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA), by the IWW, over the sacking of workers at Saramago bar for union organising
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The radical union Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) has accused a Glasgow bar of union busting.

Saramago Bar, which is located inside Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) has reportedly sacked several IWW members.

Three workers were initially dismissed by Saramago. The union says they were fired for pressuring management to improve working conditions.

According to IWW:

The fired workers… were organising to increase the number of staff rota’d on in the kitchen and front of house to stop themselves being over-worked. A simple request for a business as popular as Saramago.

Supporters of the workers had written a petition to Saramago’s managers, backing up their demands.


Clydeside IWW demonstrated in support of the sacked workers on Tuesday 21 March. The group had support from the University and College Union (UCU) and Unite the Union‘s hospitality branch:

Read on...

Glasgow Short Film Festival has cancelled several events due to be held at the Saramago bar. The festival issued a statement saying that the cancellations were in solidarity with the workers. They also asked their customers not to buy refreshments from Saramago during the festival.

Earlier this week, the IWW said it was braced for further dismissals:

Fellow workers at Saramago and the IWW are concerned that these unjust, cruel, and downright cynical rafts of firings are just the beginning. Both staff and the union are bracing for more firings and mobilising to provide support to those who have already been summarily dismissed.

Sadly, their fears proved justified. On Thursday 23 March, the union announced that more workers had been sacked. That evening they held another protest in solidarity with those dismissed.

‘Accept precarity or starve’

IWW says that the dismissals at Saramago Bar are a result of backlash from the bosses. Workers at Saramago have successfully organised for better wages and conditions, and it seems like the management isn’t happy about it.

A union statement says that the bosses message is all too clear: “accept precarity or starve”.

Saramago has a reputation as a left-wing venue, but IWW argues that this shouldn’t give them a free pass to mistreat their workers:

We will not let Saramago hide behind its historic association with a liberal, left-wing crowd or its location in an arts venue that only a week ago screened films about the importance of trade-unionism. We call on all union members and workers in hospitality to show solidarity with the fired workers by joining us on the support pickets which will soon be organised

The Canary tried to call Saramago for a comment, but they didn’t answer the phone. We also contacted CCA on Thursday 23 March. It said:

CCA is aware of a demonstration scheduled for later today outside of our venue, relating to a staff dispute within Saramago Cafe Bar. Saramago is a business tenant within CCA, owned and managed separately from our organisation.

Fair working is an organisational priority for CCA, and we therefore express concern and are communicating directly with Saramago Cafe Bar, our programme partners and our own staff as developments unfold.

IWW is planning to demonstrate against Saramago again on Friday 24 March. The union is asking people to donate to a solidarity fund for the sacked workers, and to send messages of support via Clydeside IWW

Featured image via Clydeside IWW (with permission)

Get involved

  • IWW is a radical grassroots trade union that represents all types of workers across all workplaces. You can find out more about the union here.

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