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Sheffield's trade unions seek community organiser for low-paid and precarious workers

Applications are open now for an organiser role with the pioneering Sheffield Needs A Pay Rise project.

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Activists with Sheffield Needs A Pay Rise campaigning outside Papa John's on Ecclesall Road.

Sheffield Needs A Pay Rise.

Applications have opened for a unique job role that aims to organise Sheffield's low-paid and precarious workers, with a particular focus on the fast food sector.

Sheffield Needs A Pay Rise (SNAP) was initiated by the Sheffield Trades Council and the BFAWU union in 2015, and represents a new method of trade union organising outside the traditional workplace.

As well as Sheffield, which has been dubbed the 'low pay capital of the UK', the project are also looking for new organisers in Leeds and Rotherham. The salary is £12 per hour, and applications close on 14 November.

"SNAP is a pioneering initiative to empower workers by driving up pay and securing better contracts and working conditions in the hospitality sector – the sector where young people are most likely to find work," Bob Jeffrey of Sheffield Trades Council told Now Then.

"We achieve this in partnership with the Bakers Union, by giving people the tools they need to organise themselves, while building support among the wider community for the principles of decent work."

In 2019 with the support of John McDonnell MP, BFAWU launched Fast Food Rights which seeks to unionise workers in a traditionally non-unionised sector.

This has led to the UK's first so-called 'McStrikes', which saw McDonald's staff walk out and win their biggest pay rise in ten years.

A report published by SNAP last year in collaboration with three universities found that "low pay and insecure work, involving in many cases the denial of employment rights and justice, is on the increase in Sheffield."

Trade unionists believe the more proactive model of the SNAP campaign could reverse these trends in South Yorkshire, and point to a number of victories since the project started.

"In the last couple of years we’ve achieved an enormous amount, whether that’s been getting access to better staffroom facilities, keeping workers safe during Covid, or winning tens of thousands of pounds in unpaid wages," said Jeffrey.

“We are now looking for new organisers, who have the people skills to reach out to workers, and who will be supported by the Fast Food Rights campaign to empower workers across Sheffield."

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