PICTURES show a rally taking place outside a city pub following a dispute over contracts and pay.

Staff at the Saint James Tavern in Kemp Town are demanding an end to zero-hours contracts, a minimum pay increase to £11.50 and a full sick pay scheme.

Bar manager Jake Marvin said he and his co-workers at the pub in Madeira Place are striking for “the basic right to respect in the workplace”.

“We as workers have felt consistently undermined, the physical and emotional welfare of the staff as a whole feels entirely neglected,” he said.

However, Victoria Ann Bennett and Zak Abedi, leaseholders of Saint James Tavern, say all bar staff are paid at least £9.50 per hour, with the assistant manager and manager on annual salaries.

“We’re not breaking any laws here,” they said.

“All staff receive their holiday pay and sick pay. We have even paid some staff in advance when they are going on holiday or need money earlier as they are waiting for their student loans.”

Those on strike say they have “had enough of low wages” and are calling for a sick pay scheme which includes cover for Covid-19-related absences, rather than the basic Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

They also want a security response team on site at all times and voluntary recognition of United Voices of the World (UVW) as their trade union.  

Bartender Tris Houseman said: “Feeling undervalued and disrespected by people you are generating money for, money that is barely seen by us, feels so humiliating and degrading on such a personal level.

“For me and my friends and fellow workers at St James Tavern, for the bare minimum conditions and respect at work, that is why I am striking.”