Workers at Goodlord, a lettings platform used by landlords to reference potential tenants, have entered their 13th week of industrial action. They have been on indefinite and continuous strike since 22 February over ‘fire and rehire’ plans, which will cut pay by up to £6000 and bring many workers below the London Living Wage of £10.85 per hour.
Shortly after rejecting a derisory offer from management to take the pay cut, nine of the original twenty striking workers were sacked. Their union Unite has said it will ‘consider all legal options’ to overturn the dismissals. A solidarity protest took place outside the Goodlord offices in East London on Tuesday 25.
Goodlord workers are not facing this attack alone. Bosses across the country have used the pandemic as cover to attack the terms and conditions of workers. One example is the Go North West, a bus company running routes in Greater Manchester, which saw a continuous strike by bus workers successfully defeat fire and rehire.
Less than a month after the defeat of the British Gas strike, Goodlord workers are refusing to budge in their fight against fire and rehire. We spoke to Kathleen, one of the Goodlord strikers dismissed for taking industrial action, about the bosses, the unions and building power in the workplace.
Red Flag: To kick off, how did you find yourself on strike?
Kathleen: I was previously employed by Goodlord as a referencing executive. I found the job through two friends who currently worked there and said they really enjoyed it and the pay was good. I joined in January 2020.
We were told in November 2020 that there will be some changes made to the contracts. These changes included reduced hours, reduced pay and reduced benefits like sick leave and maternity leave. This led a group of us (80% of the department) to join a group chat to discuss what we can do. A union was mentioned and this is where it all began.
After more than three months on strike, management dismissed nine of the striking workers. How has this affected you and your workmates?
Being dismissed from Goodlord was a shock to some of us. A lot of strikers including myself were intending to go back to work and continue doing my job. I was good at my job and in a way I enjoyed it. It was stressful as well because we were not even given notice, it was immediate. Not to mention Goodlord had fired us illegally so we also wanted answers and justice. It was stressful but over time we realised we had left a toxic company and it was a slight relief in a way.
What can readers do to support you?
Through these tough thirteen weeks we have found the support of the public and other unions turning up at pickets to be a massive boost in morale. Retweet the @SoBadlord comments on Twitter to ensure the truth about Goodlord is surfaced, and avoid using Goodlord where possible!
The past months have seen actions across the country against fire and rehire tactics, with a recent victory at Go North West. What role do you see the strike playing within this larger struggle against fire and rehire?
Joining the fight against fire and rehire only raises the awareness and shows the public what can happen to anyone. I’m proud to be a part of the fight to stop companies doing whatever they want to employees. The ‘Badlord’ strike has helped people see it can happen to any company in any industry, whether it’s tech or real estate.
There have been lively pickets outside Goodlord offices, and the strike has received considerable solidarity from trade unionists, renters and students. How do you plan to grow this momentum?
I think the next stages are now to share our stories and spread the messages. Goodlord have always acted innocent and “like a family”, but this does not mean they care about you being able to afford your rent in London. Goodlord have only shown they have no interest in their workers wellbeing. This is the message I want everyone to know. The signs of a toxic work environment and the speed it can happen.
To support the Goodlord strikers:
- Follow and share @SoBadlord and @unitelondonitc
- Sign and share the petition from @GoodlordStudent
- Find out about pickets and donate to the strike fund: firstname.lastname@example.org
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