Category Archives: Fair Work

Researching ‘fair work’ at stadium:mk

On the night of freezing 29th January, a small team of Citizens:mk leaders ventured to Stadium:mk, the home of MK Dons FC, for their game against Oldham Athletic.

The purpose of this research action was to find out from workers at Stadium:mk, including both security and catering staff, how they perceived their experiences of working there.

The action began at IKEA nearby, where workers there were asked about their experiences of working at IKEA. Three staff members were approached and all three said they were happy working for IKEA, highlighting the benefits of permanent contracts, flexible hours and progression opportunities. They felt cared for by the management team.

At Stadium:mk, seven workers were asked, and the responses were more mixed. Most felt loyal to the club, but raised a range of including free parking facilities and promotion opportunities, both of which seemed very limited. One security supervisor had been in role for seven years with no pay increase or progression.

One young security attendant was wearing just a fluorescent bib over her own clothes said the flourescent coats had run out. Others said that the 50p subsidy on hot drinks (sale price £2.20) was too low.

This first ‘Fair Work’ research action was deemed successful in terms testing the questions which can now be used in similar research actions with workers from other companies in MK.

Fortunately, because it was really cold, Dons won 2-1, though it was a bit of a scrape!

Leaders Forum launches research teams

Citizens:mk’s annual Leaders Forum, this year hosted by St. Paul’s Catholic School, attracted 40 people including leaders from 16 member institutions and some external guests.  Each member institution presented one or two priority social problems arising from their listening campaigns, powerful testimonies were heard and the following research teams (with named leaders and institutions) pledged to work over the winter months with the goal of reporting to Delegates Assembly on 5th February:

  • Cycle Safety – Craig Broadbent, Deborah Cooper and Phil Ashbourne of Green Alliance, Leo Nicholas of St. Paul’s Catholic School; The Open University.
  • Fair Deal/Work – Hala Afify and Linda McComie of Truby’s Garden Tea Room, William Appaih of St. Augustine’s Catholic Church; Middle East Cultural Group.
  • Housing & Homelessness – Lawrence Morgan and Carol Barac of Green Alliance, Ayser Al jawad of Middle East Cultural Group.
  • Mental Health – Saira Sajid of MK Academy; Gabi and Tom Navin of St. Paul’s Catholic School, William Appaih of St. Augustine’s Catholic Church.
  • Police at Primary Level – Tony Berwick of Jubilee Wood Primary School, Kate Matthews of Southwood Primary School; St. Paul’s Catholic School.
  • Refugees Welcome Schools – Elysia Roach of St. Paul’s Catholic School, Craig Warne of NASUWT, Susie Hancock of The Open University.
  • Youth for Elderly – Richard Lyons of St. Frideswide’s Church, Sofia Hassan of Middle East Cultural Group, Rachel Redford of The Open University.

The goal of each team is to create SMART campaign goals to propose to the Delegates Assembly on 5th February 2019, where three campaigns will be selected for action with power holders at the Accountability Assembly on 25th April 2019.

Research team leaders were asked to contact Community Organiser Tom Bulman, tel 07962 838685,  asking him to attend their first research team meeting and deliver training to the team.

An alliance-wide training workshop has been arranged for Saturday 1st December 2018, 9.30am-1.30pm at St. Frideswide’s Church, where leaders from all teams/institutions will receive Action Research training from Tom and Jonathan Cox of Citizens UK.

In post-event evaluation, this internal action was scored 8/10.

Below are pictures from Leaders Forum 2018.

 

Hala’s testimony

Driving on the M1 to attend the 6-Day leadership training course organised by Citizens UK, I could not help but thinking how I got involved with this organisation and what am I going to benefit from this course.

Only six weeks before, I was working as an Arabic Language tutor with the Ministry of Defence (MOD), I loved my job and the rapport that I built with my students over the two and half years that I worked there was great. I was looking forward to the summer holidays, a time in which my family and I go back to Cairo to see our relatives. Then the bomb shell fell, I received a notice of termination of contract with immediate effect.

I was devastated, considering this decision came only after ten days from the renewal of my contract.

I realised that as a contractor I did not have any rights under zero-hour contracts, unlike employees who could go to a tribunal for unfair dismissal, nor did I have the right to appeal. I was, in every sense of the word, stuck and the overwhelming feeling of injustice and shock engulfed me to the point of despair.

Then I bumped into a dear friend of mine, Kurshida Mirza, at the door step of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau in Milton Keynes. I told her about my ordeal and she suggested that I speak to the community organiser of Citizens:mk, Tom Bulman. Tom and I met and he mentioned the 6-Day training course.

Driving back home after finishing the course, my head was full of ideas, plans, questions, answers, good memories, but above all, a sense of relief due to the skills I acquired during the course.

On the first day of training, we were engaged in the most interesting yet provocative role play; The Athenian/Melian Dialogue. At the beginning of the task, I had so many detestable stereotypical views about power holders, and very favourable opinions about ordinary people whose only power is to take the moral high-ground. To my utter surprise, at the end of the task I appreciated the Athenians, the power holders, and wanted to emulate their tactics and vision. The lesson I learnt is that power is good and it is a force to be embraced, not shunned. Relational power is the ultimate power to be sought and this can be achieved by conducting 121s, establishing self- interest, acquiring leadership role, and actively building core teams to serve the goal of the group or the campaign.

The other crucial concept is that of bringing about change to achieve social justice. The experience I had with the termination of my contract left me feeling isolated and helpless. However, when I started thinking that I would not want anyone to feel what I felt, I realised that the change I am seeking is not only to benefit myself but every contractor who may experience such treatment under the terms of such contracts, and this emboldened me with a sense of purpose.

I went to a course in leadership, however there is no real leader without followers; followers who share the vision, feel the same pain, are power hungry in the wider sense of the word.
So, I need to hear from people who have been in the same unfortunate position, people whose contracts have been terminated abruptly, people who want to see changes in the terms of self-employment and zero-hour contracts, people who want to follow me in my campaign against these contracts.