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20 June 2012
Pub tenants are directed workers under EU legislation with the right to join unions and to ballot for industrial action but persuading the tied tenants imbued with an independent “yeoman” spirit to take this step has to date not been successful but it should not be ruled out GMB Congress told.
A motion committing the union to continue supporting the fight of tied tenants for fair rents was carried by the GMB Commercial Services Section Conference and was endorsed by GMB Congress last week in Brighton.
GMB Congress comprising of 500 lay member delegates met last week in Brighton Conference Centre King's Road Brighton from Sunday 10th to Thursday 14th June. These delegates were elected to attend the GMB Congress to represent over 620,000 members in every part of the UK and Ireland and from every sector of the economy. Congress is the supreme policy making body in the union. One of the elected delegates was Dave Mountford a tied tenant from the Rising Sun in Middleton in Derbyshire. Also attending were 300 visitors and guests drawn mainly from GMB organized workplaces around the UK and Ireland.
The motion which was carried is from the GMB Buxton Branch. It was moved and seconded by delegates from Midlands and East Coast Region. It committed the GMB “to continue to support tied Licencees in their fight against the injustices forced upon them by pubcos.”
Natalie Newby, GMB delegate from Corby moving the motion summarized the problem facing GMB tied tenants in the sector. She said
'Beer sales in the "on trade" have fallen off a cliff – down 38.9% from peak levels in 2003 - as pubs are priced out of the market and drinkers desert pubs in droves especially in working class areas as we all know. A pint sells to customers for a £1 more than justified by inflation and changes in taxes as a result of sky high rents. Pubs have closed and will continue to close with the tenants facing financial ruin.
So the core economic problem facing GMB members is that the private equity inspired property companies that own large chunks of the pub estate charge these sky high rents to pay interest to offshore bondholders. But they have done absolutely nothing to address the core problem to end this loss of market share.
The regulatory authorities have done nothing to save tied tenants from this market abuse by these property companies that own pubs. The Government has done nothing either. Pub tenants are bitter at this inaction and I don't blame them. Their sole support in this very difficult economic position is GMB and this support must continue.
Pub tenants are directed workers under EU legislation and as such they do have the right to join unions and to ballot for industrial action. Persuading the tied tenants imbued with an independent “yeoman” spirit to take this step has to date not been successful but this Conference should not rule it out.'
Reports that a debt for equity swap may be on the cards at Punch, if true, is at long last a step in the right direction for 5,000 pubs and 5,000 tied pub tenants if the debt equity swap is done properly.
The only real solution is to convert the debt to equity. For a thriving pub sector we need pub companies charging open market rents to tenants who can compete on price in buildings refurbished to a high standard and where customer service and care is the top priority. That way there will be a decent income for all the stakeholders.
Unwinding the madness of the private equity vast debts model, which has blighted the likes of Southern Cross, Four Seasons and AA and the pubcos, is essential.”
Carole Clarkson a GMB delegate from Hull seconding the motion said
'I want to highlight the case of Anjelique Elliot, a nurse from Corby, whose appalling story of intimidation from her landlord Enterprise Inns was discussed during the last Department for Business Innovation and Skills Enquiry.
Whilst her husband was fighting in Afghanistan, Anjelique was pushed to near bankruptcy in what the MP Brian Binley described as a clear case of Enterprises ability to misrepresent the turnover and costs of running their pubs. She was invited to speak at the All-Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group rally in November last year, reducing many to tears with her description of the "nightmare" of being an Enterprise tied tenant. GMB cannot walk away from a fight for justice for these pub tenants.'