workplace organising

Winning Together - Collective Identity and Workplace Action

A member of the SolFed Tech & Digital workers network recounts the building of a collective identity in their workplace, pushing a collective grievance and building on workplace victories.



I was sat at home during the christmas holidays when I recieved an email from my line manager from work. The email said that me and all of the my fellow workers in the department were to get a significant payrise, backdated to November. 'Congratulations!' said the email.

I was overjoyed. Not just because of the extra money, but because I knew full well it hadn't been given to us by the company out of the goodness of our executives' hearts, but due to a long term campaign of collective action and pressure from all of the workers in my department.

EWN Workplace Organiser Training Day - 17. November

 

SolFed's Education Workers’ Network will host our first workplace organiser training on Saturday, 17th November 2012, 10am-6pm; at SOAS, London (1st floor, Brunei Gallery building, opposite the main SOAS building entrance).

This will be a day of training sessions & discussions on workplace issues for workers in educational organisations regardless of job, role and whether unionised or not. It is addressed at anyone who wants to:

build a network with fellow education workers;
learn to take on management and organise workplace struggle;
share ideas & experiences on building solidarity and confidence in the workplace.

Programme includes basic workplace organiser training & workshops on:

T&P 1: Workmates: direct action workplace organising on the London Underground

In the late 1990s, plans to outsource track maintenance on the London Underground were being pushed through by the government. Workers at one depot responded by forming a new workplace group, both inside and outside the existing union, the RMT. This pamphlet charts the highs and lows of the Workmates collective, highlighting their successes and failures, their radically democratic organising method and their creative forms of direct action. We hope it can provide an inspiration to other workers frustrated with the limits of the existing workplace organisations.

A copy of the pamphlet costs £2 including postage and packaging (to UK, please get in touch for international or bulk orders).

Report from Solidarity Federation's Workplace Organiser Training

In the face of the media storm over the protest on March 26, it’s important for all of us involved in fighting austerity to take a step back, whether we think the occupations and property destruction were useful or not. Ultimately, whatever their worth, it’s not through riots or occupations that we can defeat austerity. Only by causing economic disruption, and making it more expensive to carry through with the cuts than to make us concessions, will we win. And where we have the most power over the economy is in the workplace. It’s our work that makes up society and if we withdraw it by striking, or take other forms of direct action such as go-slows or work-to-rule’s, we – the working class – can call the shots and stop this attack on our class!

Problems at work No.1: Can the boss keep ignoring us?

I work in a textile factory that employs around 30 workers. We have complained to management about low temperatures, the lack of heating and poor ventilation but they ignore us and have threatened to victimise some workers. Some of us are members of a union, but there is no recognition. What are our options?

Whether you are in a recognised union or not, the first step for dealing with a health and safety issue is to establish what the problem is and how it is affecting workers. The best way to do this is for as many workers as possible to meet together to talk about the problems. The boss may immediately try and victimise any workers involved. Decide what, where and how to meet to get organised. Consider what contact you want with the union, if any.

Problems at work No.5: 1st steps - Organising at Work What's the point in organising, what rights have we got?

Workers' rights are indeed in a sorry state, but this only underlines the need to organise on the job, in our own workplaces. What rights we do have, mainly in the area of health and safety, aren't properly enforced, so it's clear that the state has little interest in our welfare over and above the level necessary to keep the economy's cogs turning. Many situations at work fall outside the law and so it is down to workers themselves to ‘negotiate'. Often, this is done only in staff meetings where the agenda is controlled by the bosses, or where workers can only voice concerns individually. Clearly this is far from ideal. The employer retains absolute control as no effective threat is posed. Only by organising can workers force their boss to sit up and pay attention.

But how can we organise? There isn't a union in my workplace.

On the Tube From grass roots unionism to workers' control

On 13th February , at a meeting of the Workmates Collective, a Tube Workers body at a west London Depot, a proposal was carried unanimously by the 150 or so attending to set up a council consisting of a delegate from each gang. Up until then, the collective had been organised by a handful of RMT workplace reps; now, organisation has passed to the newly formed Workmates Council of recallable gang delegates, moving toward a libertarian formation (anarcho-syndicalism) instead.

Workmates history

Coming from various engineering departments on the Underground (including track installers, track welders, crossing makers, carpenters, ultrasonic rail testers, track vent cleaning gangs, and lorry drivers), many people work alongside large numbers of barely unionised subcontracted labour.

Health and Safety at Work - An Anarcho-syndicalist approach

This pamphlet is based on a course organised by North & East London Solidarity Federation called "Organising for Health and Safety" back in 1997. Part 1 introduces the idea of health, safety and welfare standards at work, and places them in the context of capitalism. Part 2 suggests ways of finding out about and taking up health and safety issues. Part 3 details some common problems and definitions, and Part 4 provides a case study from the Norwich and Norfolk Solidarity Federation, and introduces the idea of union support surgeries. Part 5 compares and contrasts modern trade unionism with anarcho-syndicalism as advocated by the Solidarity Federation, and argues for social revolution. Finally, there are appendices on tactics, basic rights and information of practical use.