N30 will undoubtedly prove to be the biggest strike in the UK since the 1926 general strike and it is an important step in preventing the austerity visited on people and communities across the country. Those workers officially involved are looking at pension cuts that are effectively huge pay decreases at a time when pockets are tight already. It is vital as it is that these workers are defended however this is not just about pensions. Rather it has potencial as a general mass refusal to allow things to continue in their current direction. Strikes stop work and stopping work stops everything.
There is undeniable power to a strike; they have given the 99% massive wins across the globe, recently in Egypt mass strike action, along with the protests at Tahrir, was vital to bringing down Mubarak.
However work looks very different today to how it did in 1926. We work in increasingly fractionalised workplaces, often employed by many different companies. We are find ourselves increasingly precariously positioned, many are now forced to work for free as interns just so they can get ‘on the employment ladder’ others work for agencies, constantly having to prove themselves in order to get the next job. Increasingly our job stays with us, we are still thinking about it, working away at home, in bed, while eating, even when we are on strike. Even for those in Unionised workplaces, union law impinges our ability to act. Further to this, how do we consider the unpaid and underappreciated house work overwhelmingly done by women, increasing in addition to employment in relation to ‘work’ and ‘stirke’? What about the unemployed?
All these questions and ideas feed into the 2 sessions we will be having on Saturday addressing first ‘What is Work?’(2.30-4.00) which will lead into ‘What does it mean to Strike? (4.00-5.30).
In the second session we will also look at the history of strike action and how we can reimagine the strike in order for it to become an even more effective tool for social change in the contemporary world. Asking: ‘How can we make it into more than a mere defensive strategy?’, ‘What can we create in the time, energy and space freed up by strike action?’ and more.
We hope this will inspire people to support and join the strike on November 30th and consider new forms of creative resistance that draw on and get strength from the legacy and power of the strike.
Speakers so far (more TBC):
- IWW Cleaners Branch
- Ewa Jasiewicz
- Feminist Fightback
- Precarious Workers Brigade
- Stefano Harney (QMU)
- Rep from the Sparks Campaign
These events will be followed by John Holloway talking about ‘Crack Capitalism and the Occupy Movement’