Equality, Radical Unionism, and Safer Spaces

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Why Safer Spaces?
Totally safe spaces would be good, but are probably not possible under capitalism and patriarchy. A Safer Spaces policy is the next best thing.

As a radical union that engages in both workplace organising and community campaigning, a primary goal of the Industrial Workers of the World is to make all members feel as safe as possible and to effectively deal with the equality issues which are part of Safer Spaces — truly a necessary part of the health and
safety mission of every trade union.

Equality, solidarity, and Safer Spaces are principles basic to industrial organising, not optional extras. Practice based on safer spaces — and actions in coalition with other anti-authoritarian groups — strengthen our ability to make connections with other workers, since people are unlikely to join an organisation or participate in it if they do not feel safe, or if the organisation’s perspective is too narrow. Solidarity, whether on picket lines or anti-war marches, is the heart of radical unionism.

In contrast, divide and conquer is a common tactic of the bosses and oppressors. In the past, unions have kept out women, Jews, and Blacks. Without Safer Spaces we create a climate that excludes members of some groups, setting us up to serve the interests of the bosses – not a good idea. United we are strong. Divided we are weak.

What are safer spaces?
There are general ideas of what is meant by safer spaces, but not an agreed definition. The initial and still frequent focus is gender. Women are still undermined, ridiculed and inappropriately touched in many organisations. Often serious incidents of sexual assault are not responded to properly. Instead, the woman making the complaint and her supporters are blamed. This is totally unacceptable. We need to actively oppose belittling and violence in our organisations and in society as a whole.

However, Safer Spaces gender issues are wider than the treatment of women. They also cover respect for trans people (many of whom identify as members of a particular gender rather than trans) and anyone who does not identify with binary gender divisions. Trans and non-binary people experience discrimination in the workplace, so this is clearly a union issue. It is also one of defending rights and transforming society — basic principles of a radical union.

Building and maintaining a culturally and ethnically diversified membership is a goal for the IWW and many other organisations that are predominantly White. Are there cultural assumptions which make members of colour and those from ethnic minorities feel excluded? What measures are in place for ensuring that speakers of other languages can participate effectively and are not marginalised? These are all Safer Spaces issues that are barriers to full participation in an organisation or campaign.

Another major issue is accessibility. Physical accessibility is an important part of this, but lack of access goes beyond this. It includes access to documents and information, participation in discussion, and an environment that accommodates people with a particular need, such as a low level of sensory stimulation.

Access to social events is just as important as meeting-place access. This means treating all disabled people with respect, including those who look and/or behave ‘differently’, for instance not staring at them or ignoring them.

Safer Spaces is not about gloom and guilt, but it does require that ‘fun’ not be at the expense of others.

Creating Safer Spaces

Safer Spaces starts with education. It includes learning from other groups and individuals about different ways of organising and involving people; about their experiences with Safer Spaces and what has worked, or gone wrong.

There are different approaches to Safer Spaces, so a group interested in creating a Safer Spaces policy should find or create a model that feels right for them– preferably one that aims to prevent safer space violations before they occur, rather than deal with them afterwords.

Union organising, human rights campaigning, and Safer Spaces are all works in progress — from agreement on basic principles for action, to appreciation of personal, political, and cultural differences, to agreeing policies and being ready to implement and monitor them.

Our goals for the Industrial Workers of the World are equality, solidarity, and action for workers rights and social change. We realise that reaching these goals requires organisational strategies. The first of these is individual and collective
commitment to relating to others as equals, in an honest and compassionate way. That is the essence of Safer Spaces and human rights campaigning, and the right path for radical unionism.

Contact us at:

westscotland[at]iww.org.uk

‘Equality, Radical Unionism, and Safer Spaces’ (pdf file)

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MAYDAY EVENTS FOR 2018

MAY DAY START TO MAY DAY WEEK

TUESDAY, MAY 1ST…
 

A Local Event Celebrating an International Holiday for Working Class Solidarity

 

PARADE  Gathering at the cenotaph in George Square at 11.30 am, the heading up Buchanan Street with a Radical Scotland banner and placards to Dewar’s statue.  Songs, chants, and noise makers welcomed.

RALLY at the concert hall steps, Buchanan Street, 12 noon- 2pm; street stalls, musicians, sing-a-long, open mic; bring songs to sing and things to say about workers’ rights and human rights in this age of austerity, precarity, and surveillance.

Website for more May Day events co-sponsored by the Clydeside Branch of the IWW: mayday.link

 

SPREAD THE WORD!

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International Women’s Day, 8 March, 2018, Glasgow

An International Women’s Day event, initiated by the Equality Officers of the Clydeside Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World, will be held on Thursday, the 8th of March.

The rally and Walk of Pride will assemble at 4.30 pm at the La Pasionaria statue located on the north bank of the River Clyde next to Glasgow Bridge, opposite the Custom House on Clyde Street.

This site was chosen because of the prominent role Dolores Ibarruri, called La Pasionaria (‘The Passionate Flower’) played in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, in defense of the Spanish Republic ; and because the statue of her by sculptor Arthur Dooley so beautifully represents the revolutionary woman of courage that she was– and that many of us strive to be.

The rally will also honour the Scottish revolutionary, Ethel MacDonald, who was a key figure in the Scottish anarchist movement and in the Spanish Civil War.  In 1936 she was sent by the United Socialist Movement to Barcelona where she became world-renowned as the English-speaking reporter for an anarchist radio station. She also remained an activist, daringly organising hunger strikes among the political prisoners, smuggling in letters, and helping some escape .

The rally will feature a banner that says Celebrate International Women’s Day For a World Free from Capitalism and Patriarchy, singing,  and an open mic.

At 5.30 pm we will start our Walk of Pride, with banner and placards, to George Square where we will join up with the Scottish Irish Abortion Rights campaigners for a #Solidarity4Repeal demo at 6 pm– thus linking it to one of the most critical issues of the day: access to abortion as a woman’s right.

Throughout the afternoon, we will be proudly expressing our belief that Sisterhood, and Comradeship, are Powerful!

All are welcome to attend. Please spread the word.  More information is available from doraziosusan92@gmail.com.

 

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Sma Shot Day 2017 – Paisley

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May Day on the Green 2017

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Austerity is an Assault on Women

austerity and patriarchyNow is the time for both women and men across Scotland, the UK, and internationally to take to the streets to demand an end to violence against women and the attitudes that support it.

The cuts which have descended on the public sector fall heavily on women, and aid and abet violence against women in all its forms.

It is likely to be women that are most severely affected by the changes to housing benefit and to working tax credit.  It is likely to be women who will pick up the slack as social services are slashed and subsidies for childcare disappear.  It is likely to be women who absorb the rising anger of a generation of youth cast aside unable to obtain either employment or further education.

As radial activists, we need to take advantage of all opportunities to put forward a socialist and feminist perspective on violence against women, including all budget cuts. We must make our position clear: capitalism and patriarchy breed violence.

What we are confronting today, in these austerity budgets, is systemic violence that includes poverty, unemployment; and inadequate housing, childcare, mass transit, social services, and access to education and training– all coupled with discrimination and bigotry based on gender, age, sexual preference, and physical appearance and ability.

Massive layoffs and budget cuts are guaranteeing further disintegration of the public sector– a global crisis that is causing an upsurge in the level of all forms of violence against women.

March 8th — International Women’s Day– is our day. It’s our opportunity to come together to speak out for a world where democratic, anti-authoritarian,  socialist feminist values and programs enable people to live lives in ways they never will be able to under capitalism and patriarchy.

We join with others to say zero tolerance of the abuse of women. Defend and expand the public sector. Reverse the budget cuts.  Tax the rich.

Susan Dorazio

Member of the Industrial Workers of the World, Spirit of Revolt/Archive of       Dissent, and the Scottish Peace Network, Glasgow, March 2017

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International Women’s Day: Our Day of Empowerment, Resistance, Celebration

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About IWD History…

1909: The Woman’s National Committee of the Socialist Party of America calls for a national day of protest on the last Sunday of February to support women’s suffrage in the context of the broader movement for women’s rights, workers’ rights, and social justice.

1910: The Women’s Congress of the Socialist International meets in August in Copenhagen and approves the call for an international day of protest. The specific date is left open to the participants in each country.

1913: Russian socialists begin celebrating International Women’s Day. Their intention is to organize rallies for the same day as that set in the United States, but since the Julian calendar lags 13 days behind the Western calendar (not used in Russia until 1918), the events take place in early March by our reckoning.

1917: The date of March 8 for International Women’s Day gets established when tens of thousands of women, demonstrating on that day in Petrograd, the capital of Russia, spark a revolution that topples three centuries of czarist autocracy.

About IWD and Peace….

In August 1914, World War I erupted, leading to the slaughter of millions. International Women’s Day became a focal point for those calling for an immediate end to the war. On February 23, 1917, (March 8 on the new calendar), tens of thousands of Russian women celebrated International Women’s Day by surging onto the streets of Petrograd demanding peace. These militant protests led to the downfall of the czar and, soon afterward, Russia’s decision to leave the war.

Senseless wars continue. Once again we are told that military action is intended to promote freedom and peace, and once again we know the real reasons are about power and wealth. As we demonstrate our opposition to war and occupation this and every International Women’s Day, we commemorate the heroic actions of the women in Petrograd in 1917 and all of us since then who fight back against capitalism and patriarchy. In doing so, we maintain an unbroken link in the struggle for peace, justice, and equality.

About IWD and Power…

International Women’s Day is about power: theirs and ours. Their power puts courts and legislatures in charge of whether or not a woman can have an abortion. Our power leaves this decision where it belongs: with the woman herself.

Their power resides with greedy corporations owned by an ultra-wealthy few that deplete the world’s resources and exploit its people. Our power depends on building a mass movement for a new society rooted in cooperation, equality, and workers and community control.

Their power dumps toxic waste sites in our poorest communities, and builds dams that destroy the livelihoods of countless farmers in our poorest countries. Our power demands environmental justice. Their power busts unions. Our power is at our worksites, talking with our co-workers about the connections between workers’ rights, human rights, and women’s rights. Their power is so-called reforms like Workfare that push women into low-paid, dead-end jobs. Our power is the fight for the creation of good jobs with pay equity and benefits, and the full funding of quality child care, education, and social services.

Their power dupes young men and women into signing away their rights and often their lives for the sake of national glory. Our power gets the word out on alternatives to military service and calls for huge cuts in the military budget. Their power blames hunger and poverty on over-population. Our power blames hunger and poverty on policies and practices consciously designed to protect and enrich the global capitalist class, in particular the agribusiness of the most developed countries.

Their power gets channeled through politicians whose primary allegiance is to the economic requirements of global capitalism. Our power gets exerted through political action completely independent of the mainstream, capitalist parties. Their power resides in exploitation, inequality, domination, violence, and deception. Our power resides in cooperation, compassion, respectful communication, justice, and collective action.

March 8th — International Women’s Day– is our day. It’s our opportunity to come together to speak out for a world where democratic socialist feminist values and programs enable people to live lives in ways they never will be able to under capitalism and patriarchy. That’s the truth. That’s our power.

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