Tripalium or Tartan House: Glasgow Migrant Workers Network fights back

Beginnings are always the hardest. Like the blank sheet for the writer, the beginning is a challenge, it is uncertainty – and tackling it always requires a dose of reflection and bravery.

Taking the first step is essential and encouraging.

Migrant workers did at Tartan House. Workers from the tourist shop chain with more than twenty stores across Glasgow and Edinburgh launched a campaign in December to challenge their appalling working conditions.

The list of labour abuses deserved it: irregular disciplinary processes, working shifts of 10 or more hours, unpaid holidays, insects and rodents in the workplace, absence of heating with opened doors in the middle of winter, etc.

Not to mention the bagpipes – bagpipes blasting in an endless loop, a cruel metaphor for racist jingoism stepping on the migrant working class.

When thinking about Tartan House I cannot avoid recalling the etymology of the word, ‘work’. It comes from the word ’travail’, which in turn comes from the latin word tripalium, instrument of torture used in ancient times. Prisoners were tied to three stakes and burnt with fire

 And in response to torture, there can only be rebellion.

 After sending a letter to the company with the worker´s demands and not receiving any answer, we organised several leafleting sessions.  Several workers got back their unpaid holidays, and the heating was fixed. Successes came from collectivising issues.

The Tartan House case is a reminder that organizing is fundamental, today more than never, taking in account the future challenges we will face after the lockdown.

Tartan House has been the first case of Migrant Workers Network, within Clydeside Industrial Workers of the World, whose  main goal is organizing the migrant working class.

We believe in mutual aid and education to empowering ourselves and protecting one each other.

We reject every kind of oppression and we will fight in solidarity basis to emancipate our class.

This post was written by a Fellow Worker.

It does not necessarily represent the views of the IWW,

Clydeside branch or it’s members.


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