Centring black struggle in our organising


Our solidarity has to go beyond mourning

The horrific murders of black people by state agents in the US regularly make international headlines but we are now seeing the largest protests regarding this fact since possibly the civil rights movement. The state has answered with further violence and repression, putting a population already threatened by racialised poverty & the pandemic in obscene levels of danger.

It’s tempting when we see the atrocities brought about by white supremacy abroad to distance ourselves from our role in and responsibility towards them.

In the UK we are no strangers to racialised violence, we just too often refuse to acknowledge it.

The police in the UK carry firearms only occasionally, but that doesn’t stop them from murdering and harassing BAME people in disproportionate amounts. Deaths in police custody and stop and frisk are some of the many ways in which the British state’s structural violence & racism towards marginalised communities manifests itself.

The criminal justice system is even less equipped than the American one when holding the brutality of its police to account: the last police officer convicted for a death in custody happened in 1969. Has every death and serious injury that has happened in police custody since 1969 been under perfectly lawful circumstances, or do we have a deeply white supremacist power structure that promotes racist policing and shields perpetrators from consequence?

Remember Sean Rigg, Dalian Atkinson, Edson Da Costa, Jean Charles de Menezes, Mark Duggan, Sheku Bayoh, Cynthia Jarret  and Olaseni Lewis. Remember Grenfell Tower. Remember Britain’s empire and the colonial past that led to tens of millions of deaths from starvation, famine and war in the global south, and the wealth it brought this country.

As a response to the various BLM protests happening around the UK, the police have weaponised the emergency powers granted to them due to Covid19 to arrest protesters en masse and otherwise detain POC more generally. At least three black men have been tasered by police in the UK over the past few weeks. The most recent in Manchester where Desmond Ziggy Mombeyarara was tasered while holding his five-year-old child and a Tottenham youth who was tasered and fell from a wall as a result and now will never walk again.

The UK needs a Black Lives Matter movement.

The UK needs riots.

The UK needs to dismantle its structure of white supremacy in the criminal justice system and all other aspects of life.

We need to raise awareness amongst white people who to this day benefit from this system. Challenge this racism at home, where we have skin in the game, rather than abroad where it’s easy to point fingers.

Donate to bail out funds in the US. Donate to organisations locally and abroad that are black led, have the expertise and are putting in the work. Donate your labour and time. Talk to your fellow workers, friends and family about systemic racism. Don’t ask black friends what to do, educate yourself. The IWW must look at itself and dismantle racism within our structures at all levels, centring the fight for black liberation not only in our policies, but actively in our organising.


Note: 
If you are planning to attend protests, make sure you use masks and gloves and maintain social distancing. POC are overrepresented in Covid19 cases & deaths. Make sure you’re not putting POC at risk when fighting for their rights.

Here is a good compilation of various resources including organisations to support, ways to educate yourself, books and articles you can read and groups to follow on social media (by feminist frequency):
https://www.patreon.com/posts/37835299

ORGANIZATIONS TO SUPPORT (but please do your own research):

UK Black Lives Matter Fund

List of BLM suggested ways to support: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/

Black-Led Org in Minnesota Leading Efforts Against Police Brutality, Paying Bail, Treating Protestors: Reclaim The Block

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES & LINKS

Compilation of antiracist books: https://bookshop.org/lists/this-list-is-anti-racist

26 Ways to be in the Struggle Beyond the Streets

Watch the documentary: “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution”

Article on history of antiracist feminism in the UK with further reading mentioned: Anti-racist feminism: engaging with the past

This article was written by Auri, a fellow worker, and does not necessarily represent the views of all IWW members

Posted in Black Lives matter, Community Organising, George Floyd protest, organising, Uncategorized, Wider workplace struggles | Tagged | 1 Comment

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.

 

Posted in Clydeside, collectivising issues, Edinburgh, Glasgow, migrant workers network, organising, tartan House, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Some links I found useful this week…

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, and I noticed there have been a few resources I have come back to several times to for friends, Fellow Workers and others, so I thought I would share them.

Please note that while this was up to date at the time of writing, and hopefully will be updated, things are changing fast, so you will need to check the links and do your research! This isn’t legal advice either, just stuff that might be useful.

If you have other links for useful information on organising, workplace rights, mutual aid or other relevant topics please comment with them below.

During this crisis, many people are facing problems with work, housing and other issues.

The most important thing you can do right now, if at all possible, is organise. There is information on how to do this in your workplace here:

https://iww.org.uk/resource/basic_principles_organising/

https://iwwscotland.wordpress.com/organise-at-work/

https://www.betterthanzero.scot/covid-19—next-steps/

If you want to organise around rent and landlords this is a good place to start: https://www.livingrent.org

If you want to organise across your industry, for example in healthcare or hospitality, contact your local IWW branch.

If you want to learn more about mutual aid and what’s going on in your area: https://freedomnews.org.uk/covid19ukmutualaidgroupsalist/

There’s a great blog post on organising mutual aid in your stairwell or block here: https://iwwscotland.wordpress.com/2020/03/17/how-to-set-up-a-stairwell-neighbourhood-covid-19-whatsapp-support-group/

 

However, while you’re starting to organise, you may need to deal with an individual problem quickly. You may also need information to start collective action. The following links might be useful.

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland/

https://www.cas.org.uk/news/new-advice-coronavirus

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-for-employees

ACAS guidance: https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus

TUC guidance: https://www.tuc.org.uk/resource/covid19coronavirusguidanceunionsupdated 23march

Mutual aid groups: https://freedomnews.org.uk/covid19ukmutualaidgroupsalist/

Citizens’ Advice: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/health/coronaviruswhatitmeansforyou/

If you are a disabled person, you can find useful information and advice on a range of subjects here: http://www.disabilityscot.org.uk

Information about furlough scheme: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

https://iww.org.uk/news/advice-sheet-claiming-the-government-furlough-scheme/

Zero hours (and advice on action/organising): https://www.betterthanzero.scot

If your boss is insisting that you come into work, but you do not think that it is safe to do so see https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus.

If you are worried about getting paid because you are self-isolating see https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus/selfisolationandsickpay.

For information about applying for benefits see https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sickordisabledpeopleandcarers/employmentandsupportallowance/beforeyouapplyfore sa/eligiblilityforesa/ and https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/universalcredit/. https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

For information about time of for caring for dependents see https://www.gov.uk/timeofffordependants.

For regularly updated advice on the situation for self-employed people:

https://www.fsb.org.uk/campaign/covid19.html

If you are worried about reduced hours or getting laid off:

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/leavingajob/redundancy/layoffsandshorttimeworking/ifyourcontractallowslayofforshorttimeworking/.

Information on what happens if your workplace closes:

https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus/iftheemployerneedstoclosetheworkplace.

 

Outside work …

 

Shelter can give advice on housing issues: https://scotland.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/scottish_housing_advice_coronavirus_COVID_19

If you are a homeowner, information regarding the current “mortgage holiday” arrangements can be found at https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/ukcoronavirushelpandyourrights/.

If you are unable to pay taxes due to coronavirus, a dedicated HMRC helpline has been set up on 0800 015 9559.

For     all      other     financial    hardship,    general    advice     can     be     found      at

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debtandmoney/ifyoucantpayyourbillsbecauseofcoronavirus/.

Don’t forget the links to mutual aid groups above…

Stay safe Fellow Workers, and don’t forget, solidarity and organising!!!!

This post was written by a Fellow Worker. It does not necessarily represent the views of the IWW or it’s members.

Posted in Covid-19, Wider workplace struggles, Workers United | 1 Comment

How to set up a stairwell / neighbourhood Covid-19 Whatsapp support group

Equipment: Pens, paper, phone, Whats

app, internet connection

It’s likely you’re going through some panic right now, or have done, or will around the drastic changes happening to our society over the next couple of month

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s. We’re in the midst of an outbreak of Covid-19 and it’s on everyone’s minds. It’s ok to feel like this is overwhelming, it’s a scary and dramatic thing that we’ve all most likely not gone through before.

As the days roll by we see there’s increasing numbers of people nee

ding to self-isolate, work from home or be confined into quarantine. We do this because we want to ‘Flatten the Curve’, i.e. reduce the number of critically ill people needing intensive medical treatment in hospitals at any one point.

What can we do to help this?

Increasing social connections and reducing physical contact!

Immediate actions

Start making a plan now about how you and your household will deal with self-isolation if need be. Think about things like food, medicines, entertainment, bills, rent, mortgage payments, works sick pay policy.

Next steps

1) Start a Whatsapp group for your local stairwell or local neighbourhood. Use posters on paper to leave your number for others to get in touch with you. Keep it to about 30 people max.

2) Encourage people to talk with each other about what’s going on. Get to know each other a little, trust goes both ways.

3) Discuss what might happen if someone needs to isolate. Are there people who’d be willing to do medicine runs or go on emergency toilet paper runs?

4) Follow trusted advice from experts in the field of medicine! Listen to doctors and what they ask of you, it’s important that we all take steps NOW to slow the spread of the disease.

Talk with friends and ask for help!

Social distancing is key to flattening the curve but we are social beings and we need connection. Knowing that there’s others around you that are willing to help out is key.

This might mean you’re talking to people you’ve never talked to before, that’s ok. It might also mean having to take a risk and trust strangers, and that’s ok too.

Get Organised!

All of this advice comes from the Covid Mutual Aid group and the groups aligning with them. There are plenty of resources available on this website https://covidmutualaid.org/

Remember to wash your hands for 20 seconds and to reduce all social contact to minimum.

Blog post written by Fellow Worker Gemma

Please note these are the views of one person,

and do not necessarily reflect the views of others in the IWW

Posted in Community Organising, Covid-19 | 3 Comments

International Women’s Day march 8th 2020

International Women’s Day event

Sunday 8th March 2020

 

A day of international celebration for what we do, and will continue to do, to envision, and bring about, a world of justice, equality, and compassion– and an end to poverty and exploitation.

We will assemble at 2 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.

IWD2020-banner1

We will be joining the collective Feministas Hispanohablantes en Glasgow at Donald Dewart Statue (Buchanan Street) at 3 pm and we will perform A RAPIST IN YOUR PATH with them.

 

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment