Communique #1 London Assembly – international women’s strike

Statement from the London assembly of the international women’s strike. Very red feminism, centering black women, trans women, sex workers. I especially like the Voice of Domestic Workers bloc (follow the link to the original post to see the images). Well worth a read, worth sharing, and why not join in as well?

Communique #1 London Assembly

The International Women’s Strike in the UK began with women coming together to explore our visions of the red feminist horizon – what it could look like and how we could get there. The Women’s Strike is not a one-day event set to coincide with International Women’s Day each year – it’s not an activist campaign or a women’s project. In the UK and across the world we are witnessing an emerging international women’s movement that is experimenting with and struggling for a feminist future. We are not the first generation, nor will we be the last, to know in our gut that women’s liberation must be central to all social movements. We are not asking for our fair share under capitalism, we are seeking to destroy altogether a system that is designed to divide and oppress us. We already know women’s liberation to be at the heart of the struggle. To be clear: there will be no revolution until women’s lives and our labour are central to every political question.

In moving towards a red feminist horizon we continue the work of our feminist mothers and grandmothers in destabilizing ideas of womanhood. We refuse to be divided into good and bad women. We are not interested in reproducing a version of feminism that only makes some women visible, namely those who are white, middle class, cisgender and heterosexual. Nor is there anything stable, inherent or natural about being a woman. As Chandra Mohanty so forcefully argued 35 years ago, the relationship between “Woman” – a cultural and ideological construction and “women” who are real material subjects of our collective histories is one of the central questions that feminism seeks to act upon. We have to confront the reactionary and patriarchal ideas of what it means to be a woman today. Like that we are ‘naturally’ caring, that we all want to be mothers, that most of the time we are asking for it and the rest of the time we are in need of protection. Simultaneously, this confrontation must revalue care work and emotional labour, to support people who have children and combat the structural and systemic forms of violence and exploitation that harm so many women.

Reducing what it means to be a woman to set of biological characteristics and reproductive capacities and claiming that women’s oppression and exploitation is the direct result of having a certain genital configuration recognised at birth is a specific form of reactionary and misogynist politics that we have no interest in. From decades of black feminist thought we have learnt that universalist claims of what it means to be a woman serve the interests of some women at the expense of others. Such claims actively work against the possibility of meaningful connections and solidarity being forged between women who experience womanhood in different ways.

The red feminist horizon demands that we have full and final say on the meaning of our bodies, what they do, how we labour and what is done to our bodies. At the heart of that fight for bodily autonomy is reproductive justice: the right to reproduce when and how we want. For women to be free, we require full and free access to pregnancy termination, contraception and social services for children, parents and carers. But we also need full and free access to sperm freezing before trans women undergo hormone replacement therapy which results in infertility. We call for autonomy over our biological reproductive processes, whether they constitute a tendency to reproduce or, a tendency not to.

We are no longer interested in the faux-debates of whether sex work is ‘real’ work, whether the millions of hours we spend caring and cleaning is ‘real’ work, if the Women’s Strike is a ‘real’ strike or if trans women are ‘real’ women. Attempts to undermine the strength of our movement and thump the table about ‘authenticity’ say far more about those that seek to reduce women to our biological functions and confine us into victimhood, than it does about the vibrant and militant movement we are building. By looking to the wealth of knowledge produced by black feminism, transfeminism and sex worker rights movements we know who our sisters are. We know that trans women and sex workers have a central role to the play in dismantling the capitalist patriarchal systems of power that oppress us all.

We began the Women’s Strike as we intend to proceed. On the morning of the 8th March 2018 we organised a defiant direct action at the Department of Health to demand urgent action on trans healthcare. In the afternoon, 1000 people assembled for over four hours in central London, arriving from university picket lines in their hundreds and walking out of their offices, homes and factories. A social reproduction collective of mainly men organised collective childcare and cooked food to feed the whole assembly. We stood in solidarity with our Kurdish sisters, making it clear that we will defend the revolution in Rojava because their liberation is bound up with ours. Later on, we picketed pro-life religious organisations, joined striking cleaners who occupied Topshop to highlight their disgusting treatment of workers.

In the evening we took over the streets of Soho and marched behind sex workers who were on strike for the decriminalisation of all forms of sex work. The strike4decrim rally began with a minute of noise to remember the late Laura Lee, a fierce fighter for sex workers rights in Ireland. We heard from migrant sex workers who were arrested and humiliated during ‘anti-trafficking’ raids that did nothing for women in the sex industry and everything for property developers. We listened to strippers who are organising in their workplaces against being made to pay to get work and are denied basic employment rights. Our evening ended with hundreds of comrades, including sex workers and trans activists, joining the Picturehouse workers who have been striking and protesting for over a year to demand the living wage and decent working conditions. In bringing together service workers, sex workers, Kurdish women, single mothers, students, university workers, domestic workers, cleaners, artists and refugees we demonstrated our collective power. we exceed the narrow categories of womanhood forced upon us and make good on our promise to make feminism a threat again.

Statements by Uber Eats strikers in London

An important front has been opened in the struggle against precaritisation as workers – ‘contractors’ – at two restaurant delivery companies have self-organised and launched wildcat strikes (wildcat by definition: as the workers are not legally employed, there is no legal process for calling strikes). Below two statements from the Uber-eats workers, which can be found on the United Voices of the World Union fb page. Anybody in London or England try to support these guys any way you can.

The first a by-now-out-of-date call to strike and for support, listing their main grievances; the second, demands for reinstatement of the first victim of the anti-union purges.

“***BREAKING NEWS***
UberEATS COURIERS STRIKE FOR LONDON LIVING WAGE
>> #UberEATSstrike rally Friday at 14:30 at Black Swan Yard SE1, in South London. <<
(Full details below)

– Couriers strike on Friday to demand London Living Wage of £9.40 per hour plus costs.
– Workers say they cannot live off ‘poverty wages’, and call for an end to considerable disparities in pay for peak and off-peak pay.
– Rates have been cut from £20 per hour in June to £3.30 per delivery or less on a commission-only basis during off-peak hours.
– Drivers will rally on Friday at 14:30 at Black Swan Yard SE1, in South London.

Couriers at the UberEATS food delivery firm have declared an all-day wildcat strike on Friday unless the company reverses pay cuts and implements payment rates equivalent to a living wage of £9.40 per hour, plus costs. UberEATS has drastically reduced couriers’ rates since opening in London in June. The company, which offers no guaranteed minimum income, pays £3.30 per delivery or less during off-peak hours and approximately £6.30 to £7.30 per delivery during peak hours, minus a 25 per cent transaction fee and costs.

Couriers say this pay structure causes vast pay discrepancies between peak and off-peak hours for the same work, and means different drivers are paid unequally for the same hours. Workers who joined UberEATS on the offer of £20 per hour have been dismayed by this rapid drop to insecure piece rates and are demanding a guaranteed pay equal to the London Living Wage, the minimum required to survive above the poverty line in the capital.

Couriers and supporters will assemble for a strike rally at 14:30 on Friday in Black Swan Yard at Bermondsey Street SE1, in South London.”

The first response of the management was to sack (‘de-acticvate’) the first leader they could see emerging. Naturally his re-instatement was added to the list of demands.

“Listen to the inspiring Imran Siddiqui explain how he has been “deactivated” (aka sacked) by Uber Eats in retaliation to his elected role as lead organiser and spokesman of the Uber Eats drivers who are currently on stirke and are asking to be paid a living wage.

Freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association are human rights, however Uber would obviously rather violate their drivers’ human rights rather than pay them a living wage.

Uber might think that by taking out the leader the rest of the drivers will give up and get back to work, but Imran’s sacking has only hardened their resolve and the drivers are now more united than ever and gearing up for what is looking likely to be a protracted battle, and one that will only end in victory for the drivers!

We demand the reactivation (reinstatement) of Imran now!”

To watch the video follow this link.