Provoked by Parliament’s steadfast commitment to a Plan A of Austerity, the rusty machinery of the Trades Union Congress has provided the customary opposition in the form of its Plan B: marching for the alternative, marching for jobs, growth and justice, and now marching for a pay rise. We think it’s important that we join our fellow workers on 18 October, but we do so critical of the TUC, its politics and its innocuous demand. In short, we need a Plan C.The march on 18 October will be the biggest national mobilisation of the working class in two years. This is something the TUC is relatively good at – which is reasonable to expect given its immense budget. However, this is also an organisation which has joined forces with the Confederation of Business and Industry (CBI) in backing workfare programmes, and which increasingly appears interested in only engaging with – let alone fighting for – only a narrow subset of workers. Within the formal work economy, employment is increasingly casualised, while ‘informal’ work such as care – which is equally crucial to the generation of profit – remains as marginalised as ever within the TUC’s chauvinistic and rigid workerism.
The demand for a pay rise seems to be more closely tied to legitimising Labour’s new policy for an £8 minimum wage than creating a movement to challenge and transform the present reality of working class existence in Britain. Labour’s plan for a pay rise – 26p per hour on top of the existing minimum wage by 2020 – is an insult. It’s a grand plan to remunerate the increasingly impoverished and growing working poor with less than the price of a bag of crisps. The TUC’s support for such a policy is an embarrassment.
Throughout the week of the 13 October, we will be joining the national strikes and picket lines in the run up to the demonstration. One-day stop work actions obviously have their limitations, but any hope we have of strike action becoming more general and widespread means we must engage, participate and make connections. We have launched #strikeup to collect reflections, dreams and counter-narratives of what work and striking could look like in the future, and we encourage others to strike up similar conversations on their local picket lines. We will then join the march on 18 October, standing with our fellow workers while strongly critical of the TUC’s complicity.
A pay rise is not enough. We demand the ability to live without overwhelming insecurity. We demand to work with flexibility and on our own terms. We demand an end to the double burden of unremunerated care work. We demand an end to sexism and racism in the workplace. We demand a movement that does not limit itself to pay rises but one which dreams of a world beyond work. We demand a Plan C.
* Mass support, solidarity actions and participation in the national trade union strike on October 14th.
* A bloc at the TUC demo on October 18th in London.
We want to open up the ideas and plans for these interventions to everyone who shares our problem with work. We’ve already started these discussion at our festival (Fast Forward 2014) and want to continue them through a series of public discussions entitled: “We Need to Talk about Work” across different cities in the UK.
Through these discussions we’re hoping to collectively develop shared perspectives, and to translate our ideas into strategies for the struggle for freedom from waged slavery. These discussions will take place and the end of September, and we encourage everyone who can’t come to one of Plan C’s discussions to organise similar events in other places.
On 18th October the Trades Union Congress (TUC) will be organising its first national demonstration since 2012. Against the Plan A of austerity, the TUC and the left wing of the Labour Party are proposing a Plan B. With the slogan “Britain needs a payrise” the TUC have fallen in line behind Labour Party policies: clinging to the minimum wage, gesturing towards the living wage and mumbling about a higher minimum wage if employers can afford it. The TUC’s addition to this paltry collection of promises is a demand for a ‘crackdown’ on executive pay.
These policy proposals, and others like them, fall far short of both what we need and what we want. The problem isn’t just that we’re not paid enough for the work we do; it’s that most of the work we do isn’t paid at all. The problem isn’t just that our wages are too low; it’s that wages are still the only option open to us in order to survive. It’s not just that work doesn’t pay enough, it’s that we have to work for wages in the first place.
The demand for less work and more money is more realistic than the hope amongst the TUC and the Labour Party that all this current unpleasantness could be got rid of if we just got back to how it was before. You know, back when Britain made things goddamit, employers paid good family wages, and everyone had a job. The peddlers of this fantasy seem to be innocent of the fact that capitalism, and history, has moved on. They also seem innocent of the fact that we wouldn’t want their rosy dream of the 50s even if we could have it. It would mean going back to some version of the past (one that never really existed) where many of us would have to retreat back into the home so there could be ‘full employment’ for our husbands. It would mean rejigging the global economy in order to get back to some good old fashioned colonial exploitation which kept money flowing into British coffers.
We look forward to meeting you at one of the public meetings or on the streets on Oct 18. For more information firstname.lastname@example.org
I don’t think the state of things is readily reducible to bite-sized explanation-metaphors, nor that whole eras of the capitalist mode of production (this is of course not just a metaphor) should be understood under sweepingly simple code-words, but, unfolding better explanations by deploying such code-words as efforts to get us to think differently and in detail is of great use. And the corresponding tactical 1,2,3-step is also helpful, even if ’tis not the whole struggle – so having Plan C post this is very welcome, even for those times when I am neither miserable, bored, nor anxious (‘he’s behind you’ – the pantomime reflex).
Not anxious, but I am amazed, often variously amazed – even at the idea of posting this:
“Today’s public secret is that everyone is anxious. Anxiety has spread from its previous localised locations (such as sexuality) to the whole of the social field. All forms of intensity, self-expression, emotional connection, immediacy, and enjoyment are now laced with anxiety. It has become the linchpin of subordination.”
This public secret scales up into another Pantomime Terror. It starts with the kids, subjected to such performances, relentlessly – ‘it will be fun, you’ll see’. Then school, and eventually you get asked to love your work. Meanwhile:
‘public space is bureaucratised and privatised, and a widening range of human activity is criminalised on the grounds of risk, security, nuisance, quality of life, or anti-social behaviour’.
As they say on FB: read this, you’ll be amazed what happens next:
Previously on Plan C: https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/category/plan-c/
from 7pm Friday 25th April
entry by donation, free popcorn and cheap drinks
hosted by Plan C London – all welcome
followed by a bar night and tunes
Finally Got the News (1970)
Produced in Association with the League of Revolutionary Black Workers
dir. Stewart Bird, Rene Lichtman, Peter Gessner, US, video, 55 min.
Finally Got the News is a forceful documentary that reveals the activities of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers inside and outside the auto factories of Detroit. Through interviews with the members of the movement, footage shot in the auto plants, and footage of leafleting and picketing actions, the film documents their efforts to build an independent black labor organisation that, unlike the UAW, will respond to worker’s problems, such as the assembly line speed-up and inadequate wages faced by both black and white workers in the industry.
Click on the boot to download and read the full report, or here EdCommReport1
C is for Plan C
This is a multiple pile up: an economic crisis, an ecological crisis, an energy crisis, and a food crisis. This isn’t business as usual, lives are shifting, states are failing. Six years into a global economic crisis we are suffering the biggest drop in our living standards since World War Two and there’s no let up in sight. For the first time in almost 200 years the next generation’s lives will be significantly worse than our own — if things carry on as they are. It’s an under-statement to say the situation is serious.
Read more: here