The London IWW has started organising in London’s warehouses and is calling on activists, whether members or not, to support its campaign to unionise this underpaid and largely female, migrant workforce.
Together with the Angry Workers of the World, who have been active in London’s warehouses since 2013, distributing thousands of newsletters and making links with workers, the IWW plan a six-month organising drive starting this month at a group of non-unionised companies each employing over one hundred workers. The intention is not merely to focus on the miserable wages and working conditions typical of the industry but also the common problems faced by these workers as tenants, migrants and women.
To build support for this campaign, the IWW are holding a public meeting in Central London on Sunday 17th September at 4pm, where workers intend to present their organising strategy. They are encouraging all activists who are interested in supporting migrant workers, regardless of whether they’ve had previous contact with the IWW or not, to come to the meeting and get involved.
Talking to libcom.org, one worker and activist at a Tesco distribution centre described the situation in the warehouses and surrounding community as “tense”:
“The pressure at work itself is heavy enough, but the current political climate around Brexit and wider migration issues directly impacts on people. The workmates from eastern Europe are pissed off, having worked hard for years, they are now seen as 'unskilled' migrants who everyone - from Tories to Labour - can hypocritically blame for the low wages.
“At the same time the state and bosses force the workmates from South Asia to work 60 hours a week to raise their annual income above the official threshold to keep their spouses here or bring them over.”
Continuing, he explains that while the mainstream unions are “around”, they mainly serve to manage the divide between permanent and agency staff as well as the divide between male and female workers. Moreover, the existence of many of these warehouses in West London has meant workers have been deeply affected by the Grenfell disaster.
“Things are tough here out west, but the increasing economic and political pressure on local migrant workers in the supply-chain of the city is about to blow the fuse. A collective effort of the IWW and supporters can help workers to finally ditch the fear!"
For those interested in attending, the meeting on Sunday, 17th of September at 4pm will be held at the Mayday Rooms, 88 Fleet Street, London, EC4Y 1DH. For more information, check the Facebook event.