Unemployed? Low wages? Bad sex life?! 'The nation' won't help us!

Unemployed? Low wages? Bad sex life?! 'The nation' won't help us!

Article on nationalism and its divisive effect between workers, with a focus on warehouse workers in West London.

This article will be published and circulated as part of WorkersWildWest issue no.2 We distribute around 2,000 copies of this paper in front of warehouses and other workplaces in West-London. Issue no.2 will contain the following articles:

* The nation won't help us: Thoughts on nationalism and working class
* Slow-down at Sainsburys warehouse in Greenford
* Royal Mail: Reports from sorting offices in Greenford and Mount Pleasant
* Working and struggling at Amazon, Part 1
* Report from H&M warehouse in Germany and garment factories in Delhi
* Scams and solidarity actions: Report from Southall
* Scrapped fork-lift courses at Ealing job centre
* Occupied!: Short news on various occupations in London

You will be able to find the full version on this website shortly:

Finally, we would like to organise discussion meetings about our experiences and documentary film screenings on logistic workers' struggles in Italy in different towns in the UK between end of May and end of June 2015. We will send out a proper call soon, but if you are interested, you can contact us about it now:


A society where 'profits' are the main driving force and the gap between rich and poor keeps widening is unstable. Since 2008 we have lived in a state of worldwide crisis: after bank bailouts and cuts to spending, unemployment has risen, people have to move to find work and more people are competing for fewer jobs. But we have also seen an increase in struggles against the welfare cuts of the state, against 'corrupt governments' and attacks on wages and conditions - all over the globe. So the rulers have to come up with a strategy to push through their cuts and at the same time deal with our anger and discontent. Therefore it is no coincidence that in this situation we witness the re-emergence of nationalism: to divide-and-rule, politicians of most parties blame the 'immigrants' for the miserable situation, but at the same time they announce that they will squeeze 'their local workers' even harder (e.g. through changes in the labour law that would mean more zero-hours contracts and making it even more difficult to go on strike!) In some countries, like Ukraine, the new nationalism creates war.

Nationalism also plays a role where we work, in warehouses or other jobs around West-London. Many of us were not born in the UK, we speak different languages. On the job some of us might feel closer to our 'English', 'Polish' or 'Indian' manager, than to the 'foreign' person who works next to them - also because we hope that by sticking to 'our' manager we will get an advantage over other workers. BUT companies are able to use divisions and stereotypes to make us compete against each other and ultimately make more profits for themselves. We need to keep our eyes on our real enemies…


Working class people - us - turn towards the nation (state) mainly to 'protect our jobs'. But we have to question why there are 'jobs' and 'a limited number of jobs' in the first place. 'Jobs' are created by those with money and resources, only if the jobs create more money for them. They and their market decide what jobs we do - and most of these jobs only relate to money-making: advertising, financial services, securing the wealth of the rich. If we would all just work to produce what we need for a living (houses, nice clothes, good food, funny little gadgets), then we could just share out the work equally. If we didn't have to sell our time and energy to them for money, a lot of 'unemployment' would actually be a good thing. Why? Because it would mean fewer people are necessary to produce what we need: everyone could work less and we'd have more time to do other things that make us happy. But here and now we just look and compete for jobs, because we need money, and they create jobs only if they can make more money off us. Down with their jobs, down with their unemployment!


At the moment though, we unfortunately live in a world where we can't escape the realities of 'money', unemployment and 'crappy jobs'. Although workers produce everything, we have nothing, we have no say. Unemployment is created by the fact that as soon as the bosses are able to increase productivity, e.g. by use of new machines, they will try and cut jobs - for the sake of profit. Under these conditions 'technological progress', which could make life and work easier, causes more poverty. We have to compete with the machines we have produced for the bosses, and we lose - redundant workers get fired, more replaced workers enter the labour-market. The competition increases, the pressure on wages, too. The bosses keep the threat of unemployment over our heads to keep us obedient and divided. It does not need any 'migrants' for this to happen - it is the normal functioning of the system. Closing our borders would not help: in the 1930s there were millions unemployed in the UK - were there any Indians or Romanians around?!


Workers can't stick to their 'roots'. We have to take a job where we can find it, they have left us with nothing else to live on. When the steel industry in the North-West England closed down because they weren't making profits, people had to move to London to find work. When construction jobs paid more in Germany in the 1990s, thousands of UK workers went there. We had no say in it when unemployment in Poland increased by 20 - 30% in the 1990s and we had to leave. We didn't start the war in Syria, Ukraine, Somalia and we didn't want to fight for this or that warmonger. We had to leave. We are all migrants somehow and as long as we are just a mass of individuals, they will try to make us compete.


The state makes sure that workers and the unemployed keep competing with each other, rather than turning against the bosses. This happens in all kinds of ways, depending on the ups and downs of the market. The state introduces lower minimum wages or apprentice-schemes for the young. Unemployed workers are forced to work 'for their benefits' and kept schtum by 'benefit-scrounger' propaganda. When workers are needed the state puts pressure on women to look for jobs, if not, they are supposed to 'stay at home and be a good housewife'. If additional cheap labour is required the state shows its 'multicultural' side and encourages workers from other countries to come. At the same time the states puts extra-pressure on them by changing EU-migrant benefit laws or by raids on 'illegal migrants' - in order to force them to accept shit wages and to shut up. In this way hierarchies between different group of workers are created, which in the end puts more pressure on everybody.


The more difficult struggle for survival and current re-emergence of 'divide-and-rule'-strategies (e.g. 'anti-Eastern European' or 'anti-Muslim' propaganda) also pushes us deeper into our various 'communities'. We need the 'community' for survival e.g. for finding a flat or a job. At the same time, the richer members of the 'community' make nice profits off their 'fellow countrymen and countrywomen' e.g. by taking middle-men money (visa agents, landlords), by getting our votes (community representatives) or by exploiting our cheap labour (Polish construction gangs, Indian restaurants etc.). The middle-men of our communities love to remind us that 'we are from the same background', they love patriotism, because this is the main basis for their business. For us, in the long run 'the community' will turn into a ghetto: the fear to leave it and hostilities from other workers keeps us in high levels of exploitation.


Nationalism is a sign of fear: "Poor people from different places and languages can't fight together. The bosses are powerful. Better stick to those in power who at least speak the same language, have the same passport as us and promise us things". We can understand this fear, but we are even more afraid of the consequences once workers fight each other rather than the main reason for poverty: exploitation by bosses and state.

We can see what is happening in Ukraine. In the East of the country, workers in the steel and mining regions fear that once Ukraine will join the EU they will lose their jobs. This is why some of them might support the 'separatists', who talk bullshit about 'Russian' identity and who are supported by the regime in Russia. In the West of the country, unemployed workers with a better education hope that once Ukraine joins the EU they will have access to better jobs. This is why some of them might support the Ukrainian nationalists, who talk bullshit about 'Ukrainian' identities and who are supported by the US and the EU-regime. Although most workers try to stay out of this conflict, hundreds of them have been killed and the rise in military spending in Ukraine (over £200 million a month) means a rapid increase in poverty for ordinary people - and good business for the national and international middle-men. The regimes in Russia and EU are in crisis themselves, discontent amongst their 'local populations' is rising and they can use the conflict in Ukraine to point at an external enemy. Historically, global crisis and World War went hand in hand.


We are confronted with a possibility: workers everywhere around the globe have to fight under increasingly similar conditions; companies and industries are global; workers move around and learn different ways to struggle; so far the bosses and the state have used migration in order to play us off against each other; on the company level and beyond. If we look closer at some of the successful struggles of workers in history, we can see that workers who managed to use their various experiences of having lived and fought in different countries can be stronger. Workers worldwide know enough about how to do agriculture, produce garments, build houses, take care of other people - we can get rid of the middle-men, the bosses and politicians, who profit from us and who would rather tip the world into another 'Great War' than to admit that their system is bankrupt. Down with their system - we have the power to create something better!

Posted By

Mar 22 2015 14:38


  • We are all migrants somehow and as long as we are just a mass of individuals, they will try to make us compete...

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