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Tactics for Temps

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Lazlo_Woodbine
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Mar 25 2004 16:13
Tactics for Temps

Temp work is on the increase. The corporations survive on a constant turn over of young, poor temp workers doing routine admin and clerical work. I think this is one of the places where multinational capitalism is also *vulnerable*. None of these workers have any loyalty to the compnay; I bet most of them already steal from work.

Is is feasible to start to organise amongst them? Are ther any places where this has happened? I imagine most mainstream unions won't toch temps with a bargepole -- and even if they did they' wouldn't be able to offer them any real benefits? Can we?

What are useful tactics that temp workers can use, collectively or individually?

Steve
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Mar 25 2004 16:38

Didn't see this but I've just posted this on the other thread.

Steve wrote:
SolFed is taking part in an international IWA campaign around casualisation/temporary working. Manchester SF have launched the Manchester Against Casualisation Campaign and I think a lot of effort will be going in that dierection.

You can contact the Manchester Campaign at macc@manchestersf.org.uk

The "Stuff Your Boss" leaflets are also part of this. You get copies from SolFed or download one from http://www.solfed.org.uk/

Quickly I think it is feasable to start to organise but we have to make links because the increasing use of temporary workers and the increase in casual work effects everyone, temps, part and full time workers. It means deteriorating conditions for all and cuts in health & safety. The next Catalyst will be put together soon and will no doubt feature something on this so if anyone has any thoughts send them to us c/o lancashiresolfed@hotmail.com

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pingtiao
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Mar 26 2004 10:27

Well, the only over-arching structure is that of the actual Boss, the parasitic Temp Agency itself. This is where the best place for action would be, as the workers are only transient in each particular job whereas their connection to the agency is more permanent.

Perhaps the margin is what could be attacked, that way the business that actually pays for the temp would be unaffected (so would not take part in resistance), and there would be more chance of getting a large number of otherwise unconnected, atomised workers involved... red n black star

I fucking hate my temp agency. I negotiated myself a new job: i wrote my own job spec, sorted out my own rate of pay...and then the agency decided how much of that I would get, and continues to feed of my work. I hate them.

AlexA
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Mar 26 2004 11:56

Yeah I know what you mean...

Although did anyone see (it was reported in the new Freedom wink) that with the Telegraph workers strike threat one of their demands - which they won - was that the pay offer was extended to casual workers, and will be every time from now on.

But yeah I was a temp for ages, and it would seem wise to try to organise workers by agency, since one agency has lots of people on each wage-band. Hmmm but then again what kind of action could they take? A lot of people work for multiple agencies too. And it would be very difficult getting people working for one agency to meet each other...

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pingtiao
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Mar 26 2004 13:08

Well, the plave I work in hust have over a hundred temp workers, some who have been there for over a year. If we are off sick, or on holiday, we get no extra money. They get away with it by "factoring-in" (read: paying you less) the holiday pay into the hourly rate.

They also get you to sign an exemption from the EC Working Time Directive upon joining.

So: we have loads of workers workig through temp agencies in each place. People can contact each other by simply standing outside and handing out leaflets (although this would be better done by someone who didn't work there for security purposes), or sending all-employee emails announcing a public meeting.

I've been thinking about it today though.

By adding an extra layer of exploitation (boss + agency), the system just increases repressive measures that can e taken against you if you strike. They also insulate themselves from strike action by making it extremely difficult to actually fight against them directly. I am having alot of problems coming up with any strategies that seem effective to me...

Can anyone point me to existing campaigns or websites?

red n black star

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Mar 26 2004 14:39

Yeah, I think we've really got to think up new stuff for this one. Maybe we could just start by putting together things that would make life as a temp easier? Knowledge of emploment law is one thing, what about other dodges? If they make people 'sell' themselves can we help people scam this? On-line CV bank full of the kind of wank that they want us to say? Info about how to skive/steal from work? Start thinking of ways to spread anti-boss culture (usually not difficult!).

On-line boards like this and U75 are a major way that people avoid work -- could we set up an anarcho resource to help people pass the time?

None of this goes as far as 'resisting casualisation' ,but i think we need to start from the assmuption that it's here, and how can we make life easier while we're caught in it.

Strikes seem to be right out -- not real way for temps to collectiviely bargain; that's the aim of the whole system, really.

We need to get fucking sneaky... twisted

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pingtiao
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Mar 26 2004 14:48

Striking does seem very unlikely, as there would be little support from permanent workers (wouldn't it count as secondary picketing?). But it woud hurt two bosses instead of one....

OK, lets go for physical attacks on the CEOs and major shareholders of temp agencies, combined with a nice little firebombing campaign? "Like that coupe, do you? Well it WAS BOUGHT WITH THE BLOOD OF TEMP WORKERS CAPO SCUM!" Boooomm!

Hmm.. Letter writing? red n black star

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Mar 26 2004 14:51

Hmm...I see where you're going with that one.

A shadowy organisation of temp slaves issues a communique. "We demand all temp's computers be fitted with Quake III. Refusal of our demands will unlock the gates of hell."

How badly could we squeeze the fuckers do you think?

before being declared terrorists cry

Augusto_Sandino
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Mar 26 2004 14:54

Just because theyre temps, i cant see why they cant be a member of a "one big union" style organisation, so when they get another job they just keep their membership. In a big, all encompasing syndicalist union, the occupation wouldnt matter.

The real hand the bosses have over the workers, is that temp workers are unskilled and readily available, strikers can be fired and replaced. We need other techniques than strikes, although i dont honestly know what they would be.

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cantdocartwheels
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Mar 26 2004 18:01

i wouldve thought it was more important to work out who the temp workers are.

The old, mothers, internmittent unemployed, the young, the now made unskilled and immigrants.

Or at least thats what i find where i was working a few months back.

I haven't read the report but i imagine it looks at which social groups make up the ''temps''. At least i hope so.

Older workers and those with families might care about health benefits, but younger workers won't give a shit about that.

In fact i recjkon syndicalism has a lot to offer here partly because it can adapt itself to a looser union structure, certainly protecting workers from the predatory nature of employment agencies would be an easy union tactic to employ and could be carried out be a seperate agency (dual union) like the iww.

A low rate, low contract union that worked on an individual basis.

Given that many ''temps'' teeter on unemployment anyway a big fee paying union with loads of forms will scare people off. If i'm a 50 year old cleaner going from job tojob i'm not gonna risk getting fired no matter ho temting those health benefits sound.

you basically need more agitators

john

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Mar 27 2004 15:47

I just found this -- "Red guide to Temping" from New York. It looks really good, including practical advice and info about a zine.

I'll say more when I've read it through.

http://www.panix.com/~grvsmth/redguide/slave.html

GenerationDecay
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Mar 27 2004 17:50
Quote:
Can anyone point me to existing campaigns or websites?

http://www.simonjones.org.uk/

I know the guy's brother. Its an eye-opening (and tragic) website if you haven't heard about it before. It has a decent links page as well.

GDxx

brizzul
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Mar 28 2004 23:48

Fighting Temporary Work Week.

This year, as every year, that parasitic front organisation for the promotion of temporary work over permanent worthwhile labour, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), is planning to name one lucky worker as “One in a million”. This is as a part of their self-style National Temporary Worker’s Week.

While this blessed worker is bestowed with this honour, what will the nations other 999,999 temporary workers be doing? Probably what they do every other day of the year. Wonder if they will have work next week, speculate if joining a union will get them the sack, guess how much the permanent worker alongside them earns, or contemplate how to bring about a fairer way manage the economy.

In opposition to the REC and National Temporary Worker’s Week, Bristol Against Casualisation Campaign is proposing a week of counter events.

Fighting Temporary Work Week.

National Picket of Employment Agencies. 17th – 21st May 2004.

Choose your target agency. In Bristol we are planning to picket Manpower offices but go for your least favourite agency and make them know we are fighting back.

Cider and Pork Scratching Reception (veggie option available). 20th May 2004

Parliament Square, Westminster, London - 4.00pm

While the agency bosses gather quaff champagne, nibble canapés and discuss how to screw that extra penny out of our hard labours. We are calling on all those against casualisation to gather to express your anger at their greed. No more death, poor pay and worsening work conditions.

Fight Temporary Work – One-day conference. 22nd May 2004 (Free admission)

To be held in Bristol, a forum for those engaged in fighting casualisation to discuss strategies and build alliances. The agencies work together to shape the world to their advantage. How do those united in opposition to casualisation start to fight back? Gather in Bristol to address this question. Register interest in attending this conference – email bristolacc@hotmail.com. Details on local accommodation.

Objectives:

* To encourage dialogue between all workers involved in the struggle against Casualisation, with the aim, to formulate strategies to fight against the erosion of workers rights and their working conditions.

* To highlight the efforts of workers organising across the country to fight back against this trend that is eroding workers rights and working conditions.

* To promote awareness of the role of employment agencies in the promotion of flexible working and the growing use of casualised labour in all sectors of the economy.

bristolacc@hotmail.com

Box 4, Greenleaf Bookshop, 82 Colston St, Bristol, BS1 5BB

Ansaphone: 0779 2018881

Sorry.
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Apr 10 2004 20:01

I have a question - does anyone have an inside knowledge about temp agencies, how they work etc ...

'Cause I was wondering how hard it would be to duplicate their function (ie. get work contracts, gather names of people who need temp work) with a few volunteers?

You'd then charge the company whatever their old agency was charging them, but give all the money to the person who does the work.

I know that doesn't address the central issue of casualisation, but it'd be start, surely? If it was successful then people would stop going to the temp agencies and temp workers would - de facto - be organised into something approximating a union (a volunteer labour exchange).

Mystic
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Apr 11 2004 09:26

Sweet idea smile! I'd be up for trying to organise something like that.

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cantdocartwheels
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Apr 11 2004 10:40
Sorry. wrote:
I have a question - does anyone have an inside knowledge about temp agencies, how they work etc ...

'Cause I was wondering how hard it would be to duplicate their function (ie. get work contracts, gather names of people who need temp work) with a few volunteers?

You'd then charge the company whatever their old agency was charging them, but give all the money to the person who does the work.

I know that doesn't address the central issue of casualisation, but it'd be start, surely? If it was successful then people would stop going to the temp agencies and temp workers would - de facto - be organised into something approximating a union (a volunteer labour exchange).

No offence mate but What The Fuck?!

So lets get this straight, you want to own an employment agency, that operates a form of 'good capitalism' because it pays its workers a bit more, except it relies on a few individuals paying out the money to them. And you want a sort of union where people don't actually have any say in how its working.

maybe i'm getting completely the wrong end of the stick but this sounds like bourgeois liberalism, and a partivularly corruptable form of it aswell, i know some of you don't like class analysis but jeez, you can't expect people to keep their '''principles'' for very long if their in charge of an employment agency.

I'm just happy that it wouldn't work unless you totally dissasociated yourselves with anarchism so at least the rest of us wouldn't look bad.

I mean lets face it, no sane boss is going to agree to this anyway. Its not liek theres a shortage of reserve labour and you'd never get enough people to sign on or anything.

And if you tried to set up some form of direct democracy within the organisation (which you didn't mention for some reason), which wouldn't make it a union but i suppose would make it mildly preferanble to a standard explotatative employment agency, no boss would tpouch you with a barge pole.

But in the end you are still their employer, you are in the position of authority, its hardly revolutionary and its not left wing either.

If you have that much info just set up a union to stick it to the bosses and to the employment agencies, smile

john

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Apr 11 2004 11:41

I think sorry has a point. What can a temps union offer people right now? We haven't come up with any real tactics.

A front agency, on the other hand, could offer a real cushion -- I auume sorry is talking about a front. It could give people good references, gatherin info on companies to empower it's members. maybe the companies would get wind of itb, but that's a practical matter, not a political problem.

maybe you shouldn't be so quick to knock other people's ideas?

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cantdocartwheels
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Apr 11 2004 12:07
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:
I think sorry has a point. What can a temps union offer people right now? We haven't come up with any real tactics.

A front agency, on the other hand, could offer a real cushion -- I auume sorry is talking about a front. It could give people good references, gatherin info on companies to empower it's members. maybe the companies would get wind of itb, but that's a practical matter, not a political problem.

maybe you shouldn't be so quick to knock other people's ideas?

hmm well sorry seemed to be suggesting setting up a rival employment agency, this agency would pay temp workers....now i'm not comfortable with taht one. You are basically putting people in the position of the employer. And people are just people....

A front agency it may be but it seems pretty pointless, are there not better ways to gather information. I mean i think they'd shut it down quickly enough anyway.

On the subject of unions how would it be impossible to set up a union for temps.

Employment agencies would be the main target, all you do is offer the union to people. Start off by poffering to cut out the elements of temp agencies taht trap peopel..ie limits on hours

By targeting the excesses you build up confidence in the unions and their democratic mode of operation. And make a point of showing that they belong to a syndialist group, but as always don't try and force wider politics on people.

The fundamental runnings of the employment agency are not different to the basis of capitalism. You've just got to target the employment agency first before the place of work.

And why should i not knock an idea if i think its wrong, ok maybe i should have left out the ''what the fuck'' bit (sorry for that) but i thought this is a pretty calm response otherwise. I've got nothing against the guy but i think he's wrong in this case. Its just discussion.

john

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Apr 11 2004 12:28

No, I don't think you've shown that a union would be able to offer any real benefits -- I agree that we should try to pressure the companies in terms of hours, etc, but surely the massive reserves of labour will millitate against that too?

Call it what we like -- a union, a fake agency -- temps need to get together. I don't think that trad union tactics have much to offer; maybe acting inside the skin of casualisation is right now more practical than acting to halt casualisation.

Incidantally, i've just seen an ad for a temps' co-op in the latest *Direct Action*. Anyone know more about this? How would it work?

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cantdocartwheels
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Apr 11 2004 13:22

Say a temp worker wants to keep a job, or needs more or less hours but their employement agency likes to keep profting from the workers labour so they stop the worker from keeping the job or sorting out resoanble hours.

That happens a lot, unions need to be formed to organise temps but they need to get a foot in the door somehow to prove that they can work.

There are lots of minor isntances like this taht unions can attack, then move on to wider issues.

I this way the organisations would transform form a workers rights campaign into fully fledged unions.

I'm sorry but i get suspicious of crimethincness(tm) /liberalism when i hear someone talk about ''trad union tactics''. roll eyes smile

A ''temp workers co-op'' otherwise known as a Liberal Employment Agency just doesn't look like it would work at all. Maybe i'll reserve my judgement a bit but to be honest i suspect its pointlessly reformist and a waste of time. But huh good luck lol.

Afterall the new temp workers agency, say its successful, what then?

It doesn't incite class conflict it just encourages class colaboration.

john

Sorry.
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Apr 11 2004 14:32

ok, try thinking about it less in terms of being a 'liberal temp agency' and more in terms of being a labour exchange. It's sole function is to take the simple process of gathering job information and workers in the same place away from profiteers. I see no reason why it couldn't be democratically organised by its members. I don't see how the fact that the money passes through the exchange before reaching its members makes it the employer. Union run labour exchanges have been a crucial part of building syndicalist movements in the past, I don't see why they can't be again.

I have no idea what you think a general workers union could offer. They already exist (TGWU, GMB etc) and are mind numbingly ineffective at organising temps or gaining them rights. What possible leverage does a temp worker have over employers? by the nature of the employment they're replaceable if they make a fuss (or even if they join a union). Why would an agency worker join a temp workers union? how could it become a fighting organisation? how are you going to persuade people that they should go to the effort of joining a union for the privilege of solidarity from a few other isolated militants?

the potential in a democratically organised labour exchange for class conflict is massive. Imagine (dream, maybe ...) it was truly successful and it wiped out the temporary work agencies, you've got marginalised local workers organised in the same place that they run democratically. Employers have no choice but to either employ workers directly (which is one of the things a campaign to stop casualisation/temp work would surely be going for) or from the militant labour exchange. You've also unionised all the potential local strike breakers.

yeah, employers might sabotage it or boycott it; on the other hand, that's dependent on them having a pretty developed sense of class consciousness and realising that workers organised in this way could be dangerous - otherwise they'll just see this as an oppurtunity to cut the money they presently fork out to employment agencies.

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cantdocartwheels
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Apr 11 2004 15:09

Na i doubt it, i honestly don't think this is a good idea in this scenario and Unions are massively superior to co-operatives and other such alternatives to capitalism that are actually just capitalism because unions more directly accentuate class conflict by being set up driectly against the ruling class. Revolutionary unions do not Employ their workers, they do not give wages out liek you are suggesting.

Thats my view, no doubt you may be able to change it by doing this, but i doubt it will happen anyway.

john

ps and i don't see what reformist trade unions have to do with this, mentioning the bureacratic TGWU as an example of why trade unions fail is pretty pointless. Its a bureacracy, the reason is fairly obvious.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Apr 11 2004 22:14

No kind of union is working now in the temp trade at all -- bureaucratic or anarcho-syndiacalist. Why is this? I think it's not just because people haven't got around to it, it's because the leverage that temps have is so small.

You say that:

"unions more directly accentuate class conflict by being set up driectly against the ruling class"

Most unions this is not true. Unions tend to get sucked into simply mediating work life too. As sorry said, how isny tempt union going to have this 'fighting spirit'? because anarchist will be involved? That's just voluntrism.

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Rob Ray
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Apr 12 2004 12:22

UK law is well set up to deal with large unions, has been for decades.

Currently if a union wants to strike and doesn't want horrific fines imposed, branches closed down and its leaders imprisoned it has to submit plans for a strike a month in advance to the police, government and employers (!), map out exactly what will be happening, prevent affected members from doing any unlicenced picketing, prevent illegal 'secondary' action from its other members and do several ballots. All this gives employers plenty of time to go to individuals and threaten them with losing their job/ruining their career etc. There is always a problem with Union based activity in this country that it is legally hamstrung.

With something like temping and service industries this is exacerbated by the fact workers have no bargaining power. They're on short term contracts, can be replaced if they complain and have no incentive to stick their necks out (most of them plan on getting a permanent job in the near future and regard services/temping as a stop gap). Unionising would make no sense under these circumstances, particularly if it's done with militaristic intent because they'll get blacklisted for as far as they can see no good reason. They don't see it as their industry and they see themselves as competing with everybody else in the short term for extra cash.

Something like a temping co-op would be far more attractive and practical, because it is putting more money directly in people's pockets and they thus have a direct stake in keeping it running even if they don't plan to stay long. Militaristic activity could concievably follow, if you radicalised enough of the workforce, and would be made easier from a legal perspecive because there would be no official union activity, just a business shutting its doors for a while.

brizzul
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Apr 13 2004 00:16
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Revolutionary unions do not Employ their workers, they do not give wages out liek you are suggesting

The IWW set up at least one hiring hall (a sort of temp agency) earlier in the century and they were/are a revolutionary union. In those days you couldn't get on a freight train or work on most ships if you didn't hold a red card, again controlling the hiring.

Incidentally everyone who took a freight train (season agricultural workers and migrants) or worked on ships was a casual (a temp), so tactics for organising temps were in use for many years, years ago.

brizzul
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Apr 13 2004 00:41

There are a lot of issues here and these issues are causing a lot of concern and thought.

Saii wrote:
UK law is well set up to deal with large unions, has been for decades.

Currently if a union wants to strike and doesn't want horrific fines imposed,

You're highly unlikely to get strike pay anyway in most disputes. Therefore sack your bureacrats and spend all your funds. Better still join/form an anarchosyndicalist union and bury the money in someone's back garden.

Saii wrote:

branches closed down and its leaders imprisoned it has to submit plans for a strike a month in advance to the police, government and employers (!), map out exactly what will be happening, prevent affected members from doing any unlicenced picketing, prevent illegal 'secondary' action from its other members and do several ballots. All this gives employers plenty of time to go to individuals and threaten them with losing their job/ruining their career etc. There is always a problem with Union based activity in this country that it is legally hamstrung.

You can do all of these things and win. However, there are many tactics for getting around this, the point is don't leave your struggle in the charge of your regional office. You must "innoculate" your fellow workers against the tactics used by the bosses so work out what the bosses are going to say and do and tell everyone. Tell everyone what is really going on. It'll make you look smart and one step ahead of the bastards when you predict everything they do. Everyone knows even to this day that if everyone sticks together we can win. People just need the confidence to go ahead and do it.

Saii wrote:

With something like temping and service industries this is exacerbated by the fact workers have no bargaining power.

By walking off the job they have the greatest power on earth. Now all they have to do is keep scabs away.

Saii wrote:
Militaristic activity could concievably follow, if you radicalised enough of the workforce, and would be made easier from a legal perspecive because there would be no official union activity, just a business shutting its doors for a while.

By shutting your doors (do you mean a strike by other means?) you are in breach of contract - so you get sued just like a union.

brizzul
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Apr 13 2004 00:58
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:
No kind of union is working now in the temp trade at all -- bureaucratic or anarcho-syndiacalist. Why is this?.

The GMB organises sex workers (highly casualised) which is as cool as fuck in my book.

Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:
I think it's not just because people haven't got around to it, it's because the leverage that temps have is so small.

If all a trade union wants to do is take industrial tribunals to solve disputes then you are right. Which you are. A branch full of temps that is militant and has good shop stewards that is prepared to do what is necessary then you have exactly the same chances of winning IMHO as a branch full of full timers.

As anarchists we should still be talking about direct action even though we are talking about the world of work.

Mystic
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Apr 13 2004 08:47

cantdocartwheels: I hate temp agencies, must be on the books of at least 10, it would be cool if a huge temp union could be set up but in the mean time what the hell would be wrong with some of us trying to organise ourselves against the employers? Or do you reckon I should stay with the shitty agencies I'm with right now to avoid forming a volunteer co-op to negotiate and being a "bourgeois liberal" roll eyes? Anyway, unions may be better to fight the bosses with, but in the long run it's surely co-ops we're looking to set up anyway (what's the point in unions when there are no bosses?), so I don't think you can dismiss co-ops so lightly, they're the future.

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Rob Ray
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Apr 13 2004 09:48

Soz brizzul should have said, I'm actually very pro setting up an Anarchist union, I just don't think many temps are likely to be interested in fucking up their future job prospects by starting one to help out a group of people they don't identify with.

Quote:
By walking off the job they have the greatest power on earth. Now all they have to do is keep scabs away.

\

Wow that easy huh roll eyes

Quote:
By shutting your doors (do you mean a strike by other means?) you are in breach of contract - so you get sued just like a union.

Not sure that's the case in temp agency work. Afaik there's often no formal long term contracts between big employers and temp agencies. Mostly when I've been to agencies they spend a great deal of their time phoning round the local businesses asking if there's any work available for their workers. This would suggest that they aren't tied into anything and work on a week-to-week basis.

If that were the case you wouldn't be breaking any contracts whatsoever by closing your doors, you'd simply cease active trading for a short period. The workers themselves wouldn't be open to blame because they can quite happily claim to be victims of circumstance (it ain't my fault the place has closed down guv, I'm far too stupid to be expected to find some other way of getting work wink).

brizzul
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Apr 14 2004 22:06
Saii wrote:
Soz brizzul should have said, I'm actually very pro setting up an Anarchist union, I just don't think many temps are likely to be interested in fucking up their future job prospects by starting one to help out a group of people they don't identify with.
Quote:
By walking off the job they have the greatest power on earth. Now all they have to do is keep scabs away.

\

Wow that easy huh roll eyes

Yep, that easy.

Quote:
By shutting your doors (do you mean a strike by other means?) you are in breach of contract - so you get sued just like a union.
Saii wrote:
Not sure that's the case in temp agency work. Afaik there's often no formal long term contracts between big employers and temp agencies.

They may not be long term but they are formal and you will be sued for breaking them. If you stopped providing workers the employer will go elsewhere & you have scabbing problems again. I'm not totally against this, mind, just pointing out some stuff. By the way all this was talked about 6 months ago there was loads of excitement but nothing came of it.

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Rob Ray
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Apr 15 2004 11:01
Quote:
They may not be long term but they are formal and you will be sued for breaking them.

I'm not talking about breaking any short term contracts either. Assuming the contracts are done on a weekly basis all you'd need to do is refuse new business and allow whatever agreements you've already made to run out naturally, then let it be known that you'll open for business again only when demands have been met.

Quote:
If you stopped providing workers the employer will go elsewhere & you have scabbing problems again.

I did say that militaristic behaviour would only work following large scale radicalisation of the workforce. In order for this sort of action to be viable you'd need the vast majority of local temps to already be part of a (or a series of friendly) co-op(s) and to have run the competing employment agencies out of business. It's a long term (years, maybe decades long) strategy not something you can do three days after starting up. Sorry if that was unclear I thought I'd already implied it.

Quote:
By the way all this was talked about 6 months ago there was loads of excitement but nothing came of it.

That's cos it's a damn good idea but no-one has the manpower or time to make any headway. You'd need to poach several dozen (maybe more) reliable agency workers just to start it up, and you'd almost certainly need a couple of industry insiders to work up a client list. It'd take a hell of a lot of time to get all that together and it's very risky for any individuals trying to organise it.