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Tactics for Temps

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LiveFastDiarrea
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Joined: 19-09-03
Apr 15 2004 21:12

I've worked for 2 differant temping agencies and all you need to do to be out of contract with them is say no, I can't work today, and I wont be able to work ever again. least thats all I did.

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pingtiao
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Apr 16 2004 09:56

On the formal contract thing, as far as I know the Businesses sign contracts with theagencies that commit them to giving ALL their short-term contract work to those agencies. The place I work at has, AFAIK, 3 agencies serving it, with all temporary workers employed though them. Most other places I've worked have single-agency agreements.

Not sure how this informs the legal debate though. As far as I know, if the workers strike, then it is only the workers who can be held accountable.

To be honest, I don't see this working at all. The job of getting a profile amongst companies, getting any of these work contracts and of maintaining an office is very much a full time one, requiring a paid strata of individuals. I can see it deteriorating into just a self-managed exploitation arrangement at best, or at worst changing into a normal temp agency as the power invested in those who organise it corrupts them, or the stark realities of capital pressures impose harsh limits on viable action.

Brizzle: hat is SolFed up to on this front? If there is no other serious temp union, isn't this the perfect place for anarcho-syndicalists to be organising? Historically, you have had alot of trouble getting in on the job-sectors that the reformist unions dominated, but with the rise of casualisation you are perfectly placed ideologically and tactically to start organising.

red n black star

AlexA
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Apr 16 2004 10:48

A big problem here of course is that we couldn't organise a specifically *anarchist* union, cos hardly any temps are anarchists.

I would love to see something like the Italian Base unions set up here, which aren't anarchist but are organised anarchistically, but this seems like it'd be beyond us at present...

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pingtiao
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Apr 16 2004 10:51

why do you think that is?

And were all the casual workers the IWW organised anarchists? I think not

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Rob Ray
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Apr 16 2004 15:25
Quote:
why do you think that is?

Ah wait I know this one... is it cos we're a tiny minority with an astoundingly bad reputation in a nation dominated by small c conservatism?

Quote:
To be honest, I don't see this working at all. The job of getting a profile amongst companies, getting any of these work contracts and of maintaining an office is very much a full time one, requiring a paid strata of individuals...

I'm not sure that's the case. A major factor of temp work is you are often waiting for jobs to turn up, during which time you could easily be a full time helper at a co-op. Not everyone is employed at the same time (if they were, what need for an agency in the first place?) and anyone not working should be expected to act on behalf of the co-op.

I agree if they were paid to do so the co-op would have to start organising wage systems, keep books etc, there would then be no incentive for people to find work and it would almost certainly deteriorate into a small number of full time organisers taking control. The simple way around that is to make the co-op work unpaid, so people doing it are aware that if they don't find work round the place they don't get wages. And because employers usually want several people at once, what one person finds will often be useful to the group as a whole.

What do you mean by viable action? If you mean strikework etc, I'll point to earlier posts and say again that this wouldn't primarily be a means to militarise temping, but a means to cut out the middle man and drive up wages that way. Perhaps after several years if you had organised the vast majority of temps in a series of affiliated co-ops something could be done via those groups, but initially militant action would only serve to make them an easy target for business to destroy.

brizzul
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Apr 18 2004 21:38
pingtiao wrote:

Brizzle: hat is SolFed up to on this front? If there is no other serious temp union, isn't this the perfect place for anarcho-syndicalists to be organising?

Bear in mind, though, the legal rights of permanents are little better which is why we see no distinction between any type of worker. Solfed activists try hard to build assemblies of all workers in a firm: casual, temp, permanent, manual & white collar wether within a trade union or not.

SolFed is arguing against casualisation as a trend as well in a political way via leaflets and publications.

pingtiao wrote:

Historically, you have had alot of trouble getting in on the job-sectors that the reformist unions dominated, but with the rise of casualisation you are perfectly placed ideologically and tactically to start organising.

red n black star

Aren't we just?. Especially with the union fat cats stitching everyone up left, right and center arguments can be made for revolutionary rank-and-file structures undermining the disastrous influence of "democratic" union structures. But before we get too excited we have to remember that the number of anarchists interested in class war on the work front number only in the hundreds (in the UK). We're all plugging away in our own workplaces but how do we make the leap to being a proper union/workers' councils/assemblies/network?

brizzul
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Apr 18 2004 22:18
alexa wrote:
A big problem here of course is that we couldn't organise a specifically *anarchist* union, cos hardly any temps are anarchists.

This is my own opinion and not official:

You don't IMHO have to be an Anarchist to join SolFed. You only need to agree with our aims and principals and not be a cop or the owner of a firm. The rest can be learn't later naturally through solving everyday problems together with your work mates

I would argue that it's hard to become an anarchosyndicalist without joining a federation (though I'm not slagging anyone who hasn't for any good reason) which makes it a bit chicken and egg. Thankfully this isn't a philosophical excercise but a serious attempt to encourage the wider workforce to join us in having a go & to support others confronting the state and other bosses. A/S should spring and be developed from the everyday struggle of everyday people.

alexa wrote:

I would love to see something like the Italian Base unions set up here, which aren't anarchist but are organised anarchistically, but this seems like it'd be beyond us at present...

Most of the italian base unions are dominated by libertarian marxist activists (autonomists in particular) apart from USI - AIT which is anarchosyndicalist. By not mentioning their politics doesn't mean they aren't political.

This stuff is being discussed all the time and it's a little hard to describe where I stand on this on a web site. It's a lot easier to explain A/S as I see it face to face.

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Steven.
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Apr 18 2004 22:33
pingtiao wrote:
why do you think that is?

And were all the casual workers the IWW organised anarchists? I think not

I would think quite a lot of them would have agreed with "the abolition of wage slavey". But then they were different times, there's not mass w/c opposition to capitalism now, and anti-capitalism is quite off-putting to a lot of people.

Brizzul I'm aware of the people involved in the base unions - it just seems like it's good for libertarians to work on 2 levels: 1 within revolutionary organisations, and 2 within libertarian-organised, self-managed groups which are not explicitly revolutionary. So there is anarchism in action within the group - y'know, workers' self-organisation, direct action etc. but anyone is free to get involved regardless of their politics (cos our interests as workers still co-incide).

Er, I'm tired so sorry if rambling

brizzul
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Apr 19 2004 23:04
Steven. wrote:
Brizzul I'm aware of the people involved in the base unions - it just seems like it's good for libertarians to work on 2 levels: 1 within revolutionary organisations, and 2 within libertarian-organised, self-managed groups which are not explicitly revolutionary. So there is anarchism in action within the group - y'know, workers' self-organisation, direct action etc. but anyone is free to get involved regardless of their politics (cos our interests as workers still co-incide).

Er, I'm tired so sorry if rambling

I'm sticking my neck out a bit here and this is only my own opinion but what you just described is roughly syndicalist IMHO. Others are entitled to disagree. Of course it'd have to be focused on the real needs of us the masses and not on the moral horror fantasies of dropped out delitants. I'd argue that self managed organisations that challenge capitalist organisation of society and hope to transform it radically *are* revolutionary so we don't need to split the day-to-day fighting organisation and the revolutionary one.

Of course this is the main sticking point between platformists/councillists and syndicalists.

Mike Harman
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Joined: 7-02-06
May 8 2004 16:09

I temped for well over a year for about three-four different agencies. It's well known that the costs to a company for hiring a temp are often close to double what the temp gets paid. So say the temp gets £8/hour and the agency gets £15 an hour, that leaves £7 to both compete against other agencies and pay higher wages. Ltd. companies can be bought for £20, easy to get someone to make a decent looking website and SEO it.

If you were, for instance, taking £2 off that £15 quid charge to companies, and adding £5 to the wage of a temp, you'd be looking at the companies gettinga 13% discount, and temps getting an instant 62.5% pay increase for the same work. Easy that way to get reliable temps to join if they're getting £13 an hour instead of £8. If people are able to earn more in less time, contribution to a co-op would likely arise out of self-interest, and certainly anyone remotely sympathetic could be expected to support it. If it was web-based, it'd be easy to set up an e-mail booking system that wouldn't require an office to be manned all the time - so people volunteering could work from home.