Organising Workplace Activism

This blog has made the case for workplace activism, progressively turning our workplaces into what Peter Joseph of The Zeitgeist Movement calls “Multidisciplinary Teams”, and that the development of a Resource Based Economy will follow. How do we begin to organise this in the workplace? There is a process.

Unity in action is central to successful workplace activism. While we will likely not win our coworkers to the theoretical goal of a Resource Based Economy, we can win them to more conservative and immediate goals; A contract for yearly pay rises, safer work conditions, some issue that motivates our coworkers.

These demands upon employers are best won by workers refusing to work, blockading their workplaces instead, until they win. The participation of student movements and community activists may aid the blockade, especially helpful to smaller workplaces. Sometimes an organised threat to strike in negotiation may be enough.

When a goal is won there likely becomes greater confidence, organisation and membership density in the workplace. We can build towards bigger goals over time, like a shorter working day, these are small steps. During economic crisis workers may be especially motivated. When workers strike they can see that its there labour which makes the economy, and with it they can unmake it and remake it.

The strength of workers’ strikes can be amplified when other workplaces strike in support, or sometimes workers’ demands are industry-wide, or nationwide demands upon the government. This kind of cooperation not only wins, but teaches the workers of the necessity for mass cooperation to achieve anything. Positive social values develop best through this kind of experience.

How do we coordinate and arrive at decisions on the scale of an entire nation’s industry? One accountable way is by delegation. Once those in a given workplace arrive at their position on a topic relating beyond their workplace, they select someone who would best relay and debate their view among delegates from other workplaces in the industry.

Delegates are not politicians but coworkers known personally by those who elect them. They receive no special privileges, are affected by the a decision’s outcome just as everyone else and may be recalled and replaced by their coworkers at any time. This is the structure by which most workers’ unions operate.

Unions also develop a bureaucracy, a professional mediating layer between workers/delegates and their employers. This can discourage workers’ direct action because it is their job to come to resolve by negotiation. Direct action always wins the best results and better develops a cooperative culture.

Bureaucrats may even sell out, leaving it up to delegates’ and workers’ self-organisation and action to achieve successes. Delegate’s meetings provide opportunity for delegates to network with other delegates, thereby undermining bureaucracy and creating opportunity for delegates to argue for workers’ industry-wide or nation-wide actions.

Workplaces are dictatorships only to the degree that we remain subservient and divided. When we unite in our workplaces we can go even further than placing demands upon our employers and governments. We can begin taking matters into our own hands, using the resources of our workplaces to achieve certain ends, the ultimate end being a Resource Based Economy.

Forward Movement for updates


Comments Off on Organising Workplace Activism

Filed under 2) Activism Theory

Comments are closed.