What a year 2018 has been for the IWW! As we reach the end of the year in which we broke the 2000 member barrier, we wanted to spend some time reflecting on what has been a huge year for the IWW in Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England. Below, we have collated some of the highlights of the year so as to recognise some of our achievements, our shared struggles with workers across the globe, and to look towards another 12 months which promises to be better than the last!
An Injury to One is an Injury to All
The IWW has always been – and always will be – and internationalist union, and 2018 saw no change to that outlook. The Union is always ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with workers across the globe suffering the slings and arrows of governments, corporations and those who seek to attack those most vulnerable in our communities.
IWW – Solidarity with Swedish Workers
In December, in response to attacks on workers rights in Sweden, the IWW expressed it’s solidarity with workers in the country fighting the Swedish government who, in collaboration with big business and mainstream trade unions, are proposing legislation that would severely restrict the right of workers to take industrial action in defence of their interests.
Solidarity with the Stansted 15
On March 28th 2017, 15 activists blocked the deportation of detainees to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone by locking themselves together surrounding a plane, and preventing it from reaching the runway. This was a charter flight – a flight booked by the Home Office, then filled with migrants who have been detained in prison-like detention and removal centres.
In a gross act of injustice the activists – one of whom is a longstanding member of our union – were found guilty of offences under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act which carry lengthy prison sentences. We are proud as an organisation to stand with our comrades – and all like them – who are fighting for justice and risk their liberty to safeguard our own.
IWW Education Workers tell UCU rank and file – #NoCapitulation!
Earlier this year, the rank and file of the UCU were engaged in a brutal struggle against devastating pension cuts to academic and academic-related staff in pre-92 UK universities. As was well documented at the time, it was widely felt by the UCU membership, and our own dual carder members, that the ACAS-mediated negotiations were effectively an exercise in pulling the rug from under the strikers. The IWW stood with rank and file members then, and would do today. We are a union run by members, for members and such a disregard for the wishes of the very members that make up an organisation should not be tolerated.
IWW Cymru links with Spanish union for international protest!
Members of the Welsh branch of the IWW worked with the Spanish union Sindicato Andaluz de Trabajadores, to raise the case of workers in Seville, who have been made redundant unfairly and who face cuts to their commission rates despite Admiral Group’s booming balance sheet. By picketing outside of the companies Head Office in Cardiff, the IWW was able to extend practical solidarity – and generate some rather poor exposure – for Admiral related to their shoddy practices!
Taking on the gig-economy giants
Any review of the IWW in 2018 would have to take note of the amazing work the union and its members have done in bringing a fresh impetus to organising in the gig-economy through the IWW Couriers Network. Having only started in January of this year the IWW Couriers Network has only grown from strength to strength as the year has progressed, expanding across cities all across the UK and Ireland. From Glasgow to London, to Cardiff and Dublin the network can now boast branches in most major cities!
Not content with just growing their presence on the ground, the IWW Couriers Network has also taken the fight to the poster-boys of the sham gig-economy by taking up arms against Deliveroo and Uber at several points throughout the year. From pressurising Deliveroo to change its prejudicial policies against sex workers, organising and fighting the cause for victims of Deliveroo’s mass sackings just days before Christmas to organising the first national couriers strike in the world (we think!) the IWW Couriers Network is a shining example of just what a group of committed workers can do if they organise themselves, on their terms and in their way – roll on 2019!
A union of members, for members
The IWW is a grass-roots fighting Union with branches all over the UK and Ireland. Our union is made up of its members with no paid officials or bureaucrats dictating policy. As such, our members fight harder than most to defend themselves and each other when the need arises. Employers beware – if an IWW rep turns up to take you on for attacking one of our own, you better be ready for one hell of a fight!
IWW gets the goods for MPH/Amazon couriers!!
The London branch of the IWW were contacted after the MPH England tried to withhold three weeks wages for one of the drivers, along with a total of £560 and £670 for alleged damages in two other cases! After receiving contact, London IWW swept into action, contacting the Agency on the workers behalf, highlighting the illegal nature of withholding wages and the spurious deductions for ‘damages’ incurred. Following contact from the union, the Agency swiftly paid up and returned the money to the workers!
Bristol IWW defending whistle blowers and free speech in Bristol City Council
In March 2018 an IWW member working in Child Protection for Bristol City Council (BCC) was suspended from his post. He was charged with issues under the code of conduct, and most of the first set of allegations against him related to a closed Labour Party Facebook page. What followed was a long and furious response from the IWW branch in Bristol, and After 8 ½ months on suspension, 15 allegations, the employment of 2 external consultants, and hundreds of officer’s hours (all at a great cost to the tax payers of the city), he won his hearing, as everything was unfounded!
IWW Secures Hour-Long Breaks for Hotel Workers in Warrington!
On Friday 13th July, Front of House workers at a hotel in Warrington were called into a general monthly meeting with management to discuss new policies and workplace regimes. By working together, the IWW were able to secure hour-long breaks for workers on 12 hour shifts and present a series of further demands to management to rectify some of the issues affecting members of staff!
IWW welcomes its newest branch!
After regular outreach in the town and tireless work in organising logistics workers in the area, workers in the Northampton and Warwickshire area are now able to boast of being the latest group of workers to join together and form a branch of the IWW!
There are already lots of great things happening in the area and we have no doubt that 2019 is going to be a bumper year for some of the hardest working members of our union!
IWW help bar worker win £700 in unpaid holiday pay!
“Thank you so much for your help and advice. Definitely would not have got it without your guidance. I will definitely be passing on details of your organisation to other hospitality workers.” – Marie, bar worker.
Working with Manchester IWW, Marie won £700 unpaid holiday pay. When she left her job at a popular Northern Quarter Bar, she was told she wouldn’t receive the holiday pay she’d earned whilst working there that she hadn’t taken. Upon hearing this, she contacted us on our phone line, and together with a rep she developed a plan to get her get her pay back!
2018 was also the year we lost some dear friends, with the sad passing of Peter Ridpath, a tireless campaigner for workers rights and also Anna Campbell, who was killed by Turkish forces while fighting alongside Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) in the defence of Afrin. They are sorely missed by all that knew them and we continue to fight in their memory – Rest in Power comrades.
Looking towards the future…
2018 was a year in which the IWW stepped up a gear – and 2019 looks like it will be equally as action packed! Our union is built by its members – through them and by them it shows its strength. We don’t expect it will be an easy ride, but it will be one fought with grit and determination in all four corners of these islands.
In these times of uncertainty we all need something to rely on, and in these times you can count on only one thing – the solidarity of your comrades to fight with you through thick and thin!!
Divided we are weak, united we are strong – join the IWW today and fight for a new world in the shell of the old!
An Injury to one is an Injury to all!!