Tomorrow up to 2 million workers across the UK will take a stand for better lives. If that's not something for a union like ACORN - or anyone concerned about social justice - to write home about, then what is?
Being busy organising a 1000 strong campaign against rip-off tenancy fees and insecure renting (i.e. some of the key housing issues affecting the low and moderately paid), ACORN members have not had a chance to discuss this. So, as a staff member, Im going out on a limb writing this. I'll be running it past a meeting of Easton ACORN leaders tonight, and hoping they don't want to sack me afterwards. I havent even had time to ask my colleagues (sorry guys). But it's got to be said:
Tomorrow, July 10th 2014, up to 2 million dinner ladies, teachers, office workers, firemen, road sweepers, teaching assistants, binmen, cleaners, social workers, railway engineers and others will be on strike against the 1% pay "rise" offered by their employers.
Damn right, their strike is for money - and the media will rant and rave about their greed. The greed of mums and dads across the country (1 in 4 - a quarter! - according to this new study) who skimp on food to feed their kids. The greed of of the majority of classified "poor" people who actually have a job. The greed of the 1 in 6 paid workers who are living in poverty. The greed of a nation of workers who have seen poverty double to 33% since 1983, while the pay of the top bosses has increased 40% in the last 4 years and while the wealth of the richest people increased 15% in the last year alone.
Greed?! No, its dignity. It's courage. It's being pushed to the limit. It's the age old necessity and ability of workers to collectively stand up for what is right.
Before I worked for ACORN, I worked for UNISON, Britains biggest public service union, and I organised a campaign of school support staff in Buckinghamshire. They were 90% women, some of the liveliest, funniest, most caring and strongest people I have ever met. And their employer, the wealthy Bucks County Council, was offering them 0%. Nothing. Again. Over the preceding 4 years, their pay had effectively gone down nearly 20% as the cost of living (rent, food, bills etc) increased. Our campaign won a 1% pay rise, maybe £90 each.
But tomorrow, quite rightly, up to 2 million people will stand up and say that no, that is not right. If, as the guy who writes the Times Rich List has said, "the rich have had an astonishing year", then a 1% pay "rise" (effectively a pay drop in real terms) for the people we all look up to and rely on, not to mention that live next door to us and are ACORN members, is not ok.
This article is spot on, and says it all much better than me. Tomorrow's strikers fight for us all, and should be celebrated.
The article is also right that the union movement needs to urgently include communities and workers - the millions in the service sector - who are not yet organised to express a united collective voice.
On that note, there is also a demonstration tomorrow to support ACORN Easton's co-chair Mat Alborough who has been unfairly sacked by his unscrupulous service sector employer. His union, the IWW, has called for a small march and picket of his shop and they are meeting at 4.30pm on College Green. Call or text me for info on 07445 804197.
ACORN is a union. We might be community based, instead of workplace based, but the idea is the same. A mass-membership organisation, uniting low and moderate income people, to have and use a power we don't have on our own, to improve our lives.
So I say 3 cheers for the 2 million. Now, lets get everyone involved.
If you want to join is, ACORN organisers will be on tomorrows Bristol strike march and rally, encouraging striking workers to also join ACORN organising and campaigning in our communities. We will be meeting at 10.30am at College Green, ring Nick on 07739195008
There is also a demo for ACORN Co-Chair Mat who has been unfairly sacked, meeting also on College Green at 4.30pm. Call Nick for info on that too.