Re-building an independent working class organisation requires mundane steps. It requires discussing the ‘trade union question’. It requires building local groups. It requires visits like the one below.
Went on my own so was difficult to speak with as many drivers. I went with our new flyer, which is also in Romanian and Bulgarian. Had a positive chat with a Romanian and African guy at the start. They’ve been there a while and have talked previously about needing a union. One of them had heard of the unions in other countries and said there they had caps on parcel numbers. Dont know if thats true or not. Spoke with two otherRomanians, sympathetic but typical line of Amazon being a big company, what can they do. Felt that the contractor companies should join together. One of the Romanians had a woman helping him in his van, perhaps his partner. I think they owned the van, which helps in terms of pay, but that means that two of them are working for a single ‘wage’. Crazy.
Spoke with another guy, also EU migrant, who was very enthusiastic about doing stuff, gave me his number and said he has tried to complain lots. But he also complained that the ‘foreigners’ like the Romanians, not him, were doubling up for shifts and he can’t compete with that. He understood why and why Amazon go for them etc. So he wasn’t too bad, just juggling the various facts before him. It’s a pretty fucking troubling development if there are more cases like this of people doubling.
Elsehwhere I spoke to a decent Polish guy, Portuguese and African guy. All enthusiastic. One of them said last week after deductions he got £170 for four days. He said one time he got £74 for a week’s work. He lost his job when pandemic hit and says he has no choice. He said he’s tried to unite people and liked this idea. He took a load of flyers ‘to give to the other black boys’. Polish guy also lost job managing a restaurant in town. Has no time to look for restaurant jobs now as has wife and two young kids at home. Portuguese guy said London is insane, everyone tries ‘to suck you’. As in steal. Spoke to an English guy I’ve seen before who works 7 days a week and has quit 3 times so far but keeps getting persuaded to return. One guy we were in touch with has quit. Said he couldnt take it. Worked 36 hours the other week and was paid £170 after deductions. Everyone knows they often work for less than minimum wage….
The main takeways overall were that the unemployment shadow looms large compared to last time I went in early July. People all spoke about having to work and lack of options. The other thing was people were speaking about ‘a union’ more than previously. Could be coincidence. Could be that unions have been in the news more. The idea came up lots of ‘an external organiser’ and ‘an organisation’ then they say people would have confidence…