Springingtiger's Blog


Solidarity Forever

 

I first joined my Trades Union thirty seven years ago, before that I had been a member of SOGAT and of COHSE. What allows Trades Unions to do their job is solidarity. When ordinary people come together in common cause they are strong and they can compel businesses and governments to make changes. Over the last thirty seven years I have watched the right of people to support each other being eroded by law after law that have curtailed the rights of ordinary people to act, but have allowed businesses an unfettered right do do as they please regardless of the cost to society.

It is not only the Trades Unions that have been affected. We have seen legitimate protests being prevented by council by-laws, by police action, access to parliamentarians restricted by new security measures. Prime Ministers cowering from the electorate behind the iron railings the Tories placed on the end of Downing Street to deny ordinary voters access. Protesters no longer allowed to march across Westminster Bridge, and where they do march their protests being split and trampled by police on horses.

It is small wonder that as the peoples voice is increasingly silenced by government and the media they turn to social media and in turn the establishment tries to silence them there as we saw recently with Wings Over Scotland. However social media allows ordinary people to act in solidarity, before a post can be censured from the airways it can be shared by millions, downloaded, archived and uploaded again and again to counter every attempt to suppress it.

Solidarity works against the powerful interests that seek to trample over small businesses and communities. Look at economic boycotts, they are so successful that governments put laws into place to prevent them, however if I refuse to buy the Sun newspaper or Israeli produce no one can force me to just as they couldn’t force me to buy South African during the apartheid era. It may be illegal for people awarding contracts to insist on compliance with the values and standards of the commissioning body in case it damages the profits of the company bidding for the work, it is not illegal for individuals to refuse to have anything to do with corrupt businesses and employers. Even if a company or government puts rules in place against industrial action they are powerless against people whose higher purpose empowers them to stand against unjust laws. True people can be jailed, but martyrs for a cause are as powerful as protest, just look at the outcome of jailing Gandhi and Mandela. In the face of injustice people need not back down, they can escalate their action until the system can no longer handle it. It may be possible to outlaw the withdrawal of labour in an organisation like, for example, the Health or Fire Service, but a government cannot prevent a mass resignation.

So far the progress of society has favoured the big organisations, the rich and the powerful. Red tape, delayed invoices and unnecessary paperwork can destroy small businesses. However when customers resist the blandishments of the big companies and their bulk purchasing power small businesses can survive and flourish. In some places local communities have returned to the spirit of the Cooperators and run their own local shops joining together to share the various tasks involved.

All it takes is a determination not to be bullied, but to take charge of ones own life. Sometimes all it takes is for people to stand up to the big companies that take them for granted to make them see sense and not take customers for granted. Little acts of solidarity matter which is why on the Twenty Fourth of September I will be in the audience of the Independent Masquerade at MCM in Glasgows SECC supporting the young cosplayers making a stand for their art. It’s not just in the big political things we need to support each other, but in everything that matters because they all are part of one tapestry and a small injustice here will encourage a greater elsewhere, just as importantly it will be fun! Solidarity Forever!

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