“We want to build a peer-to-peer network that can help people to find what works to build power in their workplace. We know that there is not “one model” to getting organised at work, but there is experience in the labour movement that can help.”
By Organise Now!
Organise Now! is a new project with a simple aim: to help people start organising at work. We put workers in contact with experienced coaches who can help them take the first steps to getting organised. Launched by Strike Map, BFAWU, and Notes from Below, the aim is to share organising knowledge and provide a first point of contact for workers who want to get involved with the labour movement.
The majority of workers in Britain today are not, and have never been, members of a trade union. There are large parts of the workforce in which workers do not have the protection of collective agreements or bargaining. This means that many workers are facing issues like bullying, harassment, poor conditions, low pay, and wage theft, with few options to fight these collectively.
We are facing a huge attack on terms and conditions across the country, particularly as inflation and government policy is being used to tip the balance even further away from workers. The next few months will see the cost of living crisis continue, with many workers being made to bear the brunt of the crisis.
An increasing number of unions across Britain are planning or taking strike action. We have seen some of the biggest strikes of the last thirty years across post and the railways. The autumn could see schools, universities, and healthcare workers on strike. This kind of organised resistance is what is desperately needed, but we also need to get organised across more sectors.
This is why we started Organise Now! It takes inspiration from the Emergency Workplace Organising Committee (EWOC) in the US. Started by the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) and the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) during the covid pandemic, they connect workers who want to start organising with more experienced members of the labour movement.
We have adapted the EWOC model by developing a website with two forms. The first form is for workers who want to sign up for support. Within 72 hours, workers receive a call back from a volunteer and are then assigned a coach who can regularly call them. The second form is for volunteers who have experience in organising and want to get involved.
The aim of the project is to connect people in the labour movement who have some time to volunteer with workers who need support. We want to build a peer-to-peer network that can help people to find what works to build power in their workplace. We know that there is not “one model” to getting organised at work, but there is experience in the labour movement that can help.
We launched the project on the 24th of September at The World Transformed in Liverpool and have been signing people up since then. So far, we’ve had over a hundred volunteers sign up to coach workers. In terms of workers signing up, we’ve had people from sectors across the economy. In particular, of the workers we’ve helped so far 26% are from hospitality, 26% from health and social care, and 14% from education.
We’re still in the early stages of the project. There is still plenty to do as most of the workforce is unorganised or without any trade union representation. Over the coming months we are planning in-person days of action to flyer workplaces, training days, and more activities. There is no time like the present to get organised at work.
The next steps for the project are to keep reaching out to people who want support. This means we have two simple asks: if you want to get organised at work, then sign up on the website! If you’ve got experience in the labour movement and have some time to spare – even as little as one phone call every few weeks – then please sign up as a volunteer. It would also be helpful to share the website and social media with anyone you think might be interested.