The 2 May, a day of reflection on the working conditions in the Community was organized by organisms at the bottom of the ladder, the popular Training Center and the sectoral grouping of community organizations in Montreal (RIOCM).
We were three members of the Community Committee of the IWW Montreal to attend. It was an interesting day and well organized. There was material to brainstorm ideas with more than a hundred people. Congratulations to the transition to the organization. Several proposals have been put forward; we will mention some, explaining the pros and cons, and issuing certain criticisms we hope constructive.
Three workshops framed discussions : labor conditions, the work-life and the workplace. The issues raised were mainly lack of funding (mostly), overwork, les burnouts, the large staff turnover, martyr culture, the few links of e-s-employee with their board, sexism in the workplace, la bureaucratisation, project funding (and thus insecurity), etc.
Those are, in sum, problems that most of us who work in the community and have already seen weighing on our shoulders every day.
Before moving forward, an aside is necessary to explain the context of discussions. We said, a hundred people were present. However the majority of these people were either in leadership positions, coordination with a power of hiring and dismissal or board member of directors. That is to say that we were talking about our working conditions with boss. Bosses obviously conscious of their employee-e-s (and suffer themselves and themselves some of the issues discussed), but the boss still. And the discussions were tinted.
Also, to be clear : reflections and critical that we bring here are ours, those unionists.
Calling versus employment
Several people mentioned : there is a culture of martyrdom in community organizations. That of not including overtime, to accept the often precarious conditions, And this, just because our work is a care. We work with the world of precarious and often messed up, our work is essential. Somewhat the same speech that is served to nurses and called women's jobs. A random? Probably not. It is often also said that the EU is a work '' militant ''. The boundary between work and activism is not always clear. It is common to see people overwork at work on this basis, that '' because '' is worth a couple of unpaid overtime!
Interesting proposals have emerged. Deconstructing this speech first. Explain the nature of our jobs, to denounce these situations overwork, just as the health care workers have for months with strength, either via public texts or videos. Refusing to do more (with less means).
An expression is however emerged repeatedly from the mouth of managers or directors of organizations, is the need to "educate their employee-s in overtime". Manner of providing the fault of overtime on the shoulders of the employee-s, but neither on directions or the structure of organizations, and even less on donors. If employers accept imposed performance requirements donors, knowing we often "low staff", it is inconsistent to require e-s-employee to provide the same services, but in less time.
Funding, bureaucracy and paperwork
Sure, the main issue remains : under-funding and project funding. Some people have raised the possibility of pressuring the political parties in the context of election campaigns. Trying again to strike the Community, perhaps with clearer objectives and decentralized than the aborted 7 February. And look more broadly and talk more. But above all to mobilize the very foundations of organizations : either the employee-e-s!
[On this subject, a personal story and a parallel with the Retreat : nowadays, very little employee-s organizations with a health mandate and social services (Such prevention of STIs) I talk to had heard of this missed strike 7 February. As few of my colleagues intervention had heard of this day of reflection on our working conditions. Visibly, if these are the coordos directions or who receive an invitation to talk about workplace conditions, there is little chance of that is transmitted to the employee-s. Imagine then speak to strike ...]
In terms of insecurity issues related to project funding rather than mission, few solutions have been put forward, Furthermore to make a strike Claim. We have mentioned a few times to tackle some private donors such as the United, who actively participate in the entrepreneurial culture, but no one picked up the ball, which in itself speaks volumes about the lack of analysis we have our own "industry" working.
Be heard as workers
An announcement was made, namely that a national association and workers Community workers would be created in the coming months. Few details were unveiled. As the creation of meeting has not taken place, it is difficult to say what its mandate, but we suspect that this will be our rights, to demand better funding, etc.
By asking a few questions in the following weeks to people involved in its creation, we have some, or concerns, but the project still interests us.
Already, have a space where propose actions, where share and talk about our working conditions is interesting in itself. Can come together is almost a luxury, considering all the tasks and we weigh. This will definitely be a project in which it may organize actions on trades that we.
However, some concerns remain. First, that will be part? Will be qualified-e-s Workers people who have hiring and dismissal powers within our bodies? Suppose we begin to talk about organizing, are we going to face an internal group that fiercely oppose it? Or simply to speak of self-management, internal conflicts, power relations within our bodies ... Will speak are we working conditions or just general underfunding? The question is valid.
Trade union solidarity and self-management
Sure, we preached for several solutions like us. Against some reluctance to join unions under a traditional model, we talked about putting forward a solidarity unionism. Namely mobilize, We base, by and for ourselves, so not only talk about underfunding, but also to bring up to date the self in community organizations in which we work. But also to be able to address issues such as harassment, the employee-s reports versus directions / boards, etc. This is why our trade unionism is voluntary, to enable people to be heard according to their needs.
We mentioned the importance of not remain impassive when an organization is cut. And I believe that this goal remains for us one of our key mandates : asserting solidarity among people working in the Community. Because it is together that we have a balance of power and that we can protect our bodies.
in short, it was an interesting meeting. We hope it will not be an isolated exercise, and it will be followed by a more general and broader. Organizations that have started organized something important, we hope it continues and that it be given suites.
The meeting was after all the Community Image : we are well aware of the problems we are experiencing, we have a good idea of the solutions within our reach, but taking action is unclear, or uncertain.
Anyway, our side, we will provide all the help we can in our midst colleagues, and we invite them to contact us. The more we are many and many, more our voice will.
An injury to one, an injury to all!
Members of the union workers and community workers.