Tue, 29/03/2011 - 23:08

Report from Solidarity Federation's Workplace Organiser Training

In the face of the media storm over the protest on March 26, it’s important for all of us involved in fighting austerity to take a step back, whether we think the occupations and property destruction were useful or not. Ultimately, whatever their worth, it’s not through riots or occupations that we can defeat austerity. Only by causing economic disruption, and making it more expensive to carry through with the cuts than to make us concessions, will we win. And where we have the most power over the economy is in the workplace. It’s our work that makes up society and if we withdraw it by striking, or take other forms of direct action such as go-slows or work-to-rule’s, we – the working class – can call the shots and stop this attack on our class!

On that note, this is a report from a member of Thames Valley Solidarity Federation who went on the workplace organiser training. The training is a day-course offered by the Solidarity Federation to anyone who wants  to take part – the course is pretty much apolitical, and you don’t have to agree with our politics or anything to take part! The training is the nuts and bolts of organising and should appeal to anyone who's unhappy with their life at work. Topics include: mapping your workplace, collectivising grievances, cross-union activity and types of direct action. Please invite and feel free to tell anyone who might be interested in the training.

There are sessions in London and in the Thames Valley (in either Reading or Oxford) coming up in the near future (but we’ll come to you wherever, within reason!), so get in touch at training @ solfed.org.uk.

“I've just got back from the Bristol Workplace Organiser Training session. It was a long day but well and truly worth it.


The actual content of the training is really very good. It's not really 'political' at all in the sense that we're probably used to the term, but instead the Solidarity Federation's politics come through in the practicalities of the course.


For example, one of the things that came up in the training was what if, during a one to one conversation with a workmate, they say that sorting a grievance is 'the union's business'? The training isn't about arguing why we should organise ourselves in a kind of abstract way, but about figuring out the kind of responses you can give as part of that specific conversation with your workmate.


As the trainer described it, the training is there to give you a 'toolbox' from which you can pick the appropriate thing at the appropriate time. It was interesting that we had several public sector unionised workers along with several private sector non-unionised workers. That was interesting as part of the day was spent discussing how the two types of workplaces differ and how that affects any attempt to organise.


Also covered were things such as physical and social workplace mapping, dealing with and preparing for the inevitable management response, workplace committee meetings, etc. The role-plays, though slightly awkward to begin with, turned out to be really useful ways to take the points being made and put them into a context that felt slightly more 'real'. The exact details of the course are far too deep to go into here, but I'll just say that the training is well, well worth it. I'd advise anybody interested in getting organised at work to try and get it as soon as they can.


Other than that, it was a great day out. It was nice to meet my fellow workers on the training (we all went for a couple of pints after the training was done). I certainly learnt a lot that I intend to carry with me into the workplace.”