Organising around common interests gives collective strength to a group of workers. By joining together, we develop a power that gives us the ability, with our own hands and by taking direct action, to make our working life better. When we join a union we become what is often referred to as the “rank and file”. We are the union. Or we are meant to be.
Trade unions tend to have a structure that includes a bureaucratic layer, employed to carry out organising and administrative functions for the members. They are joined by elected representatives as the layer above the rank and file, often disconnected, but in control of resources, finances, administrative and decision making powers. Rank and file pay their dues but may have very little other involvement, unless elected as delegates or reps, to help organise the work site.
In many sectors, including health, there are a number of unions present, each representing one set of workers. While on the floor, workers of whatever job or profession work in a collegial fashion and cooperate to deliver a service or get the job done.
However, when it comes to collective negotiations and agreements, workers within and across sectors or industries are divided up and take industrial action separately, isolated from one another. This dissipates the collective strength that is able to be exerted if all workers organised and cooperated to take action together across unions. Furthermore, many workers do not have access to formal union organising and experience precarious, isolated, and unsupported work conditions. It is our understanding that all of us — employed or unemployed, union or no union — are working people.
What we have described above leads us to believe that it is necessary to make connections and build networks across unions, as well as across sectors, as the rank and file. These networks would cooperate and organise to assist and extend concrete solidarity for all workers. We know our work best, know what is needed, and what action we need to take.
The Health Sector Workers Network is proposing a national conference for all workers — both paid and unpaid, employed and unemployed, rank and file members of any union, as well as those not unionised — to discuss our experiences, connect, and give every worker a voice. We want to start a process of developing networks to further the interests of all workers, everywhere. Through this process we hope that the self activity of workers will strengthen our resolve to stand up and fight for collective, inclusive control over our workplaces, and lives.
When- 8 Jun at 10:00–9 Jun at 17:00
We are planning a relaxed event so come join us for the full 2 days or just turn up to what you can. The first day we will have speakers on a range of organising topics with discussion to follow. We will use the second day for planning, networking and organising our next steps.
Attendance is free with koha accepted by those who can. Venue TBC.
To help us get an idea of numbers, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or message our page https://www.facebook.com/HSWNAotearoa/?eid=ARDdKqanFhYLulFH_nZBjH1_ioqw4WVyoIEJcq2kIQlgPzJZTXSo0EfAWUNLORBUXtZiIS87xntYaCYK
Let us know if you require childcare, accessibility provisions, have a special diet or have any questions. We can provide some accomodation and hoping to have a travel fund for those who need it.
Also let us know if you’re interested in speaking about your organising experiences on Day 1 or would like to help out with the hui in any way.