Fr., January 11th 2019 7:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Sa., January 12th 2019 10:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Volkshaus Zürich Stauffacherstr. 60, 8004 Zürich
Sa., January 12th 2019, 9:00 p.m. Provitreff, Sihlquai 240, 8005 Zürich: food, concerts, party!
Sa., January 12th 2019: 10:30 a.m. at the Volkshaus entrance area and 11:00 a.m. at the Spielbaracke on the Kanzleiareal. More infos (in German).
As every year, this January the World Economic Forum (WEF) will take place in Davos. This meeting brings together the most powerful „business leaders“, influential politicians and those in charge of international institutions such as the IMF, WTO and ECB. The organisers and participants of the WEF are trying to show the public that they are seriously interested in solving social problems. Yet it is precisely they who, as representatives of the capitalist economic and social order, perpetuate poverty and oppression and thus provide the breeding ground for the omnipresent, xenophobic agitation. Every year, the Movement for Socialism organises an alternative forum in order to create a counter-public to the WEF – the Other Davos – which this year will take place on Friday January 11th and Saturday January 12th 2019 in Zurich.
At this year’s Other Davos, we put strikes in their various forms at the centre of the debates. Special attention will be given to the women’s*strikes in Spain and Switzerland that will take place in 2019. Strikes give us cause for hope again and again – especially in times when it seems to be part of normality that migrants are chased through European streets because of their origins; women are being subjected to sexist assaults in their everyday working life; the welfare state is being dismantled beyond recognition; the right to an affordable apartment only exists on paper; working conditions are deteriorating into precarity everywhere and wage increases appear to be almost prehistoric obscurities. When Amazon workers are on strike in several European countries at the same time; when teachers in many, mostly conservative US states bring the education sector to a standstill; when workers and students in France block the country; when the mid-level academic staff of universities in Germany or England refuse to obey and make the ivory tower tremble; when women in the entire Spanish state – and soon also in Switzerland – cry out „If we strike, the world stands still!“ then we begin to see the contours of what a different world based on solidarity might look like. Without falling into blind hope and failing to recognize the scale of threats we face in Europe and elsewhere, these outbursts of collective disobedience confirm our historical conviction that the consciousness of wage earners can change and radicalize itself sharply during collective actions and that solidarity can take the place of individualism and xenophobia. At the same time we want to raise the big question of why even massive strike and protest movements have been defeated again and again. More immediately, we want to deal with the difficulties we encounter as wage earners in our everyday professional and educational life and when we organize in unions. Finally, the aim of the Other Davos is to confront the rise of the right in Europe as well as the networking of the ruling class at the WEF with our ideas of solidarity and collective organising from below. We want to bring together activists from different backgrounds in political activism or unionism, to exchange ideas with them, and finally to collectively gain perspectives and impulses for a world of solidarity. Our guests this year come from the USA, Italy, France, Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland. The conference will be translated into German, English and French. In addition, childcare will be provided in the Spielbarracke at Kanzleiareal on Saturday throughout the programme. The official programme will be followed on Saturday evening by a soli-party and dinner at the Provitreff in Zurich.
In Germany, the USA and to a more modest extent Switzerland, the frequency of strikes has increased markedly in recent years despite the decades-old and strongly institutionalised tradition of industrial peace. At the same time, collective strikes have declined in some countries with a militant trade union tradition, e.g. Italy, or, as in France, could no longer build on old strengths. At the opening plenary of the Other Davos 2019, we would like to discuss the challenges of strikes in different sectors, drawing on specific experiences from selected countries where significant strike movements have occurred in recent years. We will examine the impact of the changes (precarisation, „digitisation“, etc.) in our working conditions on the possibilities of collective resistance in the workplace and the difficulties that strikes will have to face in the 21st century.
In the US, throughout 2018, teachers* in different states went on strike for higher wages, better working and learning conditions, and against the austerity policies of recent decades. Because of their scale and radicalism, these teachers‘ strikes may have opened a new chapter in the U.S. workers‘ movement. In Germany in 2018, Amazon workers and their colleagues in Spain and Poland demonstrated that transnational action is possible – and inevitable, especially in such a digitized and internationalized industry. The workers‘ movement in France has suffered one defeat after the other in recent years. Particularly under President Emmanuel Macron, the attacks on the labour rights and conditions of wage earners have intensified considerably. Despite some massive strike movements, these attacks could not be fended off. An effective response to Macron’s neoliberal policy must therefore continue to be developed. In recent years, the trade union movement in Italy has no longer been capable of nationwide strike action. And the conditions for militant trade union work will not improve under the new right-wing government of the Lega and the 5-star movement, on the contrary. Nevertheless, there have been some significant strikes in recent years in precarious sectors, where mainly refugees are employed, e.g. in logistics or agriculture. Valuable lessons can be drawn from this experience, which are useful for the entire workers‘ movement in Italy. Although some strikes in some countries have caused a stir and pointed to new forms of collective organizing, the left and workers‘ movements in Europe have not yet found any longer-term answers to stop the rise of the right. It is precisely the spread of right-wing and xenophobic ideas within the working class*that must prompt us to reflect on the role strikes can play in the struggle against right-wing development and the forms they must take in order to contribute to the improvement of our working and living conditions, which have deteriorated for decades as a result of neoliberal reforms.
With Olivier Besancenot, worker at the French Post and spokesman for the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA), Dana Blanchard, former teacher in California and activist of the International Socialist Organization (ISO), Eliana Como, trade unionist of the FIOM and activist of the Sinistra Anticapitalista in Italy, Violetta Bock, supporter of the strikes at Amazon and activist of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) in Germany, as well as Mike Zahn and Philipp Gebhardt, activists of the Movement for Socialism (BFS) from Zurich.
Women have had enough! Feminist movements are experiencing an upswing as millions of women are taking to the streets all over the world. Around 6 million women went on strike in the Spanish state on 8 March 2018. They stopped both paid and unpaid care work. They did not consume. In this way they pointed to the essential contribution women make to society, which often remains invisible, hidden in the private sphere, and is hardly appreciated. Throughout the country, women demonstrated, supported by male allies. In a variety of actions, they addressed issues and challenges from their everyday lives as women. Strengthened by this success, they are calling for the next feminist strike in the Spanish state on 8 March 2019.
With Julia Cámara, member of the national coordination of the women’s strike 2018 in the Spanish state and feminist activist of Anticapitalistas, Michela Bovolenta, National Women’s Secretary of the Association of Public Service Personnel (VPOD), Leandra dos Santos, activist of the group „Trotzphase“ from Zurich, Frieda Heumann, activist of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the Womens’ Strike Campaign 2019 in Germany, and Caterina Storni, activist of the Movement for Socialism (BFS).[/show_more]
In Germany too, the women will strike on 8 March 2019. After the 2018 nationwide demonstrations and actions on International Women’s Day weremuch larger than in previous years, activists throughout Germany decided to call a women’s strike based on the example of the Spanish state. As early as 14 June 1991, half a million women in Switzerland were on strike under the slogan „If women want, everything stands still“ in order to demand the enforcement of the equality article that was formally implemented 10 years earlier. Since 27 years later the social equality of women still seems to be a long way off, another women’s strike has been called for June 14th, 2019. The demands go beyond equality on paper: women demand the socialisation of care and reproductive work, the end of the gender-specific division of labour, the right to determine one’s own body, the fight against sexualised violence, an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation, and a society without racism and xenophobia. This set of demands arises from the concrete realities of women’s lives, and is therefore being extended continuously. On this panel we would like to discuss with involved activists their experiences in organizing women’s strikes, the difficulties and challenges, as well as the necessity of mobilizations beyond the strikes.
With Julia Cámara, member of the national coordination of the women’s strike 2018 in the Spanish state and feminist activist of Anticapitalistas, Michela Bovolenta, National Women’s Secretary of the Association of Public Service Personnel (VPOD), Leandra dos Santos, activist of the group „Trotzphase“ from Zurich, Frieda Heumann, activist of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the Womens’ Strike Campaign 2019 in Germany, and Caterina Storni, activist of the Movement for Socialism (BFS).