International Women’s Day – National Women’s Strike!
Soon it’s March 8, and like women in many other countries, we will go on strike! All women who are members of the SAC and working in the private sector are covered by the central strike notice served by the SAC, meaning that there will be a 24 hour national political strike. The reason for gearing up for industrial action is that we’ve had enough! Enough of the undervaluation of the work of women in our industries; enough of the reactionary forces threatening our rights; enough of women being subjected to domestic violence, as well as in society at large! This is when we reclaim March 8, originally founded by the labor movement – never a day for “showing a little extra appreciation”, always a day of celebration the same rights as those taken for granted by men.
Thus, the SAC is serving a notice of a 24 hour political strike, on March 8 2017, from 00:00-24:00, covering all women employed in the private sector – meaning public servants are lamentably exempted (the reasons for this are laid out under the ”Political Strike” heading). Remember, if your co-workers are striking but you are unable to participate, you have the absolute right to remain neutral – no one can force you to take care of leftover work caused by a strike. Read the headings of “Obligation of Industrial Peace” and “Neutrality” to learn more about your options for maintaining neutrality.
The decision to serve industrial strike notices on the national level was taken by the members of the SAC on its 2015 congress. The primary purpose of the strike notice draw attention to an important issue – we are raising our voices, creating debate, and doing some necessary stirring of the pots. Secondly, serving a national strike notice also means that even those who haven’t had much experience going into industrial action will be able to feel more confident in doing so. As branch autonomy and membership democracy are central to the SAC, it is hard to arrive at any sort of estimation of how disruptive the strike will end up being – the decision to take action is left to every local federation (LS), syndicate, workplace section, and, of course, every individual member too. This is not disadvantageous, however, because no matter what the outcome, we will have shown that International Women’s Day is not just any other day, and we will bring out experiences with us into future struggles.Complementary ActivismIf you are not allowed to participate or prefer other expressions of resistance, there are naturally lots of different things to do to support the strike. These are just a few examples:
- Make sure there are informational leaflets or fliers in your workplace.
- Wear a badge or clothes with designs supporting the strike.
- Share syndicalist posts with your social media networks.
- Hand out leaflets and put up stickers.
- Organize a syndicalist workshop or talk on the subject of feminism in the workplace.
- Organize a protest meeting or demonstration.
- Support the local women’s shelter by organizing a petition or solidarity party.
- Send letters to the editor of your local newspapers
About Political Strikes in Sweden
When workers go on strike on issues that are not specifically workplace-related, these are considered as political strikes. In other words, these are strikes that aren’t presenting the employer at a workplace with a set of specific demands for them to meet, but to protest, for instance, a political decision in your or some other country. The political strike is a controlled burst of working class power, with the downing of tools often combined with demonstrations and other forms of protest.However, not everyone is allowed to participate in political strikes. The Public Employment Act contains stipulations banning such strikes for employees of the Swedish Parliament and its authorities, Governmental authorities, public insurance agencies, municipalities, county councils, and municipal associations. (That is, these workers will only be able to participate in the Women’s strike if they connect the industrial action to practical workplace issues when serving their strike notice.) Aside from these, Swedish law does not stipulate any further limitations on the right to participate in political strikes.Remember that you have the absolute right to ”remain neutral” if you fellow workers go on strike – this means that the law is on your side when you refuse to carry out the tasks that your co-workers would have carried out if they weren’t on strike. It is extremely important to show solidarity with striking co-workers, and it is our duty as syndicalists to make sure our workmates have understood that they cannot be forced to do something they don’t want to do here.
Obligation of Industrial Peace
If you are a member of a Swedish labor union that has signed a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), you are automatically bound by an obligation to maintain industrial peace. In other words, if you go on strike – or participate in any other industrial actions, such as bans on working overtime – you are also in breach of the Co-determination Act (MBL) and therefore liable for damages. These type of strikes are also known as “wildcat strikes”. Since very few of the local federations, syndicates and sections that belong to the SAC have signed CBAs, this means that we strike legally, and are also covered by legal protections against bosses threatening to penalize employees organized in the SAC.Moreover, while participants in wildcats are liable for damages, retaliatory firings and similar actions are not allowed. It is important to realize that if your boss threatens you with writing reports, warning notices, or giving you the sack, he or she is engaging in illegal harassment.
Scabbing is one of the most disgusting activities known to man. Unfortunately, there’s nothing in the Swedish law against strikebreakers – but on the other hand, there are no laws forcing you to become one either! Even if you are unable to participate in a strike or blockades, you still have the right to enter the conflict as a neutral party. This absolute right to neutrality is upheld by the Swedish state through the Employment Ordinance, which also extends to workers in the private sector (see §14). Thus, even workers bound by the obligation to maintain industrial peace can show their support by remaining neutral. As such, you are entitled to refuse all work that would have been carried out by strikers, and may continue going about your usual tasks. Of course, not everyone will have the same idea about what tasks belong to the category of “ordinary work” and “infected work” – that is, work you are under no obligation to carry out. If your employer refuses to come to an agreement with you, never carry it any work without first having requested a written order work order, which your boss then has to provide you with. If your boss refuses to do this, then his or her interpretation of the situation will carry little weight later.
During strikes overtime order are not unusual. However, if you work overtime in a strike situation, you will in fact be taking part in the boss’s efforts to sabotage the union by undermining the strike. In this context there is only one thing to do, and that is refusing to work overtime. If your employer refuses to back down in this context, you have the right to demand a written work order, exactly specifying the exactly the amount of hours and tasks. Should the boss refuse to do this, there is no credibility to his or her demands – as long as there is no written work order there is no way for you to make sure that you will actually get paid for your work, and consequently not under any obligation to carry out any work.
For more information and continuous updates – follow our accounts on social media. If you have any questions regarding the Women’s Strike, e-mail the national strike committee at firstname.lastname@example.org
Forwards the women struggle, forwards the women’s strike!
The SAC March 8 Committee and the SAC Central Committe