Category Archives: gender equity

Liverpool IWW Agrees Safer Spaces Policy

safe-spacesAt our branch meeting last week, Liverpool IWW agreed a safer spaces policy. In doing so, we’re declaring that we aim to make our online and real life spaces safer for all, and especially oppressed and marginalised sections of the working class. We are doing this because it is the decent thing to do, and also because we are conscious that discriminatory and oppressive behaviour works to exclude working class people we should be in solidarity with. In other words, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”.

We have taken this decision in the light of the motion put forward by FWs in the US, to get a safer spaces policy in the IWW constitution. Whether or not this policy passes in the global member referendum, we in Liverpool will aim to put into practice our own version, which only differs in terms of details specific to us.

The policy:

Liverpool IWW is committed to the emancipation of the working class. The working class is diverse and, as a branch, we realize that oppression is many-layered. As such, we strive to keep our common places* free from oppressive action, behavior and language.

These oppressive actions and words include but are not limited to: racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and any expression of disrespect and/or intolerance of size, gender identity, sexual identity/expression, (dis)ability, age, educational level, and cultural background. Because we want to learn from and educate each other, we will each be responsible for addressing these issues in ourselves and others. This policy is not about censorship, but rather opening a dialogue in a respectful way that can result in all members feeling safe and free to fully participate in their union’s activities.

If a member feels this policy is being / has been violated, the following steps should be taken:

1. Reference the policy to the whole group: for example, “In Liverpool IWW, we have a ‘Safer Spaces Policy’ which all members are mutually responsible to uphold. I feel this policy has been violated by talk of ‘[comments made].’ Please keep the Safer Space Policy in mind.”

2. If the policy is still being violated, the issue should be brought up to the person in violation directly and/or the chair, an officer, a delegate, or a member whom you would like to act as an advocate on your behalf so that an effective plan of action can be instituted [this ties in with survivor-led processes already incorporated into the IWW constitution].

3. If you have no allies locally and invoking the ‘Safer Space Policy’ fails, reach out to the Gender Equity Committee for assistance via GEC@IWW.org.

If a member feels like this policy is being violated and is uncomfortable bringing this up personally, they are encouraged to seek an ally of their choosing to advocate for them. In a meeting, a person can ask for a point of personal privilege to take a break and discuss this with the necessary parties. Meeting chairs, officers, delegates, and members should be conscious of this policy and address issues as they arise.

*this shall be defined as any meeting, event (including trainings, celebrations, social gatherings, etc.), and includes Liverpool IWW-linked online spaces

*CN – Violence against Women* Solidarity with FW Rory MacKinnon and Survivors of Domestic Violence

morningn-star-17-12-2013Liverpool IWW wholeheartedly welcomes the statement made this week by Clydeside wobblies, and supports their call for a boycott of the Morning Star. We stand in full solidarity with FW Rory MacKinnon, who was suspended (and effectively forced to resign) by the paper, for investigating the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union bureaucracy’s suppression of domestic violence allegations against their assistant general secretary, Steve Hedley.

We agree with FW MacKinnon that:

“[..] the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union’s members do have a right to know about their leaders’ decision not to hold a formal investigation into reports of violence against a female member, and I think the Morning Star’s readers and supporters also have a right to know that the paper’s senior staff have an explicit policy of suppressing such allegations.”

We are also in full agreement with the recent call by our union’s Gender Equity Committee, for:

“EVERY branch of the Industrial Workers of the World [to] make the active resistance of patriarchy, sexual violence and other forms of oppression a priority for their branch and the members within. We encourage our fellow workers to diligently develop and effectively implement official practices and policies that address incidents of injury where terms of immediate relief, punitive action, and transformative justice prioritize the needs of the survivor(s).”

While survivors on the radical and trade union left are frequently told that they are ‘dividing the class’ when they call out men for their abuses, we maintain that in reality, patriarchy is one of many tools which serves to divide the working class. It must be actively resisted wherever it manifests, so that we can progress towards creating a mass working class movement, inclusive of all genders. We therefore see the disciplining of FW MacKinnon as completely against the interests of the working class, and will play our part in supporting and publicising this boycott.