Thoughts on the railway strike
a leaflet produced and distributed by Dortmund anarchists on 6th May 2015
Translated from this in German: Gedanken zum Bahn-Streik final
To the train drivers: reject the blackmail!
Immediately after you announced your strike, the outcry was immense: “This strike is absolutely irresponsible and extortionate” (the German Railway Company), “It is a risk for Germany as an industrial location” (Michael Fuchs, a Christian Democrat politician), it will “severely harm the whole German economy” (Sigmar Gabriel, Minister for Economic Affairs). Don’t you strikers care about the public interest at all?
– Let’s not be frightened by this blah blah blah by which politicians and bosses want to give you a guilty conscience! Your demands are alright: a little more compensation for personal suffering as they steal your life and time and one hour less per week of your nose to the grindstone – that’s the very least (apart from this, the question of whom your union is allowed to represent is at stake, too – but, to be honest, that doesn’t interest us much).The concrete demands are not that important anyway – there are 1000 good reasons to strike, why should we concentrate on some particular ones? But seriously: when the bosses talk about “the public interest”, in reality the only thing they mean by this is their profits. For the majority, this notorious “public interest”, also known as “the strategic economic location of Germany”, just means grinding work, boredom, stress and yet still constantly too little money in the pocket. That we are nevertheless dependent on the “German economy”, because our jobs are reliant upon its success and we’re often even worse off if we can’t let ourselves be exploited – this is unfortunately true, but that doesn’t mean that we have to identify with the whole set-up.
To the passengers: don’t grumble, enjoy the time to take in the air, show solidarity!
Those who stand around at the station, waiting for a train in vain, shouldn’t scold the strikers, but rather use the unexpected break from the daily routine to chat with other passengers or to reflect on things a bit. Mobility is alright, but how do we benefit from it, if we mainly use it to get to some shitty job, school or university? Or to get to a random holiday resort, where we find the same boredom as at home? Anyway, what kind of life is this, which is timed so precisely that it already resembles a catastrophe if simply a train doesn’t come or the kindergarden is on strike and they can’t look after the brats?[footnote 1] And if now you object that you’re also waged workers and that your boss won’t tolerate you being late, we say: that’s true, but at least be brave enough not to blame the train drivers for your plight, but the capitalist property order – that it is the misfortune that the means of production are not controlled by the producers.
To everybody: all wheels start standing still, if we use our strength and will!
The most interesting thing about this strike is that it frightens those with power in this country. That’s why they want to introduce a new Tarifeinheitsgesetz “law of tariff uniformity” [footnote 2] to stop such small but combative unions like the train drivers’ union. The profit interests of the companies are in danger when the normally smoothly functioning engine begins to splutter: “Warehouses run out of stock, production is constant stop-go, even losses of production might occur“, says Eric Schweizer, president of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce. “When, as announced, the strike goes on for six days, the production chain will begin to falter”. That makes things clear: the shop runs only as long as we want it to. If already such a small group of workers can cause so much trouble, what if others followed their example? And what if we used that power not only to get some more crumbs – but to paralyse THIS WHOLE ROTTEN SOCIETY? To approriate the means we need to re-build this world according to our own vision? Without domination and exploitation, wage labour and competition and all the other nonsense? Undreamt-of possibilities…
Dortmund Anarchist Group, 6th May 2015
1. A reference to the kindergarten strike: http://revolution-news.com/germany-child-care-workers-strike-in-third-week/
2. Tarifeinheitsgesetz (“law of tariff uniformity”): The principle of tariff uniformity means that there must be only one labour agreement in each company. The most important implication of the new Tarifeinheitsgesetz, which will come into effect on July 1st of this year, is that from then on, only the union with the highest number of members in one company will be allowed to make agreements with the management and to call for strikes. That would make strikes like the one of the train drivers union GDL illegal, because it has fewer members than the EVD (railroad and transport union).