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The 8th of March is, has always been, and will always remain a feminist day of struggle!

Published on Mar 04, 2021 Tags: ,
That's why we call to participate at the 8th of March demonstration "Our life our resistance, break the silence break the system" (FLINT only at 2 pm in front of the Europäischen Komission - Vertetung in Deutschland). And that's why based on the experience of centuries of feminist struggles we formulate our recent goals and ways to win.

The starting point for the Internation Women's day was not only the fight for universal suffrage, but also the fight against poverty and for better working conditions - for a life of dignity for all! Among the various struggles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many of which were subject to vicious suppression, the 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike is particularly noteworthy. With the help of the Industrial Workers of the World, female workers from more than 51 nationalities united to successfully fight back against pay cuts and also coined the iconic demand for "bread and roses" . Practically no class struggle would have been possible without women's labour work and support, even though their contributions have often been erased and made invisible. But the injustices they faced couldn't be made invisible forever; over the years the call for equal pay was repeatedly raised and often accompanied by successful strike action: from the 1960s Ford sewing machinists' strike in Dagenham, to the nation-wide feminist strikes in Iceland in 1975 and in Switzerland in 1991 .

And today? Today, we have the vote and the freedom to choose between parties that promise only minor reforms to the current abortion regulations, and parties that promise none at all - when what we really want is safe and free abortions for everyone, everywhere. We have the freedom to work for and be exploited by female bosses (mostly from well-off families) - when what we really want is an end to bosses and exploitation. Most of us still have to work in understaffed environments, still have to endure sexist and racist treatment from bosses and customers, still have to solve the problem of care work all by ourselves, are still paid 30% less on average than our male comrades, still have to struggle with the job center because we don't have the right papers or are subjected to constant surveillance. Some of us have suddenly and miraculously become essential workers, when all that means is that we're expected to risk our health for poor working conditions and a tiny bit of applause!

To sum it up: Way too much stress for far too little pay! That's assuming we actually get paid: a lot of work is still not valued as work because it is done at home instead of in the office! Exploitation and discrimination have not disappeared, capitalism has just come up with better sounding justifications, telling us that we are all free to make our own choices in life and if those choices don't work out for us, then we've only ourselves to blame.

What we are fighting for in 2021:

  • Health protection for all! Remember: healthcare is not evenly distributed. Plenty of people fall through the absurdly wide cracks of our health insurance system. And even if you are covered, that doesn't mean you necessarily have access to what you need, especially if there is not enough healthcare provision in your neighborhood, or no doctor willing to terminate your pregnancy. Furthermore, not everyone can stay and work at home right now. Workers in many precarious (and feminised!) sectors still need to go out to work every day. In many cases, staying at home isn’t safe either, as domestic violence has skyrocketed over the past year. As long as wages are low while rents and economic dependencies remain high, any solution will be merely a drop in the ocean. We need solidarity with people who are at risk, but we also need a healthcare system that is not based on profits but on the needs of patients and healthcare workers!

  • 4h workday, menstrual leave and paid domestic & care work! During the Covid-19 pandemic, the German authorities could think of nothing better to do than loosen the restrictions on working hours. In China, on the other hand, the authorities found that health workers were more effective in combatting the pandemic when their working hours were radically reduced. Now shouldn’t we have a radical reduction of our working hours with full pay for everyone? If we can finally ensure equal pay for domestic labour and care work as well, we may actually be able to achieve a fair distribution of both work and economic security. This also includes the right to paid monthly menstrual leave. There is so much to gain in terms of human health, the environment and the community. The 8h workday was fought for and won by workers - it's time we took the next step!

  • Legalisation and equal pay for all! Equal pay for equal work! But what is the basis for this equality? Why is caring for people valued so much less than caring for machines? And what about equality for the thousands of documented and undocumented migrant workers working away in German households, on German construction sites and on German farms? Making people "illegal" makes them easier to exploit and less likely to protest against shitty working conditions. Turning tasks into "women's work" makes it more acceptable to pay workers less and demand more. Assigning people "a different color" excludes them from the solidarity they need when they are treated poorly. (Now imagine having to fight against all three of these obstacles!) So when we demand equal pay, we are demanding it for everyone, everywhere and at every time. Stop discrimination and start Legalisation Now!

How we fight in 2021:

  • Come together, be creative, and fight the small battles: So we might not be typical factory workers working side by side at the assembly line. But it doesn't matter whether we wait tables, clean, cook, care for the elderly or people who are ill, work as personal assistants, take care of children, cut hair, do other people's nails, edit and proofread texts, sext, dance, answer the phone, or sell sandwiches for a living, whether we are (falsely) self-employed sole traders, minijobbers, on benefits, without residence status, or still in training. None of that means we can't come together, organise, and fight as a union. As long as we are alone and have to cope with multiple struggles all by ourselves, our employers and the authorities will always wear us down with their constant disregard for our rights and unending demands for more papers. But as some of our recent cases at call centers and bakeries have shown, the fight has only just begun. Meetings, self-education, mutual aid in all areas of our lives, and solidarity funds, e.g. during the coronavirus pandemic, can actually make it possible to tackle long-term class goals. By supporting one another, standing up and accompanying each other to court or to your bosses' office, we will turn the tables and take the fight back to them!

  • Build a new society in the shell of the old: Make our union activities empowering and energising for all comrades: If you work three jobs and have kids to take care of, you won't have much time left for assemblies and meetings. If you have to cope with a constant stream of racism, sexism and all the other shit in your everyday life, you won't have much energy left to deal with the same shit during meetings. So let's view things like childcare and emotional labour as a collective part of our union activities and not as an individual issue!

  • Tear down artificial barriers between countries: Corporations don't respect national borders, so why should we? The garment workers' strikes in Bangladesh were successful because we held the companies in both the place of production and the place of sale jointly responsible. (And by the way, why are the producing workers illegal when they come here, but not the products?) Our comrades all over the world have shown how we can all continue the struggle, whether with the impressive nationwide feminist strike on the 8th of March in Spain , or in Poland where our sister syndicate IP supported the massive protest against the absurd national abortion laws with active calls for strikes.

  • Form a broad feminist strike movement: German labour laws are notoriously strict about any campaign for actual change that falls outside of the narrowly defined constraints of the whole collective bargaining rigmarole. But old court rulings can be overruled and new labour laws fought for - it's not like the current labor laws came out of nowhere or were granted by the bosses out of the sheer goodness of their hearts. So let's start building a lasting strike movement. And yes, care workers can go on strike - not against but with and for the people they care for! As the campaign for more staff at hospitals puts it: More of us are better for everyone! When we stop working, the whole world stands still!

Every day is the 8th of March! Make every day a day of feminist struggle!

Your feminist comrades of the AG8M - FAU Berlin

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FAU Berlin is currently restructuring! This means that we are reducing some of our public activities, to focus on our strategy for the future. Throughout this time we are still providing support to our membership. If you are a member and need assistance, don't hesitate to contact your section/workplace group, or drop into our open Lokal on Fridays.

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