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Upcoming Gigs

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TESTT (Durham): April 12th

The New Adelphi (Hull): April 15th

Workshop Theatre (Leeds): April 17th

Hydra Bookshop (Bristol): April 18th

Derby Theatre: April 20th

Harrogate Theatre: April 24-25th

Ovalhouse (London): April 26-28th


London Book Launch at Ovalhouse, April 26th

York Book Launch at All Saints Church, April 29th

Small Fry DIY, Warrington, 2nd May

Spoken Weird, Halifax: 3rd May

Born Lippy, Newcastle 9th May

Shaken In Sheep Town, Skipton: 10th May

Find The Right Words, Leicester : 16th May

Queenie’s Coffee Nights, Huddersfield: 21st May

Gong Fu Poets, Coxhoe: 31st May

Verse Matters, Sheffield: 7th June

Slam Dunk, Hastings: 28th June

Word Club, Leeds: 29th June

Poetry Jam, Durham: 4th October

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Cages & Wages: Thoughts on May Day

It’s May 1st, May Day, also known as International Worker’s Day across the world.  This Saturday will see marches and actions to celebrate this day in the left-wing calendar.

What are the origins of May Day?  Many fought in the 1800s fought for many rights we now take for granted, and one such battle for the fight for the 8 hour day (8 hours for work, 8 for recreation and 8 for rest).

May Day has come to represent those battles, for better pay, working conditions, pensions, the weekend, sick leave & pay, material leave & pay etc etc.

But we need to be careful not to ‘romanticise’ elements of the working class movement.  Trade Unions are still hierarchical organisations with power structures.  I believe in the power of a Union, but we have to be careful when we sing “The Union keeps us strong” because sometimes the Union bureaucrats sell us out in negotiations.

I am also aware of the language of the socialist working class movement is, obviously, about working.  It’s very macho, male-orientated and has a focus on ‘pride’.  Sometimes uses this word ‘hard-working’. 

But let’s not forget, work steals from us.  Work steals our time, energy, resources, dignity.  It puts us into boxes, categories, makes us competitive, gives us a reason to mistrust immigrants, women and be at the mercy of the managers and economy. 

We are wage slaves, our cages & chains built with the things we want and need.

Be wary that ‘hard-working’ and ‘pride’ are also the language of the Conservatives and the Right-wing.  They tell us to be proud of something which steals from us.  Be proud of earn a living.  Be proud of earn a wage.  Proud to climb the ladder.  Be proud of these chains and cages. 

This is their trap.

And this focus on ‘working’ as a sense of identity in your class means those who don’t or cannot work don’t always fit into this working class struggle.

I want to quote from the preamble to the Industrial Workers Of The World Constitution:

Instead of the conservative motto, "A fair day's wage for a fair day's work," we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, "Abolition of the wage system." http://www.iww.org/culture/official/preamble.shtml

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