My daughters have been attending school in Bruxelles for 5 and a half months now and today their both schools are on strike for the 4th time already. Schools, administration services, public transport, postal service, refuse collection service as well as commercial enterprises and centers are on strike today in all areas of Belgium.
I am new here and not sure about the outcomes of these strikes, but what I meanwhile realized is that this kind of citizens taking their right to demonstrate something profound concerning their working environment is not the way it should be, is widely excepted and a fundamental part of their democratic consciousness.
It means quite a lot if once a month public schools and kindergartens are not operating (there is a possibility to put them into a common nursery in some of the schools, what is quite chaotic and not most fun for kids new to town like ours).
By incident there are currently also warning strikes of the private maintenance area and social services in Austria. About 100.000 workers are on partly strike as their negotiations concerning salary increase and reduction of working time didn’t have the desired results.
What those workers here in Belgium and in Austria are doing is extremely important and a fundamental instrument of expressing worker’s rights in a democratic society. We should not forget this in turbo-capitalist times. And, these actions - often lead to better working conditions for the ones striking - at least on the long run.
I find it very alarming that as a culture producer I am working in a field without any labour union negotiating our worker’s rights. In Austria, there aren’t even existing collective labor agreements defining the income of my colleges and me, neither fighting for salary increase, working conditions, labor time questions, etc. Yes, your income as an employed cultural manager depends on individual employers. In the field of performing arts (management) for instance - only one example: there is no existing minimum wage!?! People are dependent on individuals decision in a hierarchical and highly competitive field! There will always someone be found to do that job (good or not). BUT still, nobody ever thinks on stopping working … the art sector exposes itself as super emancipated!?
Yes, there do exist IGs (Groups of Interest) for several fields of the art, articulating those problems, needs and coming up statistics, creating transparence and targeting politics … but the art and culture sector in Austria urgently needs something more mandatory!
Nobody ever comes to the point stopping to work and go on STRIKE in order to fight for necessary changes in the field.
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