Continuing our partnership work with the Communication Workers Union
Blackpool Homeless Project
On May 18th Journey to Justice met the National Executive of the CWU at their headquarters in Wimbledon, London. We were delighted to be invited to present our Economic (In)Justice resources, with a focus on ‘community-based action for change’. Following successful CWU workshops in Birmingham and Manchester, Kate Hudson (Head of Equality, Education and Development at CWU) asked us to share our resources to help the National Executive committee understand our work and how CWU might work together with JtoJ in future.
At the event, we told stories from our websites of successful community actionsuch as, improving housing in Newham, London (People’s Empowerment Alliance for Custom House) and campaigning for transport in rural Wales (Friends of the 65 bus) and asked the union executive for their views on trade union involvement in community campaigns. There was wholehearted support from the CWU delegates for this.
To address the issue of inequalities from a starting point of shared experience and solidarity, delegates heard the less-known historic stories of Will Thorne (Birmingham), Sarah Chapman (East End, London), Milly Witkop (originally from Ukraine), Ben Tillett (Bristol) and the Sparkbrook Association (Birmingham) in addition to the better-known solidarity stories about the Jewish tailors’ strike, Irish Dockers’ Strike and Battle of Cable Street. There was lively discussion around the legacy of colonialism which is still affecting workers’ pay and conditions today and the links between economic and racial injustice. We then shared extracts from some of our videos of explainers which looked at in-work poverty, the value of work, how class and education feed inequality and the importance of organised resistance. Members of the Executive were invited to discuss how their members’ lives are affected and whether or not economic justice is the fundamental inequality. There was clear, majority agreement that it is.
Ideas about non-violent tactics were discussed and we presented some of our resources, including an emphasis on how the arts have been employed in successful campaigns. Delegates enjoyed Keith Hodgson’s story about the power of songs during the campaign in the North-East to re-instate sacked care-workers and Tania performed a very powerful poetry piece she had written for the Fighting Sus! group in 2019 when young people engaged in reactivating past struggles against racialised policing. Helen Barnard (Director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation), on our website film, shared ‘smart’ tips for activists campaigning for a better future.
CWU are interested in developing the relationship with JtoJ to support the union to help those communities which their members already serve. Delegates were very interested in hearing the JtoJ team’s workshop approach and fundamental principles such as getting thinking going about how and why the UK economic system and inequalities are the way they are and how the CWU might support, galvanise and generate action in local communities throughout the UK.
The session was very successful with many thoughtful contributions and enthusiastic discussion on all aspects of the presentation. Both CWU and JtoJ felt very positive about the session. We very much look forward to continuing our partnership work with CWU throughout the UK!
‘The presentation was very thought provoking. It is great to see the work you have already produced. You have given me a renewed voice about equality and how I can get involved through the work I carry out.’ Michelle B
‘A very motivational presentation. History I never knew, which should and needs to get out there whether in schools or work places.’
‘Thanks for an excellent session on anti-racism and economic justice. It covered lots of interesting themes and topics that are relevant to CWU policy and objectives, including tackling racism, community wealth building and addressing inequality through campaigning.’