Organized by Plan C (UK), Allt åt Alla (Sweden), Workers’ Initiative (Poland), Precarious Di∫connections (Italy)

Saturday, 22nd October, 10-13h, Bourse du Travail de Saint Denis

The workshop starts from the multiplication in different European countries (such as Scotland, England, Sweden, Germany, Poland)of struggles that involved doctors and junior doctors, nurses,kindergarten workers, precarious workers of social services. Even though these struggles often concerned some specific local or national controversy (reforms of national welfare systems and consequent cuts in wages, privatizations, precarization of labor contracts) they all point to a common process of transformation of welfare which affects all European countries. We can speak of a double precarization: on the one hand, social benefits and welfare services are precarized, since they are increasingly cut, monetized and used as means to create hierarchies and differences among those who can (or cannot) benefit from them. From this perspective, as the spreading rhetoric concerning the struggle against “welfare tourists” shows,welfare reforms are also a powerful instrument to govern mobility of internal and external migrants. On the other hand, and consequently, those who work in welfare and care systems –both public and private – are increasingly precarized, since cuts on wages and theworsening of working conditions are necessary consequences of both privatization and financialization of those systems.These transformations are also based on a specific sexual division of labor: while care work is mostly performed by women, whose exploitation is supported by an ideological ‘feminization’ of care, produced by a long-lasting and flexible patriarchal order,the monetization and privatization of welfare system entails both an intensification of the double labor – productive and reproductive– of women and their employment as waged workers, mainly migrant, inside homes. The fact that a big part of care work that requires flexible working hours and low wages is done by migrant women, compelled in this sector also by the blackmail of the residence permit, shows a global chain of exploitation that creates hierarchies among women.

Starting from these assumptions, care work displays its centrality inside the process towards a transnational social strike insofar asit concerns paid and unpaid labor andthe transformation of welfare systems as a part of an overall process of precarization. Furthermore, care work showsthe centrality of women’s and migrants’ labor inside the general reorganization of social reproduction, intended as the production of both a precarious workforce and precise social and sexual relationships.The Polish #blackprotest, that is the strike of women against the abortion bill, shows that it is also possible to think how the social strike could directly address the political conditions of women’s subordination and exploitation and the neoliberal organization of the sexual division of labor on a transnational scale.

After the workshop on transnational chains of care held last year in Poznan during the 2015 Transnational Social Strike meeting, we want to continue this discussion in the attempt to provide a transnational frame and a political connection tothe existing local and national struggles, and to create the conditions for future initiatives that are able to cross the borders:

– How to build a transnational initiative concerning welfare, care and social reproduction, even beyond the local and national dimension of the existing struggles and their fragmentation?

– How to organize effective struggles in the field of care work that take into account the precarious condition of care workers and patients/users, but also the isolation of those workers who perform their labor inside the domestic space?

– Which are the common claims that could help to connect transnationally the struggles over welfare, care and social reproduction?

Link to the report of the workshop on transnational chains of care: