Herrschaftsfreie Basisgewerkschaft – Österreichische Sektion der IAA

Labor Struggle Secession – Successful Opening Rally

In ArbeiterInnenkämpfe Ö, English, Kunst/ Kultur on 20. November 2021 at 18:44

Pleasingly high turnout at the demonstration on the 19th of November during the exhibition opening.

dieser Artikel auf Deutsch

Photo: WAS

After the board of directors of the Association of Visual Artists informed us on Wednesday, November 10th that they would make some small concessions (which, however, do not include even the minimum of labour law obligations), they virtually ruled out further negotiations. As a result, the last ten days information promises were not kept, our letter on corrections ignored and our deadline was not taken seriously. On Wednesday afternoon we asked twice by phone if this really happened in full consciousness – and “yes, we should just demonstrate”, as we were already told before, “we should just go to the labour court if we think we are entitled to more”, . . .

So we decided during the exhibition opening on 19. 11. to inform the interested art public about the events at the Secession.

We have announced the rally for 10 people, over 70 came.

This unexpectedly strong participation in the demonstration against the exploitative conditions shows us that we have hit a nerve. The precarious living conditions of workers in the art sector are for many a hard-to-bear reality. It seems that those who do not belong to the financially well-placed art in-crowd are quite fed up.

Photo: WAS

So, instead of the expected people, many showed up to demonstrate against the treatment of the weakest in the Secession. All the more astonishing since the decision to hold the rally on Friday was not made until the night of Wednesday to Thursday. It was nice that the Secessions audience mingled with the rally, and that everyone present dealt with the content thoroughly. A few visibly wealthy were visibly affected and a handful of confused people might have thought it all to be an art action itself. However, the majority of visitors used the time of the Corona entrance controls to read our information carefully and listened to the speeches. For some, a Gordian knot – brand “barricades and their sides” – has noticeably developed in their brains. The police didn’t appear at all, which didn’t bother us as anarchists and only showed once again that even such an accumulation of exhibition visitors, demonstrators and passers-by can self-organize and be happy side by side.

“There is no labour dispute”*Please continue, there is nothing to see here!* Secessions-OTS

Our main banner “There is no labour dispute” – Please continue, there is nothing to see here!“ was a persiflage to the Secession’s bizarre press release of the previous day, which was supposed to be a response to the WAS press release six hours earlier, but should be seen more as a presentation of the raw nerves. As if we had sprung from a non-existent parallel reality, we were, contrary to the perception to the upper floor of the honorable house, but somehow quite materialistically present. And so are the problems and the labour struggles.

. . .  The comrades of the women’s strike also took part in solidarity ….

We distributed almost 500 flyers in English and German to the exhibition audience and passers-by. We had many good conversations and established contacts. It should be noted that one of the exhibiting artists actively approached us and expressed her solidarity with the employees!

Many of the participants also found the speech of a comrade to be noteworthy. We continued the rally until the three concerned colleagues who were on duty that evening came safely to us.

Let’s talk about it?

Already on friday afternoon we received a vague offer to talk from the new board to all (!) employees of the Secession. We consider this to be the first success of our ongoing campaign. We hope that the Executive Board will actually use the coming weeks to improve the climate in the building on the one hand and to establish minimum labour law standards on the other. Because the previous procedure, after our union had introduced itself, tossing money out of the window for lawyers and press releases, instead of paying for years of free work with a few hundred per worker, was not the answer to everything?

Or go on like this?

The trade union WAS remains ready to talk and we also hope that we will not have to organize rallies every month after the lockdown ends. We would like to use our time better, but we are, as always, ready and wildly determined to counter exploitation and injustice with a totally disproportionate effort. And anyone who deals with anarcho-syndicalism will realize that we are serious about it. Our cohesion is boundless – in every possible sense of the word – and our driving force is deep-rooted class solidarity. The art market, on the other hand – like everything in capitalism – is subject to ordinary cost-benefit calculations, and in this respect we have already won.

Photo: WAS

Call for Demonstration (EN) from the 17.11.2021
OTS-Presseaussendung WAS (GER) 18.11.2021
OTS-Presseaussendung Secession (GER) 18.11.2021
Press article Kronen Zeitung (GER) Onlineausgabe 19.11.2021
Newsflash Heute Print edition 19.11.2021, page 20
Leaflet (GER/ EN) demonstration 19.11.2021
Speech Secession worker (EN) at the demonstration on 19.11.2021
Speech WAS (GER) at the demonstration on 19.11.2021
WAS-Portal regarding this conflict with all current informations

Article published 20.11.2021 at WAS Blog. Copying with source reference possible.


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