Herrschaftsfreie Basisgewerkschaft – Österreichische Sektion der IAA

Working place struggle at Café Gagarin

In Antirassismus, ArbeiterInnenkämpfe Ö, English, Feminismus, Gastronomie, Termine (vergangene) on 19. Mai 2022 at 03:07

dieser Artikel auf Deutsch

Protest at the Gagarin Street Festival

21st of May, 5 – 8 pm
Garnisongasse 24, 1090 Vienna

Support the fight against exploitative structures at Café Gagarin!

In recent years, Café Gagarin, the supposedly „anti-authoritarian“, „collectively run“ café, has been a place of intense internal struggles. Questions of precarious working conditions have been discussed unsuccessfully for a long time. Although Café Gagarin is commonly believed to be run by a collective of equal workers, in reality there has been a division between the „collective“ and the „springer:innen“. The members of the „collective“ take on more responsibility, but also have more privileges, power and status. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, the „collective“ at this point was consisted of white Germans and Austrians, while the „springer:innen“ were mainly migrants.

When they tried to challenge the status quo, the workers repeatedly encountered racist, authoritarian and chauvinist reactions. The demand to restructure the place was tolerated first, but later it was followed by violent and aggressive reactions. Our union member was shouted at and was publicly humiliated by male members of the „collective“. Her demands to make them take responsibility for that were ignored, and the collective tried to reframe the situation as an individual conflict with a hysteric woman. Finally, she decided to quit.

It is clear for us: the rigid power structures made it impossible to question the hierarchies and the bad working conditions, in which exploitation and conflicting class interests are shamelessly interwoven with racist and sexist structures and their individual reproduction.

The problem with labour rights not being respected is not that laws are disregarded, but that „left places“ undermine even the minimum standards of the state, creating widespread acceptance for exploitation in all labour relations. Under the pretext of „good cause“ nobody should push the little boundaries of exploitation and simply negate paid holidays, 13th and 14th salary, sickleave, and so on.

We are aware that a company that is interested in „solidarity economy” is of a different calibre than an ordinary capitalist company. Unfortunately, in the case of Gagarin, the structures that developed over the years have led to extreme situations of exploitation, and a solution does not seem to be in sight. The social trap of „external constraints“ seems to have replaced any ideals. And worse, we have the impression that there is no class consciousness at all, and also zero knowledge and therefore no consciousness of the least labour rights.

We therefore demand a one-time compensation of less than 20% of the amount our union member would have earned in the last 2.5 years if the labour law minimum standards had been respected. This amount is made up of the lost income accumulated over the years through unlawfully reduced working hours, unpaid tips, unpaid sick leave, unpaid vacation, unpaid 13th and 14th salary, and so on.

For us as a union, the interests of wage workers – in this case, the irretrievably lost insurance years, the threat of old-age poverty, the multiple burden as a migrant worker, etc. – are central on the road to a liberated society.

So far, unfortunately, there has been no serious reaction from Gagarin to our offer to settle the matter amicably and without publicity, just a vague suggestion to have a talk with payroll accounting in mid-June. So we had no choice but to make the struggle public and bring it to the Gagarin Street Festival.

And to avoid any misunderstandings right from the start this is not about individual villains! It is about an alternative enterprise reproducing structures that it actually once stood against. Everyone in the „collective“ has to face the question of how it got this far and, above all, how the situation can be changed without continuing to rely on the exploitation of workers, mainly those who are affected by racism and sexism, and without undermining the minimum legal standards by up to 200%.

We want to show clearly: we are not afraid to confront bosses and fight against all forms of exploitation, even if they are painted over with red and black colours!

We invite you to join our demonstration in front of Café Gagarin on 21 May from 5pm! The address is: Garnisongasse 24. You can find us at the black-red flags!

No more sexism, no more racism, no more exploitation!
For the liberation of all workers!

Leaflet with the call for a rally for May 21, 2022

Article published May 19, 2022 on wiensyndikat.wordpress.com. Copying with source reference possible.

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