Worker ants

worker ants

Have you heard about what’s going on in France? It’s kicking off there isn’t it, big time. In the squares… Nuit Debout, yeah I think that’s it. Getting together and talking about the future… but they’re doing something about it. They’ve had enough! Good on em. They’re blockading the refineries. That’s how you do it. Now even the nuclear power workers are joining them, everyone. Stop the power, bring the country to its knees. You can’t just go on a march about it. It’s to do with a labour law they’re trying to pass, make people work longer hours. They had that passed here, no-one did anything.

It’s not always been like that. My dad worked in the shipyards, Glasgow. They went on strike in the early 70s, just shut everything down. In the yards, the miners, everyone out. They couldn’t afford TVs or cars… they saw the swinging Sixties, and that’s how people remember it, but they couldn’t afford to keep the family fed. So they stopped things. They fought for holiday pay, for decent wages. They had to. No-one was gonna give em it. Now that’s gone.

What’s stopping it here? Well I have quite a trade unionist family, but Scotland… it has a more radical tradition, it’s more European. People are more critical up there. The independence movement really got things going, stirred it up, but it’s older there, that feeling. England. I don’t know… It’s a way of being I think… Centuries of conditioning. The stiff upper lip, not responding to your emotions, just sitting on that anger and resentment. Docile! Yes, people just not asking about things. Some of my friends even in London, who’ve come here from other countries, they see themselves as here for a short time. They don’t give a shit, they want to be out of here. I don’t blame them, but it’s tough.

My best mate’s neighbour, she’s homophobic, a bit racist, ignorant… but they get on, she’s alright. She’s a single mum, got two kids, and she just works. She never votes. Does her shopping, always thinking about what she’s going to buy next, two week holiday in Spain… sometimes reads The Sun, always working. What a life. I call them ‘worker ants’. There’s a lot like that. And people being like that, head down, nothing changes.

I remember the young people at this project I used to work at. They’ve been brought up in that Thatcherite culture. There’d be a problem, and I’d say to them ‘there’s 79 other people here’, but it’s just me me me with them. ‘What are you going to do for me? These are my rights…’ We were never like that as kids. That neoliberal bullshit, it’s just seeped in. I don’t know. The riots… something’s got to change. We’re not paid enough, and we’re doing too much.

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