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Working-Class Solidarity in Practice

Dear Dan,

Things are okay with me. The working-class support group is coming along well. The last one was great, with half a dozen of us attending. It was the first time I had someone bring a friend along, and I thought I did well in thinking about him. My next move is to encourage some more support groups and teach a fundamentals class this year, which will be my first.

My washing machine and refrigerator repair course was a practical disaster, but I made friends with everyone in the class and got a bowling night organized.

This week I was hired as a casual factory hand in a huge printing factory in Alexandria. There are loads of factories in this area. Last night was my first night. It went fine. There were a couple of older men (machine operators) who have three or four sons between them working there; it adds something good. One of the men I worked with has worked there for thirty years and is retiring in one hundred days. He is great fun.

I've been out of work for a while so it's just good to be working. My idea at this stage is to get the hang of things (I had a few scary moments when I stopped the line by feeding stuff in wrong), make friends with my work-mates, and eventually teach some of them RC.

Recently, in an automotive course for the unemployed, a young man was getting attacked and humiliated. Everyone was either upset and scared or somehow confused by it, and no one would say anything. So I stuck up for him all day, saying that if the shit hits the fan, this guy isn't going to cop it because I will make sure people know what's going on. At one point a number of the people standing around him moved over to stand closer to me. I don't know if they noticed they did that, but I sure did, and it demonstrated for me that people will eventually be for rational policy. I felt the best I had in weeks that day. I think this is an important ingredient in my re-emergence-"having the guts" to stand up for what's right and not letting my patterns have me go scared and quiet.

Both of my parents did factory work most of their lives, and the classism told us we were disposable and not worth much. Somewhere I always knew this was wrong. I can't quite find the words I'm after, but your years of leadership of and commitment to the people you work with at the factory and the way you use your work to teach and build relationships mean a hell of a lot to me.

Jane Hyslop
Dulwich Hill, New South Wales, Australia


Last modified: 2020-07-01 08:29:46+00