"MayDay! MayDay! We are the precarious. We are hireable on demand, available on call, exploitable at will and firable at whim. We have become skillful jugglers of jobs and contortionists of flexibility. But beware: we are agitating with a common strategy to share our flexfights!"
In the highlight of the neoliberal economy based on immaterial production and flexible labour, ‘Precarity’ poetically catches the social and economic insecurity of our everyday life. For us: legal or illegalised migrants, unemployed workers without welfare-state guarantees, freelancers, temps, part-timers, students and flexworkers, ‘precarity’ means the permanent fragility of our income, job or housing.
‘Precarity’ is a codeword. It allows us to connect, communicate and circulate our localised flexfights. Across Europe and other continents, we’ve organised ourselves and showed our angry face through innovative actions: we’ve blocked commercial chains, occupied abandoned factories, interrupted the prime time news, stole champaign in supermarkets and showed our devotion to Saint Precarious at the MayDay Parade ...
The multilingual DVD “Precarity” is part of this ongoing experiment of distributed auto-organisation and collective self-defense. Through a compilation of 17 videos, “Precarity” links together diffuse aspects of precarity and features the unexpected and invisible insurgence of riotous précaires, agitating and striking for a new set of social rights through new and old modes of collective action.
A toolbox to investigate about the increasing precarisation of our existence
At the dark side of today’s postindustrialist economy, millions of casualized temps are stuck in ‘non-standard’ jobs, unable to make plans for the future, blackmailable because of the lack of union rights and excluded from basic social rights such as maternity, sick leave or the luxury of paid holidays. Through inquiries of social self-representation (Precarias A la Deriva, Madrid - Precarious in rebellion, MayDay Barcelona - Precarity Academy, MayDay Milan) the DVD “Precarity” shows how young précaires describe this state of emergency:
"The last week of the month, I don’t have any money left and then I get these kind of attacks of anxiousness and fear... – I have this kind of constantly cloudy view of the future…- Even if you have a job, you're underpaid and you usually work with a temporary contract, if you're lucky, they will renew for a month or two… – You don’t have a regular working schedule, nor the general labor conditions that somebody working in a factory has... – We have nothing, we have no papers, a lot of us are threatened with deportation... – Food, clothes, school, thousands of things. With 360 euros what can you pay? You can only pay the house and utilities... - We can't work any longer for low wages paying expensive rents... - Saint Precarious! We need a miracle! Free us from enslaving, precarious, flexible work! "
In the contemporary economy based on immaterial production, précaires aren’t peripheral, neither atypical. They are core producers of neoliberal wealth and creators of knowledge, style and culture, enclosed and appropriated by monopoly power. They are the around-the-clock 24/7 sophisticated servants that provide logistics, attention and care in the global metropolis. The DVD “Precarity” shows the familiar faces of these flex/temp/brain/chain/foreign-born workers of the franchises, supermarkets, theatres, sex-, care-, information & education industries:
"I worked in Telepizza – in McDonald’s - in a telemarketing company called Qualytel – in the Cirque du Soleil – as a writer/translator – as a music/language/dance teacher – as a sexworker – as a domestic servant – taking care of old people, children – in a call centre – in the hotel sector – in the cleaning industry – in the building industry - at the cinema cash desk - as a telecom technician – for Manpower – for Adecco – for Mondadori bookstore – for Zara – for Starbuck’s - ..."
An advertisement for a new brand of collective labor activism
From the occupation of abandoned factories in Argentina (The Take, Naomi Klein) and the struggle for a union of fired Telecom tempworkers (Friend or Foe, Korea) and Mexican Holiday Inn workers (Michael Moore, USA), to the impossible efforts of Bulgarian and Turkish textile workers to achieve the Olympic dream (NOlympism, Clean Clothes Campaign), the DVD “Precarity” gathers a series of transeuropean documentaries on the struggles of both casualized service and factory workers.The action methods of the précaires vary from traditional syndicalist action to innovative actions based on subvertising, culture jamming and media stunts : the occupation of the premises by McStrikers in Paris (McStrike, Paris), the picketing of chainstores open on Sunday's (Mayday Parade - Milan), the interruption of the French prime time news (Intermittents du spectacle, Paris), the devotion to Saint Precarious (Saint Precarious goes shopping, Milan), the reality hacking of the hot spots of consumerism (Chainworkers, Milan - YoMango-Tango, Barcelona - Adbusters, Japan) and the docu-fictions “Precarity Academy” (Teleimmagini, Mayday Parade Milan) and “Trash Contract” (UBU TV, Barcelona).
The videos on “Precarity” show the emerging of a new form of labor auto-organisation that is moving from the level of negotiation into reticular and direct-action based organization. 197 min of digital video are translated into 6 languages to enforce the building of a disruptive, socio-political identity and to demonstrate the possibility of insurrection beyond any classical trade union scheme of representation.
An instrument for the radical organization of the consumerized younger generation
The DVD is just one of the self-made communicative practices that aims at the interconnection of disparate flexfights. Together with the GreenPepper ‘Precarity’ issue, the Molleindustria EuroMayDay Netparade and videogames (TuboFlex & Tamatipico), the ‘church’ of Saint Precarious and the EuroMayDay advertising campaign 04 & 05, the DVD “Precarity” is part of a common strategy geared to young/female/foreign-born précaires that have no prior political experience other than the toil of their bodies and minds in the giant outlets of the chain stores, malls, transportation hubs and call centres of the Brave New Postmodern World.
An experiment in fightsharing and autonomous production and distribution
The DVD “Precarity” is the third episode of the DVD-zine “P2Pfightsharing”. It was born through the sharing of resources, material and skills throughout the networks of independent videomakers, media-activists, translators, authoring technicians and fightsharers. For “Precarity” all videos were translated in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Dutch and the subtitles can be reached through a language option on the DVD menu.
Table of contents & credits
This text is based on the Precarity Issue of the Greenpeppermagazine
The DVD "Precarity" and this text is published under the Creative Commons licence Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0 Netherlands