Socialising Conflicts: Dedicated Unionist Initiates Successful Self-Organisation at School in Berlin

Unpaid overtime, unpaid school trips and no written labour contracts have been common at the Swedish school in Berlin for a long time. FAU's bimonthly newspaper Direkte Aktion asked a teacher, who is organised in the education section of FAU Berlin, to talk about his personal experiences and a conflict, which ended successfully due to its socialisation.

Here is a filed report.

Since summer 2010, I have been working at the Swedish school in Berlin. After a short time, my colleagues and me started to organise ourselves. As someone who is organised in a union, I soon became a thorn in the side of the school's governing body. My contract was limited to one school year and so, end of may 2011, I received the news that my contract has not been renewed. From that time on, I did not have to work. With my colleagues attending, I had to give back the key and leave the building.
Soon after that, I decided to contact the parents and tell them about the drama which was going on. I asked them to write down their opinion and send it to the governing body of the school. It did not take a long time, until my mail account was filled with mails from parents and pupils, the telephone rang all the time and children even started a Facebook-group named: "We want Johnny back!”. Parents met and discussed ways to pave me a way back to teaching.
Self-organisation was in full swing.

At the beginning of June, around 20 parents went to the school to complain about the situation They threatened not to leave the building until this problem is solved. After a mediating talk between me, my lawyer, the school's spokesman and parent's representatives, they gave me my job back on the following day.

This conflict reveals the explosive power of social anchorage. Union and non-union organising went hand in hand. They did not only extend my labour contract but they did also accept some of our demands we fought and went on strike for: from this autumn on, each work hour and school trip gets paid, a long awaited work- and faculty room will be furnished and written contracts are standard now for everyone.
A bolstering experience.

Johnny H.

Quelle: Direkte Aktion Sept./Okt. 2011
Translation Swe/Ger: Irene G.
Translation Ger/Engl.: FAU Internationales Sekretariat

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