The International Week Against Unpaid Wages was established in 2019 by the International Workers’ Association (IWA) to point out to the phenomenon of unpaid wages and the possibilities to fight back using anarchosyndicalist methods. This year it will take place from 11th to 17th October. Your participation is more than welcome. Do you have experience with unpaid wages? Would you like to propagate the topic in the streets in your neighbourhood or on social media? Would you like to get involved in actions against exploitation of workers not only during one week of the year and not only regarding unpaid wages? Get in touch, together we can achieve more!
International Week Against Unpaid Wages. Why?
We live in a society where we have to work for money to survive. We need money for food, housing, education, health, but also for culture, recreation or leisure activities, etc. We often have a hard time to cover all our expenses, so when it happens that we are not paid our wage, it has drastic consequences for us and for the people who rely on us.
Unpaid wages is a phenomenon so widespread and so harshly affecting our lives that the International Workers’ Association (IWA) has decided to establish the third week of October each year as the International Week Against Unpaid Wages. During the week, unions affiliated to the IWA raise awareness about the topic, organise protest actions in front of companies that do not pay wages and, in general, speak about how the problem can be tackled in practice.
Examples of such activities can be found, for example, in an article evaluating last year’s International Week Against Unpaid Wages here: https://iwa-ait.org/content/international-week-against-unpaid-wages-supp.... We will inform about more during the third week of October.
How We Fight
We help each other, we inform, we mobilize, we protest. Through collective action, we are try to hit the bosses where their profits and power are made. We act as a group, as a union, and show them that the problems they cause are not related to individuals, but to a wider community that has come together and fights together.
We organise direct actions, i.e. collective protest actions - these can be “pickets” outside workplaces, blockades, informing about harmful company practices, exposing the practices to business partners, boycott of products or services, international solidarity campaigns, or even visiting the responsible people in the place of their residence, and so on.
Bosses know that they can easily get away with non-payment of wages (including probationary pay, overtime bonuses, compensation for wages and salaries, etc.). Especially in workplaces with questionable (or no) contracts and informal verbal agreements. In general, however, if workers manage to come together, if they do not get intimidated and if they rely not on the courts but on their own abilities and actively engage in the struggle, they stand a good chance of getting their wages back. And if they act through unions, the chances of not only getting the wages they are owed, but also of improving the situation in the workplace increase.
How you can get involved in the International Week Against Unpaid Wages
- If your boss owes you wages and you want to act, contact us.
- Share your experience of how you managed to get your owed wages.
- Distribute promotional materials on the topic (stickers or posters) in your area.
- Share posts about the topic on social media.
- In general, get involved in struggles against workers exploitation in your area.
The anarchosyndicalist approach
While we consider the direct action tactics to be a very effective tool to achieve payment of owed wages, we recognise that even if we won all the wages owed, we will not stop this phenomenon. The nature of the capitalist system will always play into the hands of the bosses and allow them to try tricks on us. That is why we do not call for “fair” wages or treatment. The problem is the wage system itself, which uses our labour to enrich itself and at the expense of society. Nor do we think that direct actions are an end in themselves. It is very important that they involve collective organising, decision-making, sharing experiences and overall building of culture of mutual aid.
After all, the aim of the unions associated in the IWA is not just to achieve short-term material victories. We are aware that the day-to-day struggle against unpaid wages is only a reaction to the immediate problem. But while it is a defensive struggle, it is also part of our broader, long-term struggle for fundamental changes in society.
We want a world in which people’s needs are paramount. Without capitalism and its production for profit, which has brought us to the brink of ecological catastrophe. Without hierarchies in all spheres of social life that artificially divide us and are a breeding ground for inequality and oppression. And without the state as the saviour of capitalism and the holder of power over society. We don’t need any of these to live a happy life and to develop society.
That's why we organise and band together with workers around the world. If our approach is close to your heart, contact us.
To learn more about the IWA, visit www.iwa-ait.org.