Horeca United: “We are the people sustaining this industry, we are horeca!” (video)

The speech by two members of Horeca United, last Sunday at the Mayday celebration in Utrecht.

Hello, we’re Horeca United, a newly founded collective of hospitality workers, for hospitality workers by hospitality workers, in Amsterdam. Together, we’re building a grassroots solidarity network for everyone employed in the hospitality service.

Our goal is to create better working conditions, because it’s bad enough that we have to work to survive in this capitalist hellscape, but at least, at least our legal rights don’t need to be abused on top of that. We suffered too long from the same conditions that everybody in horeca knows. And they know what I talk about.

No more ten to twelve hour shifts, without even having time to take a break or go to the bathroom, no more eating standing up with your eye at the door waiting to see if more customers are walking in that need your immediate attention. They say that this is how the industry is and we need to accept it. And we assume that as well, that our abuse is the expense that it takes to work in horeca.

This industry though is being kept alive by us, who cook and serve food, by those who clean hotel rooms and scrub the floors each night. We are the people sustaining this industry, we are horeca!

But today, more than ever, horeca workers have the power to decide what conditions and pay we want. There is a nation-wide shortage of horeca workers at the moment. Businesses are desperate for new workers. The power that we have to walk away from this industry, is the same one that we have to fight for better conditions.

We believe in our collective power as workers to improve our lives, to organize and find our own solutions to these issues. Waiting for the state to fix this is not a solution anymore. It’s not an option. We don’t have to accept abuse and exploitation as part of our work. They say that if we can’t handle the conditions, we should leave, we should find a different job. Find a new restaurant and a new hotel. We say it’s time to unite and fight back, because we know that we can have work that we are not ashamed of.

That’s right, because the time to fight back is right now, it’s today, yesterday. We’re the only ones who can free ourselves, and we already started. It’s kinda maybe a privilege or unlikely that we should stand up and say “we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna free ourselves”, but we come from Vloerwerk! You guys know Vloerwerk? Vloerwerk is a solidarity network that’s been around for like six, seven years, and they won most most, pretty much all, of their conflicts, direct actions, self-organized, anti-hierarchic and that’s exactly what we are going to do.

Just like the Radical Riders, who just came from Vloerwerk last year and already outnumber them. So that’s fucking great. There’s a complete new movement going on, and everybody can do the same: talk to your collegues, talk to your comrades, start a movement just like this one, or join this one if you want. Because Amsterdam or Utrecht: go for it!

Because we’re not waiting for anyone, we’re not waiting for the state, we’re not waiting for the FNV, because they don’t get us. We know what’s wrong with the industry. We don’t sit far away in fancy offices and talk about some bougy ass crap. We’re fighting now, we’re fighting back. And we shall talk to them, we’re calling all the bosses to listen to us, and if they don’t listen, we will remind them. And if they don’t do what we say, we’ll fight oppression. That’s what everyone should do!

Horeca United!

More on the Utrecht MayDay celebration: