Unions nurturing intersectional solidarity

Cover of the CWU zine in which this conversation was first published.

We started to think about the strike, because of wages, sick pay. This time teachers and people working in the university started to support us, security, cleaners, everybody knew about this situation. This was very important, it wasn’t only 7 people supporting the strike then. I remember I started to cry from surprise because the union encouraged students, teachers and everybody from three floors in the building with banners saying ‘We support you’.” An inspiring story from Olena, a worker in the café of the Greenwich University in London and member of United Voices of the World (UVW). Together with Vera, Ruth and Redon she talked about “nurturing intersectional solidarity” with Cultural Workers Unite (CWU), a worker-led collective fostering intersectional solidarity between precarious workers of cultural institutions in Rotterdam. CWU was represented by Lila and Jo, who is also a member of Doorbraak. The conversation took place in May.

Jo: “We’re live on Strike Radio! Hi to people who might be listening. Welcome and thanks for listening to our recording today. This is a conversation between Cultural Workers Unite (CWU) from Rotterdam and some people from United Voices of the World (UVW) in London. This is the first in a series of talks that we’re going to have with different people exploring the possibilities, stories and successes of unionising and the viability of a Cultural Workers Union in Rotterdam. This is part of the Anti-University programme that’s coinciding with May Day (Labour Day) called ‘Work in a time of global epidemic’ and we’re being hosted by Strike Radio. So the conversation today is called ‘Nurturing intersectional solidarity’. We’ll be talking a bit about fostering worker solidarity that is not bound by discipline or a ‘sector’. I’m Jo and I’m here with Lila from Cultural Workers Unite and we’ve invited Vera, Ruth, Redon and Olena from UVW, a grassroots workers union. Lila, do you want to introduce CWU?”

Lila: “CWU is a very new worker-led collective. We’re aiming to foster intersectional solidarity between precarious workers of cultural institutions around Rotterdam. We have different campaigns at the moment, but our long term goal is to ensure that the Rotterdam cultural sector is not dependant on exploited workers eg. low paid, uninsured, uncontracted, zero-hours, interns and volunteers. We are not mediators between institutions and governmental bodies, but we try to prioritise and amplify the voices of workers in discussions around labour rights. I can talk a little bit about what brought us into this series of interviews. The pandemic brought to the surface a lot of precarity, a lot of outsourced labour, a lot of flex-workers, a lot of problems that were the reason we first started becoming more active. Actually there are a lot of solidarity initiatives that have popped up which is great and we have been gathering momentum, but we’ve been thinking about how to bring it to a point beyond the ‘now’. It’s why we’ve been talking about the viability of forming a union and with this I wanted to invite everyone to introduce themselves and talk a bit about your organising. What is UVW and what other organising are you a part of at the moment?”

The broadcast on Soundcloud.

Vera: “Hi everyone, thanks for inviting me tonight. It’s really great to hear what you’re doing in the Netherlands and I think it’s always really inspiring to hear from other initiatives and one thing we should probably do more in the trade union movement is to learn from each other and to listen to each other. It’s really nice to be here. My name is Vera, I’m the co-founder of UVW, an independent grassroots trade union in the UK, mostly active in London. I’m also an executive of the United workers of Great Britain (WGB) which is another independent grassroots union in the UK. We are really sister unions and I was also part of creating this independent trade union a while ago, WGB we founded in 2012 and UVW founded in 2014. There are so many questions, I don’t really know where to start! Maybe I’ll start with why we exist. Why was there a need for independent trade unionism in London? I would say it was because what we are doing wasn’t there, we saw that a lot of the workforce wasn’t covered in the trade union movement. We can see this with membership numbers across the country, we see that precarious workers were less likely to be in a trade union, migrant workers were less likely to be in a trade union. If you were low-paid, you were less likely to be in a trade union, and so on. So there was a huge gap there and it started out of coincidences really, and the hunger for organising.”

Olena: “I am Olena, I live in the UK for 4.5 years. I started working for Greenwich University two years ago. I started working as a cleaner in Greenwich University first. What I understood when I started working in the second position in the café, is this is the same management, the same situation, still the same abuse about your job and responsibilities. I started to think, what happened, somebody must know how many jobs one person should do? This is a question I thought about a lot, and next I found Vera one day, and then I got support from people in the university like Ruth, there was very big support for us. If you aren’t from this country, it’s very hard to understand your director, how many jobs people should be doing, for this reason I was very glad to meet with Vera and Ruth, it was very amazing for me for them to explain everything, thank you so much!”

Redon: “My name is Redon, I’m part of the security team in University of Greenwich and I’m the secretary of IWGB of University of Greenwich. I just want to say that how important it is to participate in trade unions from my personal experience. When I started working in the University of Greenwich, I was working for a contracted company which offered security services. Actually we didn’t hear anything about unions, we had our problems within the team, but we didn’t know where to deliver our concerns because sometimes our concerns would fall on deaf ears. Vera was an initiator of gathering us into the IWGB union and we started as a small membership of the team and we just held meetings and it made us feel better. At a point we had a place to deliver our concerns. I would go and speak to my colleagues in regard to the union, for us to be heard and actually deliver our concerns because we were facing management who were part of a company who wanted to make a profit out of our jobs. Big big companies delivering these services who contracted us with low payment and they take huge amounts out of institutions. The most important part is that sometimes these companies hire vulnerable people who are in need of a job and they profit out of these situations. That’s why I wanted to join the union as a reformation of the management to work for vulnerable people.”

Ruth: “I’m also at Greenwich University, I’m with the Universities and Colleges union. Vera got me involved with Olena and the café workers because they were having lots of troubles in their area with the management, they were being treated very unfairly and there was a crisis situation starting with one worker. Vera got me involved because Redon, the security guards, Vera and Olena and the café workers, this is what makes our university, it’s the glue that holds the university together. Without these people the university cannot operate and yet they’re treated so badly by these big outsources companies, very low wages and very poor working conditions. This Covid crisis has shown that people like Redon and Olena are the glue that keeps our world operating. What I was struck by was the campaign that Olena was involved with. 7 café workers challenging a multi-national company. I was inspired by their courage and that’s why I got involved. The courage of Olena and the other café workers. Very insecure work but they were willing to stand up to a multi-national company. And the same with Redon and the security guards with the support of Vera, again taking on a multi-national company. It was extremely brave and inspiring and it was great because it actually helped our union mobilise around our own strike. They were the forerunners of the strike that happened over the last few months at Greenwich Uni. Olena and UVW, Redon and IWGB were all on strike and after that we went on strike and we managed to get a ballot where we had enough members to support the strike and I’m sure that those precursor strikes by the café workers and the security guards are what helped us.”

Redon: “I want to thank the café workers, as a result of their strike we were able to have a better condition of work. A new contract came up from the university, a huge contract actually which is about £120 million regarding all the facility management of the University of Greenwich. The terms and conditions that the new company are offering us are way better than the ones before and this is a result of the strike by the café workers and the union.”

Lila: “We invited you to talk with us under the theme ‘Nurturing intersectional solidarity’ because we have been really trying to think about solidarity that isn’t discipline bound. Especially in the cultural sector there is often an artist union or a musician’s union, or there are collective agreements for performers, but we haven’t found an organisation that holds all workers from the Host of the institution, security guard, the janitor, the technician, the curator, the IT people. We’re interested in what you were talking about Olena, Redon and Ruth about outsourcing. For outsourced labour (or flex-work here in the Netherlands) precarity is not discipline bound. You have precarity in all of those sectors. We have a campaign at the moment for flex-workers as a lot of them have been fired during the epidemic and a lot of them have been treated badly. They fall in between the gaps of governmental support programmes, so they can’t even apply for unemployment benefit. So, why is outsourced labour bad, why is it a problem?”

Olena: “Well, when we started working it was often very busy and there wasn’t enough staff in the coffee shop. For this situation sometimes we were exhausted because there wasn’t enough people to help us, we needed to do a lot of things at the same time. Next, the management started to press more, ‘do this, do that’. Some of my colleagues didn’t have sick pay because they weren’t contracted by the university, they weren’t able to rest at home because nobody can pay them. All of us together started to think because it’s a very hard job, there is too much stress on us from the management and next started people started to get stressed and weak. For example, our chef who is in the union as well, he started to have a problem with his hand, then a problem with his heart. He had too many jobs at the same time. When people push you more and more it’s impossible, they don’t appreciate you or say ’thank you very much’, we didn’t have support from the management. We have colleagues as well who have a problem with asthma, Ruth helped him a lot because sometimes he has a big asthma attack and doesn’t have the possibility to work.

Vera and Ruth told us about the union, they said ‘why don’t you join a union, someone can support you and help you with this situation’. We started to think about this and get interested in the union, Vera started to explain step by step what we must do, for me this was a new experience. My colleague who worked a long time in the university already had this experience as an English person living here. I was a little bit scared but I then it stopped because they didn’t stop pressuring us asking us ‘do this, do that’. Every time it was very busy, nobody supported us. There was one situation with the manager where he gave me a short time to do everything I was meant to do by myself. Vera started to explain the conditions we were meant to have, she explained going on strike. We started to think about the strike, because of wages, sick pay. This time teachers and people working in the university started to support us, security, cleaners, everybody knew about this situation. This was very important, it wasn’t only 7 people supporting the strike then. I remember I started to cry from surprise because the union encouraged students, teachers and everybody from three floors in the building with banners saying ‘We support you’. Every time they came to the coffee shop they asked ‘how are your conditions?’ People were very worried about us and our job, some students tell us ‘What, this is impossible to work when you’re sick!’ We started to see this very good vibe, because when we didn’t speak out the situation stayed the same, when we started to say ‘Hello, we’re here! We need support! We need respect!’ all of the university people respected us. Then we went on strike, with Vera and Ruth and everyone, I’ve never seen such a huge amount of people. Thank you so much to them!”

Jo: “Wow, you can really hear this growing solidarity that moved within the institution. It’s really inspiring. With Redon as well, it really shows this gathering of solidarity between different people within the university, do you have anything you’d like to say about the support that grew?”

Redon: “The university staff have always been supportive towards us, the only thing that I would mention is that they always think we are on the same conditions as they are. Actually because we create personal relationships with them and they respect us and our jobs as we represent the university, we have to work with the ethics of the university. We explained to them that we are not treated as well as they are. I can remember stories, one day I met a university staff member and I was telling him that I was close to the minimum living wage and he wouldn’t believe that. He would never think a university would accept to work with such a company that would have agreed to treat their staff in bare minimum conditions. That’s what gave us the motivation to join the union and to strike. We could see the solidarity that teachers, students, staff members gave us and we could then see the management that were indifferent to our concerns. This made the clash. From one part we know that we deserved more and the other part, the management were indifferent to our situation. I can say only my best words to university staff that were supportive. It was the best thing to achieve in many years, in fact it was maybe for 15 years that the university has contracted the security services and most of the time they’ve been on the minimum wage, maybe 30-50 pence over the minimum wage maximum. They never joined these gathering or unions, these societies where you can discuss your rights. This came as a new idea, after the strike we had a lot of members joining the unions and they believe and trust the unions now.”

Ruth: “Vera, you’ve been central in both the café workers and the security guard action and how they link together.”

Vera: “I just want to say that Redon, Ruth and Olena already gave a very good impression of what it’s like to work at the University of Greenwich. What you guys were saying earlier, who is really a cultural worker? Who is an essential worker? Especially during the Covid-19 crisis, what does it mean to be an essential worker? The whole assumption with outsourcing labour is that the university should only do its ‘key services’ and everything else which is not considered ‘key’ or ‘essential’ we can outsource and give to the private companies, because the belief is that private can ‘do better’. We heard from Ruth, Redon and Olena, these services are so essential. Who is still working now at the University of Greenwich? The security guards! And the academics, we’re all working from home. So it tells us what is essential. The problem with outsourcing especially is that it makes a middle man. The university contracts to various companies and for the security guards we know that the University of Greenwich used to pay £18.50 per hour that the security guard was working. The security guards would get less than half of that and everything else went to Mitie. We can already see they’re making a huge profit on the backs of the workers. But this is not enough for them, as Ruth said they’re multi-national companies and how do they make their profit? By continually squeezing. They will find every little way which means over time we see the work force gets reduced.

What does it mean if the workforce gets reduced? It means that the people who are still working have to work harder. Olena’s story about the stress because of the workload, it was just so high. We see it not only in here, but in the café at Greenwich University nearly all of the workers had a health condition. None of the café workers took a day off. Why not? Because they didn’t get paid when they didn’t go to work. Essentially we were forcing people to work sick all the time. Of course in the café it became a very big concern for everyone because if the chef is working sick then it’s a health concern for everyone that is eating there. It became very obvious. But it’s more serious than that, we see it all the time that people are dying because they’re working sick. In parallel with the campaign at the University of Greenwich we had a campaign with UVW and the ministry of Justice and two of our workers died during the pandemic. Why? Because they worked sick. Because they don’t get sick pay. So it’s not that we are asking a lot, we are asking a basic human right.

The problem with outsourcing is ‘the blame game’. As a union or a worker you would approach your employer, if it’s an outsourced company then you would approach the sub-contractor but then the sub-contractor would say ‘Oh, well, there’s nothing we can do about it because it’s really the university who is making the contract so it’s their fault. If they would pay US more we would love to pay our workers better.’ Then you speak to the university and the university says ‘Well, it’s nothing to do with us because it’s the sub-contractor who is the employer’. So you have the shifting of the blame and it’s a very strategic divide and rule sort of strategy. So what we have to do as a trade union is really cut through that and say ‘NO, sorry, but you are both responsible and we come for both of you.’ We come for the sub-contractor who will not care about their image, but we also come for the university so we directly hit where it hurts. We target the university and hit where it hurts.

I can say a bit more about the union strategy ‘Hit them where it hurts’, but also you don’t need a lot of workers. Obviously it’s good if everyone joins a union, but we have to think about what type of workforce we are working with. Most of the people who organise with UVW but also with the IWGB they’re new to trade union organising, none of them have been part of a trade union before. Obviously everyone is sceptical, like ‘why would you join a union?’ and the problem with the existing trade union mentality is that the workers are only protected if they have a problem if they have already joined the union in the past. But if you’re a worker and you have a problem and you only hear about the union when you have a problem (which is natural) the union movement would not be there. So with the independent trade union we sort of revised the strategy, we said we’re here for everyone, case work matters and this is how the core campaign in Greenwich came about. One person in the café had a problem and we were there for them. Then we up-scaled, from one individual case to a collective case because everyone is facing the same problem. And then we would do it with a few workers, not everyone, which again is against the tradition trade union model is that you recruit first, you have the base and the majority of the workers and only then you would go to action. But with the whole aspect of flexible work, and this might be something you are facing in the Netherlands as well, it’s very difficult to have the base. Who is the base? It changes all the time and you have all these problems so you need to act fast, right? As Redon explained earlier, if you have a few fighting workers and they fight and they win for everyone, then you create trust and then people join you later. It’s almost the other way around, you strike first and then the recruitment.”

Ruth: “I think it’s worthwhile if you explain how a handful of workers can be effective. You’ve got a particular technique, strategies, tactics that you can use with a small group of workers to be effective.”

Vera: “This brings us back to the power of solidarity, cross-sector solidarity and cross-workplace solidarity. An important thing to keep in mind is that every single campaign is different, every workplace is different, if there are several employers at the workplace they’ll all be different. It’s always about combining the strategic thinking about your workplace and where it’s vulnerable with the power of solidarity by uniting people. In Greenwich for example we can see: where is the university vulnerable? The university is vulnerable where there are students; at a graduation for example that’s a very vulnerable day for the university. Then we can think about who is the highest decision maker in the university, which is the board. We have a few people in the café and we want to change their conditions, so obviously it’s important that the café workers organise and the rule of IWGB and UVW is that we do nothing without the workers. It’s a worker-led campaign, we cannot do it for them. If the workers want to organise, we organise. One of our other strategies is that striking can be fun! It is fun! It’s about creating energy and creating community and it can be fun and disruptive at the same time.

So what we would do usually is bring different workers together, at UVW for example we had 5 different campaigns running together and we did coordinated strike action. So solidarity picketing is illegal in the UK, but none-the-less people joined in support and came to strikes, they weren’t at their workplaces. We stormed the building, we stormed the café which is located in the same building as the student union which is a very powerful organ in the university setting. It was a very rainy day and it was very hard! Another event we had was at the London School of Economics, we did a strike and it was a very lovely sunny day and it was just joy, it was basically a party! It’s fun creating community! In Greenwich the other thing we did, which goes along with the sort of trade union we are as we’re not a recognised trade union and we don’t have a bargaining position, the university would not talk to us and nor would the sub-contractor as if we weren’t there. But it doesn’t mean that they don’t negotiate with us, because in practice they do, and in theory they don’t.

What we would do is: we would write them emails and make our demands heard and what we were fighting for then was the London living wage for all outsourced workers, for sick pay and really also the end of outsourcing (for them to have the same conditions as in-house staff). What we did then was stormed the board meeting, just a few of us at first because we didn’t want to put the workers at risk. We found out where the secret location is that they meet and we did a little event, it wasn’t aggressive it was basically explaining ‘why are we doing this?’ It was a method to combine fun, community and solidarity with disruption where it hurts. I believe as well that the café workers strike at Greenwich really inspired us academics (as Ruth explained) to again have this community atmosphere at the strikes, at the picket line. We had a lot of lively pickets, it’s very powerful this kind of solidarity. With the café workers and the security guards, obviously we won, but they never talked to us directly they just made an announcement saying we got everything we wanted. The key message is: with a few people who are determined to fight you can achieve an awful lot if you combine it with the power of solidarity and disruptive and creative thinking.”

Lila: “That is very inspiring especially the way you were describing the starting conditions between the university and the outsourcing agencies. We’re dealing with exactly the same issue with a few institutions in Rotterdam. The fact that you don’t need every worker, you need a base to get things off the ground but these institutions they have such a high turnover with employees that’s it’s hard to keep a sense of community and solidarity. So maybe that’s the way they get power. I saw somewhere that during the London university strikes it said ‘precarity trickles up’ and I found it quite a strong message to create solidarity, even if you’re in a more privileged and comfortable position. What does solidarity mean now you’ve achieved your goal? What changed in the relationships that you have with other workers?”

Ruth: “I belong to UCU and IWGB, universities are interesting places because you’ve got such a diverse range of people: academics, students, café workers, security guards, professional staff. Building solidarity across groups of people, for instance with the University and Colleges Union (UCU) and the series of strikes we had recently we weren’t that successful in getting large numbers of students coming out in support of us. Other branches were better at getting student support; they were out to get support from the national student union. The fact we’d been helping with the café workers helped us get the student union on side as well. Our local student union had a reputation in the past of being very anti-academics, somewhat controlled by the management. There has been a change in leadership and so we’re able to develop some relationship with the leadership of the student union. This whole idea of just working with one specific type of workers, we need to break that down. As Vera explained it was getting people from all over London to the café workers strike. Certainly with our strike, some of the café workers gave donations to our strike fund. The security guards have their professional role to maintain security but having their friendly faces around rather than potentially hostile security guards really made the strike itself more successful. I’m trying to emphasize not to think in terms of only union activity but how you bring that solidarity across different groups. I’m sure it helped when students were personally supporting café workers, when they’d go and buy their dinner or lunch and talking to them about what was going on one-on-one. Students and academics being around for the strike, that’s what scares managers more than anything when they see this cross solidarity happening. That’s what scares them and makes them start listening!”

Jo: “Thanks Ruth, that leads us on to the ever present question of how to organise now we’re in this pandemic situation? You mentioned people having conversations, being able to share their experiences directly and coming together on picket lines. I wonder if any of you have any thoughts about what it is to organise at the moment? How do we come together and build and nurture solidarity in a time where we can’t be together?”

Ruth: “I think social media is playing quite a big role at least for us. It’s through social media that I can keep tabs on what’s happening across other unions as well. I knew that Redon had been elected as secretary of that branch of IWGB and I knew immediately that he had been elected.”

Vera: “I completely agree. One this I want to stress that Ruth already mentioned is that solidarity is something we’ve built, it’s not something that is automatically given. When we think of the roots of the trade union movement it was often assumed, especially with the ‘male bread winner’ that if you are in the same class or working position you would automatically show solidarity with each other because you have a shared identity. I think what really matters is that we come away from this thinking of solidarity, but what you’re saying is that we create intersectional solidarity, and what is this based on? So what is this based on? In my experience it takes a shared anger. Because we should be angry! Because all of us are getting screwed. In very different ways we are getting screwed. So to manage to harness this collective anger is important.

Then we need a shared vision, a vision of transforming something. We want social justice, we want better working conditions and therefore we stick together, really uniting. If we feel this and create this community, because with solidarity we are really creating community, this is what makes us strong. Management will come in and try to divide us, always. They will do all types of methods, they will come after people who are in a trade union and try to bully them. Both Redon and Olena faced bullying from managers because they are in a trade union, it’s trade union victimisation and we see it all the time. But it also come in terms of the carrot on the stick, being bribed or offered a better position. Or playing one worker against another. This is what we really have to come against. What does it show us in the current crisis is that because it’s a process of what we’ve already built, we have to continue building it and we have to be really creative with it. Now is a time where we get reminded of core values. We have time to reflect and see what is essential. What are the essential services? Why outsource essential services? Why privatise our healthcare system? Now is a time when we see it will be better in public ownership.

We will find ways to link up. It depends on the sector you’re organising in and your context, but what we’ve seen is that it was much easier to organise zoom meetings with the security guards and we had better attendance over zoom then we ever had in person. A. because people were reminded of how important a union is and victory is kicking in because people are getting a pay rise in May, but also B. how the shifts are allocated, security guards work from 7.00-19.00 then again from 19.00-7.00, there is a day shift and a night shift so 24 hours are covered. There is always someone working! Now we have the time to have meetings with everyone which is brilliant! You mentioned about precarity trickling up and in the roots of UVW we started with cleaners organising because friends of ours were in the cleaning industry and we realised there are really common problems that migrants get exploited because of the lack of English, they’re more easily exploitable and we saw a massive amount of wage theft and a massive amount of abuse. That’s why our slogan is ‘Dignity and respect’.

We started by fighting low wages in the cleaning industry. When couriers started joining IWGB they said your slogan is ‘No longer invisible’, as cleaners that was our slogan because we clean in the mornings but no one is noticing us. The Deliveroo guys were saying ‘Hang on, no one is seeing us, I’m delivering to a servant’s entrance, I’m also invisible and I want to become visible and fight for my rights. I’m also not earning the London living wage if you break it down.’ And now lawyers and barristers started joining us because if you really work out how many hours you’re working and how much you get paid it’s below the London Living Wage. At the same time in the university sector, academics and teaching staff are very precarious. Short term contracts, very low wages if you really work out how long it takes to prepare a lecture and mark essays. It’s a low paid job essentially. To find out the commonalties and to harvest this collective anger in a community spirit is the key message.”

Lila: “As we get towards the end of the discussion I want to bring it back to Redon and Olena, what do you do now that you’ve achieved better pay and better working conditions?”

Olena: “For now we started to receive the London living wage and sick pay as well. Conditions we have for now are the same, there is not enough staff for the Covid virus time, the students are coming less, a lot of things are changing including the management. More colleagues have joined the union. Recently the economic situation of the café isn’t so good because staff and students started to boycott, this is another kind of solidarity. For now this is the situation, of course everything is changing. The high-up managers started to respect us more, but we’ll see, sometimes they come to have a very polite conversation. But once again, new manager, new rules, it changes everything. In one year we’ve had three managers! This is hard, and people need to think why people keep leaving this job.”

Redon: “It’s important to protect what we want; we have to protect the dignity and respect we want from the management and the university. By going on strike we show them we have dignity, we are not invisible, we are part of the university and we have the same dignity as everybody else there. Secondly, these companies who are based on service, they are very into numbers, their businesses are profiting from people and offering a service for paying less money to you. What we have to do is keep the conditions that we want, better salary and having a representation in the union and the university. We are asking to be legal representatives of the union towards the company and the university and to have a chair in meetings with them.”

Jo: “You’re right about continuing to protect these rights you’ve fought for. This conversation really gives hope about changing things here in Rotterdam and this dependency on flex-work especially in relation to your campaign in cultural institutions here.”

Vera: “Just to mention two more things, we still have a long fight ahead of us. What we didn’t win yet in Greenwich is the end of outsourcing and I really want to stress that it’s the nature of outsourcing that squeezes us workers more. It’s really important we keep this in mind, now a new company came in and we won conditions we fought for, but in the end it would be much better for the university and for us if we get rid of outsourcing entirely so companies don’t take a cut and so we know clearly that responsibility for all workers in the institution are with the university. At the moment it’s with the client, and as a union strategy we want to cut through the triangle and go straight to the client. As a closing statement I just want to say the amount of courage that Redon and Olena showed going out and facing your employer for the first time. I actually think that during this Covid crisis there is a lot of talk about fear and how fear is contagious. But so is courage. Seeing Olena fighting, she’s a big fighter! Redon is now our lead negotiator with the big company to put forward our demands and make sure the victories we’ve won are secure. Often they give with one hand and take with the other, so we are on guard. These two fighters and the whole group of the café workers have inspired us. This is what Ruth was saying earlier, us academics became braver and more creative in our fight. So let’s spread courage!”