On 22 June, dozens of activists where standing at the door of the Assen branch of shoe chain Scapino, making noise and throwing shoes (not at people). Scapino had just suspended one of the most active union members. “If you let that pass, soon there will be no-one left daring to be active for the union,” organiser Bart Plaatje of FNV Bondgenoten said. Therefore, Scapino was selected as the first target of a group of some forty activists which has been formed to support union members who are in trouble.
“Going to court can easily take two years. That’s too long,” Plaatje said. Therefore, a group of activists has been formed that can act fast. The group consists of relatively young union members with diverse backgrounds. Many have their roots in organising campaigns in retail, in cleaning and at the Utrecht academic hospital.
Would it not be better for workers to organise rather than call for help from the outside? Plaatje: “Of course it’s important for them to organise. It shouldn’t be like I’ll call the union, they’ll solve my problem. But sometimes, they need a leg up. At Scapino, local workers were afraid to stand up for their rights, they were afraid of repercussions. Since the protest, the union has become stronger there, new leaders have stepped forward.”
Further, the support the club offers comes with strings attached. “If we help workers at a certain company, we ask them to join the group and help out if there’s a protest at another company. This way, the group grows. After the Assen protest, 8 Scapino workers joined us.”
People who would like to participate in actions can join the Fozziebeer Hyves, the online nerve centre of the group. Workers who require assistance can also report there.