This is the sound recording of my talk about Autistic Workers, Trade Unions and Solidarity at the AutSpeak event on Thursday 12 January in London. The overall theme of the event was Building an Autistic Community. It was well-attended, and after the four panellists had finished speaking, a lively question-and-answer session took place.
A 20-minute PowerPoint presentation discussing whether Marxism can help us to understand autistic experience in modern capitalism, and how it might inform our struggles for liberation.
BT Conference Centre, Liverpool.
Details to follow.
"If a man ever raised his hand to me
I'd be gone."
Roars and applause from the studio audience
Put the shame-faced guest in her place
And the waves of clapping
Wash the blame
From him to her
The media is reporting that Susan Boyle may never perform live again, and that this is because of her Asperger Syndrome - implying that it is her autism that is the problem rather than the barriers that the entertainment industry puts in the way of autistic artists.
From struggling years her star had come to rise
When those judgemental judges were surprised
A frump like her could have a splendid voice
The admen and accountants full rejoiced
But putting on that mask was such a drain
Now Susan may not sing on stage again
Text of the George Lansbury Memorial Lecture, given on 16 November 2016 at Queen Mary University, London.
They’re backward, stupid, racist, sexist
They voted Trump, they voted Brexit
They must be mental, mad or sick
They’re racist and they’re thick
Good people didn’t vote this way
Bad people don’t do what we say
They don’t accept the politic
They’re racist and they’re thick
- France - Women trade unionists have been concentrating on increasing women's involvement in the unions, and on campaigning against violence against women. At Gare du Nord railway station, African women cleaners are often sexually assaulted by male bosses. Some men say that it does not matter, that women are making it up, or that they 'have a chip on their shoulder'.
- Italy - There is very good legislation on women's rights - for example on maternity - but the economic and cultural situation means that women are still disadvantaged. Italy has the lowest rate of women's employment in Europe, and needs investment in public services and industries to create jobs for women. As the government cuts welfare services, it relies on women to act as unpaid carers.
- Belgium - In the Port of Antwerp, an agreement has been signed by the union and the employer regarding women's employment on the docks. this emphasises equal recruitment policies rather than quotas. But the employers need challenging to ensure that they abide by the agreement.
- Netherlands - Some men - even some union men - say that women who work on the docks are taking men's jobs. And they say that if you do a 'man's job' then you must go along with 'men's humour' ie. sexist banter. As a minority, women are abused, whether through 'jokes' or touching. The solution is not new laws but the enforcement of existing laws, but the Inspectorate is understaffed. Migrant women workers are taken on in jobs with only a few hours work, and then told that they must give sexual favours to get more work. Women are not confident to complain about abuse, so the union is using organisers from other countries to speak to women in their own language.
- UK - I reported on the ScotRail victory and ongoing fight to defend guards' jobs; the abuse of women cleaners; the impact of ticket office clsures and de-staffing of stations.
- Many countries - A recurring theme in reports from the various countries is that European Union legislation is useful, but that it needs to be monitored and implemented, with sanctions against companies that do not abdie by gender equality policies. Employers find ways around legislation, so legislation is not enough.