On 29 July 2023 we held the first Troublemakers At Work conference in Manchester. Despite a rail strike 165 people took part in person, plus about 20 online. Rather than being talked at or reminded why we need to fight, attendees met new people, shared practical experiences, learned from each other and built connections. The energy and buzz continued into the evening at the fundraiser for the RMT hosted by Gig Economy.
The conference consisted of participatory sessions led by activists and organisers, based on proposals received after an open invitation. It had a rank-and-file orientation – focusing on building workers’ own collective power and how we can democratically control our unions. On the Friday evening before the conference, Hazards ran a free session for participants to learn how to build their own Covid air filter by making the ones used at the conference. Some groups kept the filters after the conference.
You can read the conference programme here. As well as information about the two plenaries and eight workshops (not including the break-outs by industry), the programme includes details of the organisations which sponsored the conference.
This short video gives a glimpse of the day:
Our conference was organised by a democratic committee, without affiliation to political parties or particular unions. We are proudly supported by some serious organisations trying to build the most powerful workers movement possible, including Workers Can Win!, Strike Map and Organise Now!
To make the event accessible, we held the event at Friends Meeting House Manchester, had Covid air filters in most rooms, provided financial support for attendees who needed it, and block-booked ‘pay as you feel’ accommodation to assist people who couldn’t travel on the day – a greater number due to the rail strike. Both plenaries and some of the workshops could be joined remotely by Zoom, with captions enabled. We planned to provide free, professional childcare, but received no bookings for this, so provided financial support for individual arrangements instead. We planned to provide British Sign Language interpretation in at least one room, but received no bookings from people who needed this.
You can support Troublemakers by buying one of our picket-line-friendly t-shirts for just £10:
Troublemakers At Work 2023 was part-funded by the Barry Amiel & Norman Melburn Trust, The Lipman-Miliband Trust and the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung.