Several people have told me about their experiences of different ways of organising labour – in the form of collectives. Most recently a young woman talked enthusiastically to me about a women’s collective in London, that acted as a skills sharing network. Their organisation was about to set up an educational enterprise – again run with a collective structure. One of the good things she liked about the collective was an acknowledgement for the need for child care for working mums – this organisation provided free on-site creche facilities – something unheard of in many work environments.
Others recorded their experiences of working on a kibbutz.
“So we got a one-way ticket to Tel Aviv and just turned up at this kibbutz unannounced. Did loads of things there – from the polystyrene factory, the dining hall, working the cotton field, the nursery – a bit of everything. Absolutely loved it. Got up early in the morning, worked really hard, afternoons on the beach and got drunk in the evenings – brilliant. You’d get pocket money and coupons to buy stuff in the shop – I always bought chocolate – And you got given a ration of cigarettes. Yes, cigarettes! That was 1985.”
I came across an interesting story in The Newham Story, an online archive, about a local Plaistow collective, the Triangle Camp. In 1906 a local councillor tried to set up a scheme for unemployed men in the Queens Road area by taking over a piece of disused land for growing food. The press described them as ‘land grabbers’ and they were evicted from the land – happily, community growing schemes are more encouraged now. For more information and photo of the Triangle Camp – http://www.newhamstory.com/node/403
I would love to hear from anyone who has had experience of more recent work collectives in the East End.