In Hamburg activities were organized by the local syndicates of the Free Workers’ Union (FAU) as well as Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) on three different days. One focus was the support of the ongoing struggle of plantation workers on Margaret’s Hope Tea Garden (Darjeeling, West Bengal) for better working and living conditions. A seperate call to action was published as well.
The documentary Silence Flows which was created by fellow activists on the ground and informs about the working and living conditions of the tea plantation workers in the region was shown at the autonomous cultural centre Schwarze Katze (Black Cat). The screening was attended by about 20 people.
The FAU Hamburg and IWW Hamburg mobilized to a block on the general May Day rally that is antinational, anticapitalist and critical of the policies of the Federation of German Trade Unions (DGB), especially of their idea of “social partnership“.
All together more than 8,000 people joined the rally, which was made up of various blocks from different more or less leftist groups. And hundreds of flyers were distributed informing about the call for a Transcontinental May Day as well as the struggle of the tea plantation workers in Darjeeling.
A day after the May Day rally members of the local FAU and IWW gathered at the Gebrüder Wollenhaupt GmbH, a tea wholesaler in the region that also makes profits by selling tea from Margaret’s Hope.
Some pamphlets were distributed and a talk between two members of the syndicates and the Wollenhaupt management took place. The meeting was not organized in advance, so there was no time to prepare. Nonetheless it was used to inform about the two grassroots unions in Hamburg being in touch with the labour union of the plantation workers in Darjeeling (Chaay Bagan Sangram Samity, CBSS) and to forward their demands. Those include the implementation of a proper minimum wage and payment of outstanding wages, free supply of work equipment (e.g. boots to protect from snake bites), and proper medical facilities near the plantations.
The Wollenhaupt management agreed to consider contacting CBSS and that they will look into the problems put forward. Let’s see if this will increase the pressure on those responsible for the conditions on the ground. The local FAU and IWW syndicates will stay tuned.