July 23, 2007
The main space of the South London Gallery had for the Weasel festival an extremely garish, psychedelic, partially 3-D mural on the back wall, composed of blown-up photographs and drawings. A triangular, day-glo pink and blue stage was set up, its point directed at the main space. A wee bar was set up near the entrance. We Slackers (eight of us) had our final preparation meeting in the foyer over a huge tub of pineapple chunks. To the strains of the Errorists soundchecking in the main room we went through our programme and ironed out almost all ambiguities, decided who was doing and saying what and when. When we sang through our opening (and closing) tune, we were all immediately impressed with the warmth of the acoustics in the gallery. The words, a paraphrase of Goethe, are Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin it; just begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
People started arriving in dribs and drabs. When we started there were probably around 50 people in the room.
1. We dispersed among them and started singing the above song, in unison and then as a round.
2. Using placards with the lyrics on them, we gently tried to get people to sing a three-part number,this room singsmoving into the light simple, so-o-o simple
while wandering around the room. 3. Standing in a circle, we each said something about what Slackers are (leaderless and conductorless, angry and happy and hungry, inclined to sing in bandstands, not necessarily that worried about singing in tune, an antidote to cynicism, out to make your life just that bit more … confusing, etc).
4. Warm-ups: a quick selection of stretches and limb-shakes, face exercises, and ascending and descending arpeggios of the words We like to sing in the street which went amusingly high and low.
5. We divided people into four parts (low, high, middle-low and middle-high), getting them to stand around the room. We spoke through the song (Ke Arona) and explained it was an ANC song that meant All power to the people; our enemies are on the run. We sang it and then taught the parts to each group, two of us per group. There was a handful of people who stood back but mostly people were joining in. We had more lyric-placards to wave around.
6. After a mere five minutes’ practice or so (the room taking on a very relaxed workshoppy we sang it through altogether, and it sounded really good. Everyone clapped at the end and it certainly felt as if people had surprised themselves.
7. Finally Rachel and/or Cara explained how we sometimes change the lyrics of songs, and to demonstrate we hummed the first tune again, then sang it with the lyrics some of us had previewed in several branches of a certain coffeeshop chain in central London a couple of weeks ago: Whenever you drink coffee at Starbucks, remember, just remember: Starbucks, McDonalds, exploitation, innit. Starbucks, McDonalds, same old shit, innit. (NB ‘Innit’ is South London shorthand for ‘I daresay you would be happy to concur with the preceding sentiment, my good man.’) After a few goes through we went back to the Goethe-y version on which we ended. Carl announced that our next appearance would be at ‘ an airport near you‘.
The next acts, DJ Rubbish (a funny freestyle rapper and his dj) and The Errorists (a trio of cello, suitcase and vocals with a Morrocan(?) flavour), despite clearly being good, were done no favours by the echoey acoustics that had suited us so well. Feedback from friends and strangers alike was positive — the sense was that people had initially been embarrassed or scared, but settled into it and ended up enjoying it. The whole thing took half as long as we’d initially intended. My friend Joe described the experience as ‘liberating’ and I know what he means.
July 11, 2007
Come and sing with us on Saturday 21st July 8pm!
We’ll be singing some of our songs, showing how we work together – we spend just as much time negotiating how we sing and organise as we do singing – and that’s our special charm. Come and sing along. Your voice is just as important as ours !
We are interested in organising so that we can explore some possible answers to these questions: How can we rise to the challenge of working collaboratively? How can our voices become stronger?How can we collectively make decisions so that every voice counts? Artistic production is still very much an individual experience and since working in groups is one of the biggest challenges in our competitive and individualistic society, how can we learn to create in a more collaborative way?
A society with many different voices will survive better than a society with only a few voices, or only a few voices that are heard and acted upon.
Voice on, voice up, voice outward, voice towards, voice together,
voice = Você (in portuguese) meaning YOU, add in the ‘i’, and we get voice
And this is the rest of the line up. (this has been copied from myspace which I hate cos we’ve got to learn to live without Murdoch in our lives but SLG haven’t put the lineup on their own website)
July 11, 2007
Some SLACkers will be at Camberwell Squatted space Saturday 14th to sing our Starbucks songs in Solidarity with Starbucks workers
192 Warham St, off Camberwell New Rd, Camberwell SE5
bus: 36, 436 tube: oval
SATURDAY 14th STARBUCKS WORKERS ORGANISE
Film, talk and social in support of Starbucks workers organsing in US, UK, France, NZ and Germany. FILM: ‘Coffee Sirens’ plus talks from folks active against
Starbucks protest against union busting, London
Submitted by intexile on Thu, 03/08/2007 – 3:14pm. http://www.iww.org/en/node/3280
SOLIDARITY WITH VICTIMISED STARBUCKS WORKERS – FIVE STARBUCKS WORKERS SACKED FOR FORMING A UNION
For almost 3 years workers in Starbucks have been organising in their franchises in the USA. Starbucks have responded by waging a war of intimidation against the unionising workers. Already 5 employees have lost their jobs – Joseph Agins, Charles Fostrom, Evan Winterscheidt, Daniel Gross (Founder of the Starbucks Union) and Isis Saenz. This is a warning shot towards anyone attempting to improve work conditions. However, Starbucks workers have fought back: winning 2 workers their jobs back and more than $2000 in lost earnings. In New York City, workers have gained a 25% wage increase in just over 2 years, with similar raises in other areas they have organised.
“PLEASE DRINK SOMEWHERE ELSE TODAY”
We are asking the public to drink their coffee somewhere else, to protest Starbucks unfair practises. We also offer our support and assistance to any Starbucks barista considering organising his or her workplace. Regular pickets will be held at various franchises throughout South London to highlight Starbucks’ attacks on its workers, and to show solidarity with the 5 sacked workers in the USA.
WHY ORGANISE AT WORK?
Almost none of us really want to go to work in the morning. We do anyway because the rent and bills need paying, and we want money for ourselves (and our families), and maybe even a little bit for a social life! Sometimes however, things at your job can really get to be too much. The pay’s too low, the workload’s too tiring and management is always on your back. For many people, the immediate solution would be to find another job – only to find it’s exactly the same.
But there is another option. Together, we can fight to make our working lives more bearable. Coffee baristas in the States did just that, working together to form the Starbucks Workers Union (SWU) together with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Thus far they’ve organised 6 franchises in New York City alone, and Starbucks Union members exert influence in many other Starbucks outlets.
There are plenty of ways in which we can better our working lives. It could be as basic as covering for a workmate or as extreme as going on strike for better pay or hours. What’s important is that we stick together: working collectively for stuff that all of us want.
VICTORY IN THE USA, ORGANISING IN THE UK
The Starbucks Workers Union won a major victory over unfair labour practices, in a conflict between the world’s largest coffee chain and the baristas who work there. Faced with the prospect of having its widespread union-busting campaign exposed in a public hearing, Starbucks agreed to remedy many of the violations committed against workers who have organised a union. Workers from Leicester in this country recently followed suit and created Baristas United, which is open to employees of any coffee shop.
The Starbucks Workers Union is calling for Starbucks to recognize Ethiopia’s development of premium coffee varieties. If the rights to names such as Sidamo, Harar and Yirgacheffe were recognized, coffee farmers in Ethiopia would get almost £50 million extra per year. see www.starbucksunion.org
Only by sticking together can we improve our lives. The fired Starbucks workers sought to do that, and Starbucks are attempting to punish them for this. This cannot just be forgotten, and we must all stand together, and let Starbucks know they cannot get away with this. If you are interested in trying to organise, please speak to one of the people handing out these leaflets for information or a copy of our leaflet “Stuff your Boss doesn’t want you to know”.
This leaflet was produced by South London Solidarity Federation – you can contact us at email@example.com
July 11, 2007
How to respond to Starbucks’ call for choirs to sing and lead workshops in their stores?
We SLACkers welcomed their generous invitation and headed down to Oxford Circus. We tried singing a nice song with no particular politics but quickly got bored. How wrong of us to sing about workers’ exploitation. Shame we felt the need to bring up GM crops too. We kicked off with this one:
Starbucks’ domination of the world failed
Because their coffee tastes of shit
Putting small cafes out of business,
Stopping workers unionise.
Which went down badly with customers but surprisingly well with staff who honoured us with our very own Starbucks aprons.
Thanks guys! I’m not sure whether they wanted us to keep them but they were a great help in confusing customers in our next two Starbucks. “You’re singing about exploitation but you’re wearing Starbucks’ uniforms, are you for or against?” What’s going on? Well may you ask. We also had one customer apologise to us for being there.
Starbucks Borders were far too clever and sussed us right away. But we got so much applause from the coffee drinkers it was hard for them to chuck us out until we’d done our three songs. Then we left politely – But only because we’d run out of songs mind! Though we did a blast of
We’re gonna keep on hating Starbucks..
keep on hating Starbucks..
keep on hating Starbucks..
on the way out. Last stop and we got cheers and applause, and the workers invited us to stay and turned the radio off for us. Shame we had to leave really but they didn’t have any beer.