The following is an extract from a longer document written in March
1997 by a social centre based in Venice. Taking as its starting point the
spread of casualised working conditions, it argues that those whom the fHuman
Committee in London have recently dubbed the 'quasi-employed' are likely
in the near future to become a majority within the working class. True or
not on a broader front, such a conclusion is certainly far from implausible
for a city whose labour market is regulated by the ebbs and flows of the
Having discussed some of the demands which commonly circulate within
the social centres -- a shortened social working day, a 'third sector'
of self-managed production, and a guaranteed minimum income -- its authors
turn to the question of organisation:
How can we begin to experiment, around these programmatic elements, with this new class composition's trajectories of struggle and organisation? How to overturn the flexibility, mobility, and casualisation of social labour against the bosses, as the mass worker once overturned the rigidity of work organisation within the assembly line of the taylorist-fordist factory?
We are still on the level of experimentation, but therein lies an enormous
potentiality which is as yet unexpressed. This new class composition based
upon flexible, precarious, territorially mobile labour courses through the
Social Centres in a material sense; the centres are shot through by that
social fissure produced by students who are no longer only students, by
unemployed people who are no longer simply unemployed, by workers who are
no longer wage labourers in a classical sense; the social centres are produced
by this new class composition within which -- amongst other things -- migrant
labour power (which is the most disposable, obviously, to the most mobile,
flexible and badly paid jobs) holds full citizenship.
In terms of organisational forms, too, everything has yet to be invented
and experimented with for this flexible labour power. The classical 'union'
form, or the rank and file committee (Cobas) rooted within the workplace,
are obsolete organisational formulas, given that this flexible labour power
no longer has a classical, fixed, 'place of work'. Some comrades have evoked
the epic of the American Wobblies (Industrial Workers of the World) at the
turn of the century. Perhaps we need our own Wobblies of the dispersed metropoles
and the mobile network of sabotage and territorial counterpower, to construct
the foundations of the new bill of rights of the postfordist worker.
Rather than a Cobas, we need an organised autonomous subjectivity, one
that finds its common identity and aggregation on a territorial basis, around
its own independent space of sociality. Territorially mobile, able to intervene
with all means necessary, from legal aid (using what still remains of the
labour laws from the fordist period) to boycotts against abuses of power,
violations of rights, unregulated forms of exploitation, for the real defence
of the new class of workers, from the area of casualised social labour to
Why not then set up, starting in each social centre, Wobbly agencies
-- or better Fobbly agencies (Flexible Workers of the World) -- so as to
begin to (self)organise on this terrain of flexible and precarious labour?
Agencies that can begin with an enquiry into all the forms of atypical
contracts used in the sphere of flexible employed labour: fixed term, part
time, apprenticeships, training, seasonal, temping, off the books etc.
Agencies which above all begin with an enquiry into the flexible jobs
existing in the specific territory, mapping out the various flexible forms
of work and those who employ them, with questionnaires circulated during
each social centre's initiatives, with direct interviews, with the realisation
that the comrades of the social centres themselves do the most flexible
and absurd jobs, but without ever thinking to organise themsleves on this
front . . .