Ethics Code (April 2012 draft)
The document below is our code of ethics, a kind of collectively edited compass that helps us orient, define and do our work as a group and network. This is a document that will always be in draft form, since our considerations on ethics evolve with time and different experiences. This is not law but rather constitutes an attempt at instituting our practice/s with view to consistency, and generate a space for reflection on our collective processes.
PWB: THE BIGGER PICTURE. WHY ARE WE HERE?
- We want to be an organising group, working with people in the education and cultural sectors, in solidarity with other groups working on issues of precarity.
- We operate a critical analysis and invent resistant practices to neoliberal capitalism and the different ways in which it produces precarity.
- We want to develop a differentiated approach to (self-)‘organising’ that neither consists in ‘organising others’ nor in just reflecting on ourselves.
- We want to bring new people into the group and campaigns when appropriate.
- We want to be in solidarity and collaboration with other groups.
- We make use of creative and analytic training to engage in direct action and campaigns towards concrete change.
- We engage in consciousness-raising (but not in circumstances in which we know that everyone is already conscious but inactive).
- We want to strike a balance between organising work on the ground (eg. campaigns, demonstrations, etc.), administration and the ‘representational’ (eg. writing texts, giving talks, workshops, etc.) and organising aspects of our work – whilst recognising that they are not necessarily separate activites, but inter-connect.
- We would like to ensure that roles do not get fixed and that work is recognized and valued within the group.
- We operate both as a group and a network, and try to find different modalities of participation between these.
Our main organisational platforms
1. Mailing List The mailing list is conceived more as a space of communicating across the network, also with people who are not at our meetings regularly. It’s for circulating invitations to events and ours as well as other meetings and sharing info about ongoing campaigns.
2. Online platform Cr*bgrass is a working space for PWB as a group of groups. Here we discuss and work internally. (Not publicly accessible.)
Meeting protocol: We conduct meetings by rough consensus. At each meeting we rotate roles including: the chair, the scribe, the timekeeper, the affect thermometer. Points are carried from one meeting to another via the agenda. We encourage people to send apologies and confirm attendance at meetings. Agenda points are collected on crabgrass previous to meetings. At the fortnightly meetings, we each give £2-3 to someone who volunteers to buy food for the next fortnightly meeting.
Meeting routine: We meet fortnightly. Working groups may chose to meet in the intervening weeks. Every once in a while (when we want to invite new people into a campaign or project that can accommodate them) we hold open meetings or drop-ins.
AREAS OF OUR WORK
Decisions are made in face to face meetings (not on email). They are made by discussion in relation to our aims, commitments and the conditions of work to which we have agreed (see below). This is especially important in the case of invitations to write or participate in events. This will sometimes mean explaining to those who invite us, that we require time to deliberate. If this time is not given, we will have to say no. Pending decisions on invitations should be announced on email or crabgrass prior to our fortnightly meetings. Decisions are made by those who attend. When decisions are taken at smaller meetings, they are announced on crabgrass and everyone is given 1-2 weeks (up to the group to chose) to consider them. If people want to object to the point of blocking a decision, they themselves become responsible for setting a date for a next meeting to re-discuss (and they have to be there themselves). Otherwise we take there to be rough consensus.
We value the educational possibilities of our work in direct action and campaigning and whenever possible we will take the opportunity to teach and learn from each other. We want to ensure that roles do not become fixed and that people are able to develop new skills.
Our work is organized through working groups, some of which are ongoing and others of which are ad hoc. They include: different campaigns, press, education, working conditions, ethics, etc. These groups appear as ‘committees’ on crabgrass. Working groups have their separate communications via email and sms. If someone expresses interest in a working group, they are included in those communications, even if they don’t always join meetings. Working groups try to keep each other updated of important meetings (cr+bgrass).
Solidarity and Collaborations with other Groups or Institutions
When we engage in a collaboration or solidarity campaign with others, we make sure there is at least 2 people in the PWB who are willing to form a delegation that takes this on. Communications work via email or sms between people wanting to be part of the delegation. In engaging with other groups, we take ourselves seriously as PWB, and interact with them as a collective, not just as individuals.
Administrative tasks such as blogs, email lists, bank accounts will be undertaken on rotation and discussed at the administration meeting. We log all pending tasks on the crabgrass ‘tasks’ page: every once in a while we check this, and if we find that we have a lot of things to catch up with, we dedicate the next few working sessions to this and take on no more new tasks/work until some of the old tasks are done.
Our work is produced, signed and presented collectively involving at least two persons. This means we don’t sign with individual names, or appear as individuals on behalf of the group.
The money we earn as a collective goes into our collective bank account (there are 3 treasurers/signatories). No one earns individual money via PWB. We put our money into: - campaigns and direct action (printing, props, …) - reproductive activities: food for meetings tbd, occasional collective leisure activities, dinners, drinks after a meeting - paying for travel etc especially for people in financial difficulty
We want to strike a balance between inventing new tools and using the ones we have already developed. We will archive the tools that we use in re-usable formats i.e. toolkits to share with others. Tools/infos such as:
- The counterguide to free labour (eg. sample contracts, fake references, letters to intern employers, … )
- Direct Action/Agit Prop ideas
- Pre-protest organising and workshops: building a carrot block
- Ethics code
- Pedagogical tools for workshops
- Info box at the end of publications
- Time/work mapping
- Alternative curriculum
- How to run an internship fair
- How to make a Peoples Tribunal
- Sexy statistics
MINIMUM CONDITIONS: WHEN WE SAY YES AND WHEN WE SAY NO
The below criteria is to help deal with invitations and opportunities. It is not meant to be bureaucratic but made so that we do not waste our time, creative power, resources or focus. It can be used as a checklist.
We say yes when:
- There are at least two members willing and interested in working on it and it is realistic for them to do so.
- The opportunity does not take significant time away from our goals for that period
- When accepting an invite, we not only require 2 or more people to drive the work but we also evaluate how long this process will last, how much time and resources it will involve, and if other PWBers will have to come in at a later stage.
- There is an opportunity for action/organization in relation to one of our campaigns or the issue of precarity
- There is a pedagogical opportunity to raise awareness: in this case we are more careful about accepting. If invited to give a talk or workshop in an institution, we make sure to 1.)get fair pay 2.)have a trusting connection with someone in the institution who can carry the work around precarity forward there: we do the groundbreaking, opening conversations so others can continue.
- There is something new for us to learn
- Gives opportunity for older and newer members of the group to work together
- There is a fee for more than one person (unless a grassroots political meeting)
- Travel expenses are covered for more than one person (unless a grassroots political meeting)
- The opportunity supports a copyleft or non-proprietary circulation of work
- The group reaches rough consensus on the value of the opportunity.
- The one delivering the invitation is willing to publish a box containing the basic working conditions that went into the project. Or in the case of an event: we present this information live every time.
We say no when:
- The opportunity is for profit and/or there is public funding involved and there is no fee.
- The opportunity is for profit and/or there is public funding involved and there is no travel covered.
- The opportunity is for profit and/or there is public funding and does not support participation of at least two group members.
- If these requirements are not fulfilled we will explain why.