Mahala (The Slum) is an informal group and an organizing platform formed around common values such as: social justice, the respect for human dignity, economical, political and gender equality, liberty, consensus, solidarity, anti-authoritarianism etc.. Our goal is to help workers from formal and informal economies, on a national and international level to organize and struggle for better working conditions, more rights, higher pay and the emancipation from the current economical system. Under the impulse of constant economic change, capital owners driven by greed, market competition or just the need to accumulate as much wealth as possible, constantly erode the rights of workers, sacrificing the stability of working places on the altar of flexible and efficient labor markets. We wish to relight the flame of revolt, the desires of the workers to struggle for their rights, to get out of the current passive state induced by the bureaucracy and treacherous discourses of most trade unions and last but not least to eliminate the fear they feel of their employer, a state of fear maintained by being isolated from their colleagues.
Why the name Mahala?
The name is chosen on purpose with the goal to change the terms pejorative meaning and the exclusionary effect it has when describing communities. Our discourse is an integrating, inclusive and unifying one; one in which we recognize the value of every human living in such communities, eliminating the mental and sometimes physical barriers which separate those who identify with the mahala and those who don’t. As we perceive it today, it is a description of precarity and so we can observe that the condition of the worker is deteriorating exactly towards this social-economical description, forcing us to ignore this reality and the identity of the worker, one which we need to restart acknowledging and internalising. Also, the mahala, defines a cultural resistance of its residence towards the so called norms of “civilization”, one which enables them to develop their own customs, expressions, social relations etc., which normally shock the outside but ends up influencing it. Worker, wage earner, staff, colleague, laborer, regardless of the term that describes our status at the workplace, we are all active elements of the mahala, of society and it is exactly this capacity of the worker to resist which should transform in a will to struggle for their rights, individual or collective, for prosperity, dignity and emancipation.
Solidarity and mutual aid
We know that all individuals who are part of a community matter, and that people, regardless of skills and talents, can be useful to their kin. That is why the Mahala community doesn’t work only on the principle of voluntary association, but also on that of solidarity and mutual aid. We are not an organization which only offers help and advice to workers, but a community of workers who struggle for better and fairer working conditions for everybody, who fight against exploitation and abuse at the workplace. We struggle for a better society starting from each individual. Those who ask for our help we ask that they offer theirs in return: from offering us information about other workers in their communities who work in hostile workplaces, passing on the message to friends and families, donating or helping other people with using the skills they have gained in their field of activity, or simply just being there and offering support for other struggling workers. So for us solidarity and mutual aid constitute key elements for creating a community of militant workers who reject the current economic system.