• Never cross a picket line
  • nevercross-featured
  • Jaakko Karhunen & Aino-Marjatta Mäki
  • Never Cross a Picket Line
  • Never Cross a Picket Line
  • Never Cross a Picket Line

Aino-Marjatta Mäki, Jaakko Karhunen


Jätkä 2 16.11.-1.12.2013

Never cross a picket line

A Tragedy in one act


Galleria Huuto Jätkäsaari 2


THE CLAMOR OF STRUGGLE seminar, Saturday 30.11.2013 at 1-5 pm


*Never cross a picket line* is an old saying which means that you should
never work during a strike. The Finnish word for a picket line is
*lakkovartio* (”strike guard”), which does not include a spatial
restriction unlike the English term. A picket line is a physical boundary
and once crossed you cannot return.

We have been sitting in various office spaces and meeting rooms discussing
what the meaning of work is today. We chose union and temporary work agency
employees as well as business consultants to take part in the discussion
sessions because the institutions they represent control and organize the
workforce but are not directly involved in the actual production. They are
not speaking as the voice of the institutions, but instead they speak as
private individuals who have extensive experience from the labor market.

Our aim was to draw a line between different positions, to find
controversy over the meaning of work. Everyone agreed that work is
necessary, that people have to work more and that work is changing, but
that’s where the similarities end. Work is deemed necessary by everyone,
but for some it’s a necessary evil and for others it’s a privilege. The
controversy still exists, even if it would only appear as an old-fashioned
incapacity to adapt to a new situation.

We asked what makes a good employee. The answer was that attitude is what
matters, not qualifications or expertise. You have to be positive and able
to communicate, do teamwork and tolerate uncertainty. Your personal
characteristics determine your market value, not the duration or
productivity of your work. Through these discussions, we have tried to
understand what kind of employee is produced by this discourse. What if you
don’t have the personal characteristics or ideas that work today requires?
A strike is not an option because that would mean that you would have to
stop thinking.

We recorded the discussions and compiled them into a tragedy in one act. A
tragedy is a conflict between independent and justified positions. The
opposite positions are at the same time entirely justified and blind as
well as wrong to the extent that they either fail to recognize the
justification of the other perspective or they cannot grant the opponent
their own moment of truth. In the middle of the conflict, the positions
cancel each other out and what is left is an opportunity to think that work
does not solely define you.

Aino-Marjatta Mäki and Jaakko Karhunen

We wish to thank Active People, Adecco, Akava, AKT, Amrop Finland,
Extremely Nice Job Oy, Tuukka Haapakorpi, Idealist Oy, The Finnish Aviation
Union, People’s Archives, Seamen’s Union, Modular Learning Processes Oy,
Opteam, Operaria Konkaripalvelut, SAK, Seure Henkilöstöpalvelut Oy,
Treignac Projet, Erkki Tolonen and Kyösti Väänänen.

The work has been supported by AVEK, Genelec Oy, Puumesta Oy, Suomen
Vuokrakopit Oy and Brew Dog