Collective Action

Once migrants have identified issues that impact on their lives and have begun to build an analysis of these, the next step is identifying actions to address these problems. Change sought may have a small or large impact, benefitting a small community or the wider society. It may involve participating in networking events to develop a policy focus, advocating and lobbying for changes, linking with political process and documenting and sharing good practice. Click here to return to Community Work portal.

  • Practice Principles

    MRCI Community Work Practice Graphics by Form.ieCommunity work is based on working with and supporting groups of people. It enables them to develop knowledge; skills and confidence so that they can develop an analysis, identify priority needs and issues and address these through collective action.

    Community workers have a responsibility to:

    • Inform themselves about the reality experienced by the communities with which they work and build relationships with communities framed by these realities.
    • Involve communities in a collective analysis of issues, identify common needs and regularly reflect, review, evaluate and reset priorities and objectives.
    • Work towards collective outcomes for the community as a whole rather than the advancement of individuals.
    • Collaborate and build alliances with other groups, organisations and agencies in order to advance key community objectives.
    • Create and enhance conditions for collective action through building solidarity, recognising achievements, learning from success and failure and sharing information on models of good practice.
    • Develop innovative and creative approaches to working with communities and learn from other models of work nationally and globally.
    • Create opportunities for progression in situations of conflict in communities and in the over society of which they are part.

     Illustrations by Form Design

  • Tips for your role as a community worker engaging in collective action:

    • Inform yourself about the realities i.e. the burning issues facing migrants and their families in Ireland
    • Work in a collective (group setting) to engage migrants in an analysis of issues. This may start in the sharing of problems and stories but should move on to a collective analysis of the issues identifying common needs and solutions and taking action together.
    • Work towards the collective MRCI Community Work Practice Graphics by (f) utcomes for all migrants in Ireland i.e. moving on from individual problem solving to a collective agenda.
    • Use participative and innovative ways to collectivise experiences.
    • Build power with people you are working with by enabling migrants to develop knowledge, skills and confidence to address issues through collective action e.g. leadership skills, media training, understanding the Irish political system.
    • Take action collectively on issues of concern. Ensure this action is planned, well thought through and regularly reflected upon i.e. develop a campaign strategy.
    • Regularly reflect, review, evaluate and reset priorities and objectives.
    • Be clear about the change being sought, informed by a critical analysis and underpinned by the active participation of migrants impacted by the issue that change is sought on.
    • Collaborate, build alliances and solidarity with allies and stakeholders to build power for change.
    • Develop innovative and creative approaches to working with communities
    • Reflect and learn from success and failure and share good practice


     Illustrations by Form Design

  • Campaign for the Right to Change Employer

    MRCI Community Work Practice Graphics by

    MRCI’s campaign for the right to change employer is a good example of collective action for change: supporting a collective to respond to individual problems facing work permit holders, building power for change through power sharing with those affected, and building solidarity with allies and supporters. Ireland’s Work Permit system effectively binds workers to their employers. By offering migrant workers no way to freely change jobs, the system renders them completely dependent on their employer for their legal status. This is a perfect environment for the exploitation of workers by unscrupulous employers, and MRCI has exposed several shocking cases where migrant workers were treated as little more than indentured servants. This issue is one which affects many of our members, from waitresses and agricultural workers to nannies and carers. For many years, we raised our concerns about the Work Permit system with government officials and this led to some welcome administrative changes. We also lodged hundreds of formal cases under Irish labour and employment rights law for violation of permit workers’ rights.

    Our community work ethos compels us to seek systematic structural reforms for the benefit of the roughly 25,000 work permit holders in Ireland, and not just solutions to individual problems. So we brought together a working group of activists and migrant worker leaders who agreed to make this issue our headline campaign for 2010. The campaign kicked off with the publication of research we commissioned which showed a significant level of public support for our proposal to allow workers to freely change employers within their job category. This has been a bold and dynamic campaign involving seasoned activists from other campaign core groups and action groups. Our activists have met ministers, addressed parliamentary committees and, along with trade union allies, collected thousands of signatures of support from people in the home constituencies of the MRCI Community Work Practice Graphics by Form.ierelevant ministers. They have received the endorsement from employer and trade union bodies for the campaign. Our members have explained the injustices of the current system in countless media interviews, held noisy demonstrations outside government offices and written thousands of letters to ministers and other parliamentarians. They have done significant outreach work around the country to build widespread support for the campaign and to identify regional migrant leaders. While a change of government in early 2011 brought about a forced hiatus in this campaign, we are confident that in the near future we will bring home the changes our members seek.

  • Community work approach to collective action

    • This migrant-led campaign took off quickly because the groundwork of participation and empowerment had already been laid.
    • We held training sessions and workshops for activists while the campaign was at its height, to give them the chance to put newly acquired skills and analysis into practice.
    • The campaign allowed our most experienced activists to share their skills and experience with newer participants.
    • MRCI collaborated and built alliances and solidarity with allies such as the trade union movement and stakeholders such as employers to build power for change.
    • Being clear about the change being sought, informed by a critical analysis and underpinned by the active participation of migrants impacted by the issue that change is sought on.


  • RWAG Flash Mob

  • We have over ten years' experience of using community work to empower migrants and build collective action. Here are some of the resources we've developed over the years - please help yourself! Click the red title to view each document.

    MRCI Campaign Strategy Template: A good campaign needs strategy and coordination. We use this campaign strategy template to plan everything from people power to political engagement.

    A Menu of Direct Actions: Coming up with ideas for public and strategic actions as part of a campaign? Choose from our menu of direct actions!

    Principles for Planning Effective Actions: Good actions don’t just happen. See our principles for planning effective campaign actions.

    Roles & Responsibilities for Actions: A good action needs delegation of roles and responsibilities. Check out our template here.

    Top Tips for Messaging, Media & Strategy: Campaign strategy, messaging and communications - these are our top tips.

    For a full list of our community work resources, please click the Resources tab of the Community Work portal.