The purpose of this blog is to provide analytical commentary on formal and informal labour organisations and their attempts to resist ever more brutal forms of exploitation in today’s neo-liberal, global capitalism.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

An emerging global working class? Critical reflections on Ronaldo Munck’s Rethinking Global Labour.

In Rethinking Global Labour (Agenda Publishing, 2018), Ronaldo Munck has produced an important contribution to ongoing analyses of the potential role of global labour in shaping the global political economy and resisting capitalist exploitation. In this review, while appreciating Munck’s empirical insights, I will nonetheless be rather critical of the underlying conceptual assumptions, which ultimately limit the impact of his findings.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Ecofeminism as Politics in times of crisis

In 2017, Ariel Salleh published the second edition of her book Ecofeminism as Politics: Nature, Marx and the Postmodern (Zed Books, 2017). In her outstanding engagement with multiple oppressions within the capitalist global economy, Salleh convincingly argues that patriarchal oppression is inextricably internally related to the destruction of nature in capitalism’s relentless search for accumulating ever higher levels of surplus value. In this blog post, I will provide an overview of the main arguments of the book as well as offer some critical reflections.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

The cartographies of Baltic labour resistance

The conjuncture between the thirtieth anniversaries of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the USSR is an apt occasion to revisit the trajectories of change in the post-Soviet space. In their article Baltic Labour in the Crucible of Capitalist Exploitation: Reassessing “Post-Communist” Transformation’, recently published in the Economic and Labour Relations Review, Andreas Bieler and Jokubas Salyga assess ‘post-communist’ transformation in the Baltic countries from the perspective of labour. The authors argue that the uneven and combined unfolding of 'post-communist' transformation has subjected Baltic labour to doubly constituted exploitation processes. First, workers in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have suffered from the extreme neo-liberal restructuring of economic and employment relations at home. Second, migrant workers from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) in general, trying to escape exploitation at home, have faced another set of exploitative dynamics in host countries in Western Europe such as the UK. Nevertheless, workers have continued to challenge exploitation in Central and Eastern Europe, in Western Europe, and have been active in extending networks of transnational solidarity across the continent.

Friday, 1 May 2020

Water privatisation? Finland says no!

In early January 2020, the municipality of Jyväskylä, located in the Central Finland Region, announced its intention to part-privatise between 30 and 40 per cent of its multi-utility company Alva, including water, energy and heating. Bringing in expertise from the private sector would better equip the company to tackle current market challenges, the municipality stated. Moreover, mirroring water privatisation arguments elsewhere, privatisation was said to promise increased efficiency and lower consumer prices. However, the announcement led to an immediate public outcry. Several critical opinion pieces appeared in various Finnish daily newspapers, and activists from the Left Alliance party launched a public petition to push the Finnish parliament into action. On 10 February, Jyväskylä announced that it had withdrawn its proposal. In this post, Dominika Baczynska Kimberley and Andreas Bieler trace the dynamics underlying this quick turnaround.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Moving towards Social Europe? The EU post-2008 crisis economic governance regime under review.

Photo by Yanni Koutsomitis
Following the 2008 financial crisis, the European Union adopted a new economic governance regime. As Jamie JordanVincenzo Maccarrone and Roland Erne explain, some scholars have argued that this new regime places greater emphasis on social objectives. Drawing on a new study of labour policy interventions in Germany, Ireland, Italy and Romania between 2009 and 2019, they demonstrate that this is not the case, with EU interventions continuing to be shaped by a liberalisation agenda.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Deep Restoration: from The Great Implosion to The Great Awakening

We are living in a time of exception. A time when the existing order is open to question. In this short essay, originally published by Globalizations, Barry Gills makes some initial reflections in response to the present ‘triple conjuncture’ of global crises. This triple conjuncture is an interaction among three spheres or vectors of global crises, together constituting a crisis of capitalist world order. The three spheres of the global crisis are: climate change and ecological breakdown; a systemic crisis of global capitalism and neoliberal economic globalization; and the current global pandemic of covid-19. The three spheres are deeply interrelated and now rapidly interacting. Their combined effects will bring radical systemic transformation. What do these crises represent? How do we understand the meaning and causes of this comprehensive global crisis?

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Higher Education in the UK and its inability to respond to the crisis

As people are trying to come to terms with the pandemic of the coronavirus, we are told that we are all in the same boat. Higher Education in the UK is no exception in this respect. Messages by key university administrators attempt to instil a collective ‘we’ feeling in view of the challenges ahead. And yet, while staff work extra hours up and down the country to facilitate the shift to online teaching, leading universities have already started to lay off employees. It is the most vulnerable colleagues first, those on fixed-term, often zero hours contracts, who are told at short notice that their services are no longer required. How can we understand these, at first sight, contradictory tendencies?

Photo by Geoff  Whalan