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.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

November 30 – what next?

Between 2 to 3 million workers went on strike on November 30 in the UK's biggest strike for several decades over the imposition of changes to pension schemes as well as the general cuts in the public sector by the current ConDem government. The question is, however, what next?

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The imposition of austerity and the move to authoritarian government - Part I

While bankers have caused the global financial crisis, it is now working people who are asked to pay for the bill. Austerity programme after austerity programme is passed across Europe. But people fight back and make clear that they are not prepared to accept this without a fight. Unsurprisingly, it is in this situation that there is a clear shift towards undemocratic, authoritarian government.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Europe Against Austerity

On Saturday, 1 October 2011, I attended the conference Europe Against Austerity in London. The conference was hosted by the British Coalition of Resistance. Representatives from all over Europe discussed the economic crisis, the way governments and the European Union were attempting to make working people pay for the bailout of banks as well as the possibilities of resistance against a European-wide policy of austerity.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

An Autumn of Discontent?

Considering the full-scale attack on the public sector in the UK, including measures such as cuts to welfare benefits, imposed changes to public sector pension schemes, compulsory redundancies, the privatisation of several NHS hospitals, the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance and the introduction of tuition fees of up to £9000 per year in Higher Education amongst others, the annual congress of the Trades Union Congress in London from 12 to 14 September 2011 is of particular importance. Will British trade unions find a way forward to contest the cuts by the ConDem coalition government successfully?

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Cave canem: the gobal financial crisis and the Left in Britain!

Considering the global financial crisis and the ConDem government’s current attempts to save money through drastic cuts to the public sector, the absence of more widespread protests and alternative proposals in Britain is surprising. Is the Left the dog that hasn’t barked?

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Towards a public sector wide strike in the UK? Impressions from the annual congress of the University and College Union.

Several public sector unions in the UK are currently balloting for industrial action in order to go on strike together on 30 June. The Higher Education section of the University and College Union (UCU), however, failed to link up with this movement. Does this indicate a rather economistic approach with a narrow focus on interests of members while wider societal concerns are disregarded?

Friday, 8 April 2011

Large demonstration against ConDem cuts – what next?

The demonstration against the ConDem budget cuts was huge. More than 250000 people took part in the protest against the public sector cuts on Saturday, 26 March in London. Some even speak of more than half a million people being in the streets. The demonstration was called by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and many affiliated unions such as Unison, the University and College Union (UCU), the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), but also social movements organising user groups had mobilised widely. The question is, however, what next in order to stop the cuts?

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The First Social Conference in Europe: a move towards wider resistance?

On 10 and 11 March 2011, I attended the First Social Conference in Europe. Around 80 representatives of European trade unions and social movements met in Brussels to move towards joint activities of resistance against neo-liberal restructuring. While the two days were very fruitful in relation to an open exchange of positions and the formulation of joint draft papers, a draft declaration, and a press release, the groups present ultimately failed to adopt priorities for joint actions in the short- to medium-term.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Is there a future for trade unions in the UK?

In this University of Nottingham podcast, I look ahead to the planned TUC demonstration against cuts in the public sector on Saturday, 26 March 2011 and ask if the unions have a chance of forcing u-turns and driving resistance to neo-liberal restructuring in the UK.

Prof. Andreas Bieler
Professor of Political Economy
University of Nottingham/UK

Personal website:

21 March 2011

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Dangerous illusions in the top tier - Part2!

Despite the cut-backs in Higher Education in the UK, members of staff in top tier institutions feel fairly secure in their employment. Job losses as a result of a decline in student numbers will affect colleagues in Further Education institutions as well as Universities further down in the ranking order it is often thought. This may well turn out to be a dangerous illusion.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

A radical feminist vision of resistance and the struggle against budget cuts

The current attack on the welfare state in the UK by the ConDem government through its draconian budget cuts is unprecedented. No area of the public sector, be it Higher Education, the Health Service, be it local government services, will remain unaffected. And yet, resistance to these cuts has been mooted to date. Yes, there are various local alliances, forthcoming strikes and a large, trade union organised demonstration in London on 26 March. Wider support for these events is, however, not ensured. How can this be explained? Sara Motta in her latest blog entry ‘Beautiful Transgressions: A radical feminism for our times’ looks at this issue from a feminist perspective. She provides new insights as well as possible ways forward.

Saturday, 12 March 2011


Resistance against the attack on the public sector by the ConDem government is gathering pace. The Coalition of Resistance has been established to bring together trade unions, social movements and local user groups in their fight against the draconian budget cuts.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Trade unions, free trade and the problem of transnational solidarity

Resistance against free trade agreements has increased since the demonstrations at the WTO ministerial conference in Seattle in 1999. Positions by trade unions on free trade agreements are, however, ambiguous. While trade unions in the North especially in manufacturing have supported free trade agreements to secure export markets for ‘their’ companies, trade unions in the Global South oppose these agreements, since they often imply deindustrialisation.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Dangerous illusions in the top tier - Part 1!

As a result of the cut-backs to Universities’ teaching budgets by up to 80 per cent, it is likely that Higher Education in the UK will be split into a two-tier system. The idea that top tier institutions and members of staff working at these institutions are unaffected by these cuts is, however, a dangerous illusion. Only joint resistance against these cuts across all institutions in Higher and Further Education, organised through the University and College Union (UCU) which organises the whole sector, will provide an opportunity to prevent or at least obstruct these developments.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Open Forum on the Future of Further and Higher Education

The local University and College Union (UCU) committee of Nottingham University will hold an Open Forum of Further and Higher Education institutions in the wider area of Nottingham. The Forum will take place in the room Portland C11, University Park, the main campus of the University of Nottingham, on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 from 1 to 3 p.m.