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.

Friday, 26 October 2012

October 20 – British trade unions and the struggle against austerity

According to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), more than 150000 people participated in the march against austerity and For a Future that Works in London on Saturday, 20 October 2012. Affiliated unions up and down the country had mobilised, members from Unison, the national teachers union NASUWT, the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU), the University and College Union (UCU) and others were clearly visible. The march was colourful, the mood buoyant, the chanting intensive. Protesters were furious about the cuts to education, privatisation of the NHS and large-scale restructuring in the public sector. They signalled their willingness to resist. There was a feeling of empowerment, of a possibility to go beyond the current ConDem government. And yet, is such an optimistic assessment warranted?

In this post, I will shed a critical light on British trade unions’ strategy against the austerity budgets of the current ConDem government.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

The Dance of the Undead - Not only at Marikana, Not only in South Africa ...

Starting from the recent massacre of striking South African workers at the Marikana mine (The Guardian, 7 September 2012), in this guest post Peter Waterman looks more closely at current trade union policy-making in view of the global crisis of capitalist civilisation. The massacre does not only indicate that the hopes for post-apartheid South Africa have not materialised. It also highlights the intensity of the capitalist crisis. What are the key requirements for an emancipatory movement towards another South Africa, towards another world?   

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Can Chinese Workers Eat Apple?

On 24 September, the iPhone 5 was launched in the first nine countries/areas, America, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Singapore, Japan, Australia, Hong Kong. It was then launched in 22 more countries in the week beginning 1 October. The first weekend’s sales were very impressive, reaching 5 million. This number already broke Apple’s previous record for first-weekend sales of all previous models of iPhone. In this guest post, Chun-Yi Lee wonders whether any of those Apple fans, who were camping outside to be ‘the first customer’ or at least ‘first group of customers’ to buy the iPhone 5, had thought about the making of this most advanced, light, cool gadget? This paper links the hot-selling phenomenon of the iPhone 5 to Chinese workers, for the very reason that most of Apple’s iProducts are manufactured in China.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Labour Struggle in a Peripheral Context: Debating Labour and Alternatives to Globalisation in Turkey.

The peripheral context in the world capitalist system has been a constant centre of attention in debating alternatives. It is even more so under globalisation that has shifted labour-intensive production to the periphery often under conditions of precarity (Cox, 1987: 319). Moreover, dissent is on the rise in tandem with social cuts and austerity measures. The economic crisis provides opportunities to reflect upon new strategies for labour and the Left. In this guest post, Elif Uzgören debates the labour situation in a peripheral context - Turkey – against the background of globalisation and the transnationalisation of production.

Monday, 1 October 2012

A socialist alternative through the Labour Party? Reflections on transformative politics.

On Tuesday, 25 September 2012, I attended a local Labour Party meeting in Beeston, Nottingham/UK. Invited guest speakers were the left-wing Labour MP and Chair of the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) John McDonnell and the General Secretary of the Commercial Workers’ Union (CWU) Billy Hayes. There was a clear agreement on the need to replace the current ConDem government. There was less agreement on how to ensure that a renewed Labour government would actually stand up for working people this time round.

In this post, I will critically assess both speakers’ suggestions by drawing on the work of Karl Marx and Nicos Poulantzas.