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.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Austerity policies in Europe: crisis response or class warfare?

As a result of austerity policies in response to the global financial market and Eurozone sovereign debt crises, policies of wage cuts and dismantling or hollowing out of collective bargaining have been implemented across the European Union (EU). And yet, as a new wage map by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) illustrates, the general situation of European people has not improved.

Friday, 23 August 2013

There Is An Alternative: reflections on elements of an anti-austerity economic policy.

Poster by freestylee
Similarly to the 1980s, when Thatcher proclaimed that There Is No Alternative (TINA) to her restructuring policies, again we are told in the UK that considering national debt levels, austerity is the only way forward. Up to one million public sector jobs are to be axed, public sector pensions and wages are under attack and welfare services are cut across the board.

Importantly, however, politics is always about choices and deciding on priorities. There are always several possible ways forward. In this post, I will reflect on some elements of an alternative, anti-austerity economic policy.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

The Age of Austerity: Fighting Cuts and Privatisation.

Since coming to power in 2010, the current coalition government in the UK has implemented drastic austerity policies across the public sector. During the Spring semester 2013, the local University and College Union (UCU) association at Nottingham University organised a series of talks on local anti-cuts initiatives. The purpose of this post is to bring together the various reports from these talks.

Photo by Dean Thorpe
As different as the various areas affected by cuts are, ranging from the National Health Service (NHS) to schools to the Bedroom Tax, several common features can be identified:

(1) austerity policies have nothing to do with cutting back national debt. Rather, they are intended to open up the public sector to private investment;

(2) downward pressure on terms and conditions of those working in the public sector is the general result;

(3) austerity policies are mainly directed against the weak and vulnerable in society;

(4) austerity policies are decided by those, who will not be negatively affected by them. Cuts in education and health have no implications for the rich, who are already accessing private education and health services; and

(5) many current policies had already been initiated by previous New Labour governments. Turning austerity around will, therefore, need to go beyond defeating the current government. It also requires an internal struggle for the direction of the Labour party.

Overall, austerity is a class project against working people’s gains since 1945!

The reports collected in this post highlight the dramatic implications of cuts, but they are also a testimony to the continuation of resistance and the possibility that austerity can be defeated.