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, 27 December 2013

Crucible of Resistance: Class struggle over ways out of the crisis.

Many commentators make Greece and other peripheral EU members responsible for the sovereign debt crisis. People in these countries would have lived above their means and it was only right that they should tighten their belts now, the argument goes. Having postponed the necessary restructuring for too long, austerity would be the only solution to enforce liberalization and deregulation from the outside. In their impressive book Crucible of Resistance: Greece, the Eurozone and the World EconomicCrisis (Pluto Press, 2013), Christos Laskos and Euclid Tsakalotos challenge these understandings and reveal the class dynamics underlying the crisis. In this blog post, I will provide a critical review of this book including also a discussion of potential ways out of the crisis. I will argue, in contrast to Laskos and Tsakalotos, that successful resistance may well start at the Greek, national level rather than the European level.  

Monday, 16 December 2013

The Election of Matteo Renzi and the Future of Italian Trade Unions

Matteo Renzi, mayor of Florence, was recently elected leader of the Italian Partito Democratico (Democratic Party). All Italians could vote in the contest. Between two and three million Italians (depending on your sources) turned out to cast a vote in the leadership contest with Renzi amassing almost 70% of the vote. With this clear mandate Renzi, at 38, becomes the youngest general secretary of the PD. His criticism of the political class has been scathing and the venom was not reserved for rival political parties. Instead of sparing his left-wing cohorts Renzi built his campaign around the idea that the PD needed a root-and-branch renewal. In this guest post, Darragh Golden assesses the implications of Renzi’s appointment for Italy’s largest left-wing party. Moreover, how will the relationship between political party and trade unions evolve? And what will the implications be for Italian parliamentary democracy in the immediate future?

Friday, 13 December 2013

LO Sweden: Can an Old Model be Renewed?

LO Sweden is starting a high-level commission on a “new Swedish model”. Long ago, Sweden was known for what was called the Rehn-Meidner model. The idea was that union wage strategies and government policy should be combined to promote full employment and fair distribution while respecting the autonomy of unions and employers. The basic element was a “solidaristic” wage policy which would raise the income level of low-income groups and simultaneously speed up structural change and thereby create more jobs in the future. Unemployment benefits and active labour market programmes would give workers security in the process of change; a “security of the wings”, as Gösta Rehn, LO economist at the time, phrased it. In this guest post, Ingemar Lindberg discusses the huge task of this new commission: How to re-establish a strategy for these goals in our times?

Monday, 9 December 2013

Confronting Neo-liberal Capitalism: SIGTUR’s tenth Congress in Perth/Australia, 2 to 6 December 2013.

Last week, I attended the tenth Congress of the Southern Initiative on Globalisation and Trade Union Rights (SIGTUR) in Perth/Australia, 2 to 6 December 2013. SIGTUR is a network of more militant trade unions from the Global South with a focus on South-South co-operation. In this post, I will reflect on SIGTUR’s achievements, problems as well as possibilities for the future on the basis of the exchanges at this Congress. I will argue that it will only be through joint campaigns against capitalist exploitation that relationships of solidarity can be established through SIGTUR more widely.