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, 13 May 2014

Resisting austerity in Greece: The Thessaloniki water referendum.

In this guest post, written on request, Jan Willem Goudriaan, Deputy General Secretary of the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), updates the experience with the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) on the Human Right to Water. Based on a discussion of the struggles over water privatisation in Thessaloniki/Greece, he assesses how the ECI has been linked with local struggles and demands for an alternative Europe (for the earlier post see European Citizens’ Initiative on Water and the alternative to Austerity Europe).

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The perpetuum mobile of privatisation

Privatisation is a truly fantastic thing. Privatising public services would result in four benign consequences, we are told: (1) the production of services becomes more efficient and, therefore, cheaper; (2) the quality of the services is improved; (3) the cost of services for the consumer is reduced; and (4) companies providing these services can still make a profit. And this all as a result of private services being subject to the competitive pressures of the free market. Like a perpetuum mobile, a hypothetical machine which continues to function once activated, privatization would have an inevitable and continuing positive impact once implemented. In this post, I will critically evaluate these claims against the background of my research on the Italian water movement against privatisation (see Road to Victory and La lotta continua) and discuss why it is that this discourse continues to enjoy such widespread acceptance, although it is empirically so obviously wrong.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Fighting against water privatisation in Italy: La lotta continua!

Victory in the 2011 referendum against water privatisation had been emphatic. More than 57 per cent of the Italian electorate cast their vote and both questions related to water had been approved by a majority of more than 95 per cent (see Road to Victory). And yet, those who expected that these decisions, legally binding according to the Italian Constitution, would now be implemented, were disappointed. Based on my interviews with leading activists of the Italian water movement, in this post I will assess the situation since the referendum in 2011.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Fighting against water privatisation in Italy: Road to Victory!

Against the background of the global and Eurozone financial crises as well as austerity sweeping across Europe, the pressure on privatising public services is immense. The story of the Italian water movement, a broad alliance of social movements and trade unions, which successfully mobilized for a referendum against the privatization of water in June 2011, is a story of hope for alliances involved in resisting privatization elsewhere. From 25 March to 8 April, I conducted a series of interviews with members of this movement. In this post, I will report on the emergence and ultimate success of this movement in the referendum.