The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party so shortly after the defeat in the general elections of May 2015 came for many as a surprise. The electoral campaign had not been too far to the left, as Blairites tried to claim immediately after the elections. Party members' and supporters' verdict was that it had not been left and anti-austerity enough. In this post, I will reflect on the chances of Jeremy Corbyn and his Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell of bringing about significant change in Britain.
Monday, 21 December 2015
Thursday, 3 December 2015
Is migration from Central and Eastern Europe really an opportunity for trade unions to demand higher wages? Evidence from the Romanian health sector.
Tuesday, 17 November 2015
The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) was established on 11 November 1995. From 11 to 14 November, I participated in the KCTU’s 20 year anniversary International Seminar on ‘Global Workers’ Struggle against Labour Rights Deterioration in the Era of Crisis’ in Seoul/South Korea. The seminar did not only include two days of discussions, but also the official anniversary ceremony, an excursion to the Park of Worker Martyrs as well as participation in the large demonstration against labour market restructuring on 14 November. In this blog post, I will reflect on workers’ struggle against restructuring in South Korea and its connections with global developments.
Thursday, 12 November 2015
Why has the European labor movement largely failed to politicize the EU’s new economic governance regime?
The creation of the new European governance regime requires an explanation. In contrast to the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the EU’s business and political leaders rejected until very recently the need for any coordination in the field of industrial relations at EU level (Leonard et al., 2007); arguably because self-regulating market forces would automatically lead to the desired downward adjustment in wages and workers’ rights across Europe. In November 2011, however, the European Parliament and the Council adopted the so-called Six-Pack of six EU laws on European economic governance. This new European governance regime empowers the European Commission to give detailed policy prescriptions to national governments and to sanction member states. In this post, Roland Erne introduces his recorded lecture explaining why the European labor movement largely failed to politicize the EU’s new regime of economic governance.
Sunday, 8 November 2015
Are we experiencing new dynamics of revolutionary change coming from the Global South? In his fascinating new book Southern Insurgency: The Coming of the Global Working Class (Pluto Press, 2015) Immanuel Ness looks more closely at the labour movements in India, China and South Africa and their potential of resistance to exploitation. In this post, I will give a brief glimpse at the book based on a presentation given by Ness at the Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham/UK on 5 November.
Tuesday, 27 October 2015
Monday, 5 October 2015
Further austerity imposed, democracy attacked – the third bailout of Greece in July 2015 has demonstrated the brutal face of neo-liberalism in Europe. Refugees in need at the doors of Europe and the governments of the European Union (EU) member states are squabbling over the allocation of small numbers of refugees across the EU, numbers which the comparatively wealthy EU should easily be able to accommodate. These events provided the dramatic background to this year’s EuroMemo Group’s conference Addressing Europe’s Multiple Crises: An agenda for economic transformation, solidarity and democracy, held at Roskilde University/Denmark, 24 to 26 September. In this blog post, I will make some personal observations.
Tuesday, 29 September 2015
‘What we are for is equally important as what we are against’, declared Dexter Whitfield in his presentation ‘Capitalist dynamics reconfiguring the state: alternatives to privatising public services’ to a packed audience at Nottingham University on Wednesday, 16 September. Hence, when contesting privatisation of public services, it is not enough simply to resist these processes. It is also necessary to put forward concrete alternatives of how to organise and deliver these services differently from within the public sector. In this post, I will summarise some of the key points of the presentation, which was jointly organised by the Bertrand Russel Peace Foundation, the local University and College Union association and the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice.
Friday, 18 September 2015
The first European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) on ‘Water and Sanitation are a Human Right’ was an enormous success. Between May 2012 and September 2013, an alliance of trade unions, social movements and NGOs succeeded in collecting close to 1.9 million signatures across the European Union (EU), thereby reaching the required quota in 13 EU member states (see Against the grain: The European Citizens’ Initiative on ‘Water is a Human Right’). In this post, I want to evaluate the outcomes, the concrete impact this campaign has had on EU policy-making drawing on interviews with key activists as well as documentary research from November 2014 to July 2015.
Thursday, 10 September 2015
Between May 2012 and September 2013, close to 1.9 million signatures were collected throughout the European Union (EU) and formally submitted to the Commission for the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) on ‘Water and Sanitation are a Human Right’. While impressive in itself, it is not only the large number of signatures, which is a sign of success. The ECI, based on a broad alliance of trade unions and social movements, was successful at a time, when austerity policies were enforced across the EU. It, therefore, went completely against the grain and in opposition to dominant forces pushing for further neo-liberal restructuring. In this blog post, I will discuss the main factors underlying this success: (1) the long history of water struggles; (2) the unique quality of water; and (3) the broad alliance of participating actors.
Saturday, 5 September 2015
The recently published collection of essays by Hugo Radice on Global Capitalism (Routledge, 2015) represents impressive global political economy scholarship across three decades from the 1980s to 2011. Radice makes two key contributions. First, he successfully re-asserts the importance of focusing on class and class struggle in analysing the global political economy. Second, he provides insightful criticism of ‘progressive nationalism’, which is highly relevant for the upcoming debate over UK membership in the European Union (EU).
Monday, 31 August 2015
From August 2013 to June 2014, the trasnational labour project group came together in Oslo to work on the project Globalization and the possibility of transnational actors: the case of trade unions. One of the key publications resulting from the project, the edited volume Labour and Transnational Action in Times of Crisis, has just been published by Rowman & Littlefield International. In this post, I want to draw out briefly the two main common themes underlying the various contributions as well as highlight a number of key findings.
Friday, 14 August 2015
Over the last weeks, the Marxism Reading Group (MRG) of the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (CSSGJ) at Nottingham University has read the book The Next Revolution: Popular Assemblies and the Promise of Direct Democracy (London: Verso, 2015) by Murray Bookchin. In this post, six members of the group critically assess different aspects of the book in their questions to Murray Bookchin.
Monday, 3 August 2015
The multiple global economic, financial, food and ecological crises are deepening. And yet, neo-liberal capitalism continues to reign supreme. Every crisis is responded to by further marketization and commodification. ‘Free’ trade is deepened in negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA)
. In this post,
Jacklyn Cock and I suggest that the links between the concepts of
‘food sovereignty’ and ‘fair trade’ could promote connections between labour
and community struggles and foster labour solidarity at both the transnational
and local levels. Both concepts present challenges to the neo-liberal food
Friday, 17 July 2015
|Image by Wikimedia Commons|
There is no sign of European solidarity in this deal. It is a punishment handed down to Greece for daring to say no to austerity. The EU was established on the principles of cooperation and mutual support – and many are now wondering what has happened to those aspirations. But solidarity fell by the wayside some time ago in Europe. This is just the most recent example of how European integration today is about profit maximisation for capital – not about cooperation between European people.
Monday, 6 July 2015
|Photo by Mark Rain|
We analyse the relationship between geopolitical and capitalist dynamics underlying the decision to go to war. Importantly, we argue that only through a focus on the internal relation between geopolitical and global capitalist dynamics can we begin to comprehend the way the Iraq War contributed to the continuation of capitalist accumulation through what we refer to as a strategy of bomb and build.
Tuesday, 23 June 2015
Tuesday, 9 June 2015
What is engaged research? How can it be made acceptable within academia and be useful for social movements? What is the relationship between engaged researchers and activists? Over 50 scholar-activists gathered at the University of Nottingham for the workshop on Going Beyond Academia, hosted by the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (CSSGJ) to discuss these issues and related themes. In this blog post, I will make some personal observations on some of the themes discussed at this fascinating and extremely productive workshop.
Friday, 5 June 2015
‘The Conservatives are not invincible – splits over the forthcoming EU referendum and their small majority in parliament are only two signs of their weakness. Together, the Left can stem the tide of austerity’, these were the words of the TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady. In front of a full lecture theatre with 300 people, she delivered the first Ken Coates memorial lecture, organised by the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and co-hosted by the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (CSSGJ) and the local University and College Union (UCU) association. In this post, I will draw out some of her key points.
Friday, 15 May 2015
Concerns over Greece’s ability to pay back its debt continue unabated, with another crisis meeting of Eurozone finance ministers having taken place in Brussels on Monday, 11 May. While the media focuses on Greece’s ability to meet the conditions by the European Union, in this post Jamie Jordan and I have another look at some of the key underlying dynamics of the crisis.
Saturday, 2 May 2015
As a result of neo-liberal restructuring, the informalisation of work in the global economy has been intensified. While precarious forms of labour have always been predominant in the Global South, they have increasingly also spread into the Global North. As a result, trade unions are under pressure, as it is much more difficult to organise a workforce in temporary, vulnerable and constantly changing employment relations. And yet, there are also examples of successful organising campaigns by precarious workers. In this blog post, I will discuss some of the key themes, which were discussed at the excellent workshop Organising the Unorganisable, brought together by Maurizio Atzeni and held at Loughborough University on 23 and 24 April 2014.
Monday, 13 April 2015
Thursday, 2 April 2015
Thursday, 19 March 2015
Two far-reaching free trade agreements are currently being negotiated, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) (see The People against Capital: Stop-TTIP!). Nevertheless, while these negotiations take place in secrecy behind closed doors and outside democratic accountability, representatives of big corporations have close access to decision-makers. In this guest post, Marty Hart-Landsberg outlines the privileged influence big business enjoys on US trade policy.
Friday, 13 March 2015
While London is one of the most glamorous and expensive cities in the world, the workers who keep the British capital clean are often overlooked and disregarded. They are paid so lowly that they can often barely survive. And yet, cleaners are fighting back. In a seminar organised by the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (CSSGJ) at Nottingham University, Albero, Percy and Petros from the independent union United Voices of the World reported from their successful struggles to ensure the payment of the living wage at the Barbican as well as Sotheby's Auction house in London. In this post, I will report on some of the key aspects of their struggles.
Wednesday, 18 February 2015
China’s developmental strategy has been based on cheap labour, foreign direct investment (FDI) and the assembling of pre-fabricated parts for export to North American and European markets. This export-oriented growth strategy in low value added production sectors has, however, come under pressure as a result of the global economic crisis and a decline in global demand. In his presentation at Nottingham University on 17 February, jointly hosted by the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies and the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice, Florian Butollo from Jena University in Germany investigated whether China’s attempts at industrial upgrading in response to the crisis have also resulted in ‘social upgrading’ for its workforce.
Monday, 2 February 2015
Only three years after closing the final salary pension scheme of USS for new members of staff in pre-1992 Higher Education (HE) institutions in the UK, the employers returned to the table with new demands. This time they asked for cuts to staff members’ pensions of around 27 per cent. Initially, the University and College Union (UCU) responded forcefully and carried out a ballot for industrial action: 78% of union members who participated voted for strike action and 87% voted for action short of a strike. The turnout of 45% was the highest in a national higher education ballot since UCU was formed in 2006. And yet, in January 2015 UCU settled for a negotiated deal, which was only marginally better for members than the initial proposals by the employers. Instead of 27 per cent of cuts, many members will now face cuts of somewhere between 20 and 24 per cent. How could this happen? In this blog post, I will provide a critical assessment of this struggle, drawing also on my own experience as a member of the Higher Education Committee (HEC), where the crucial decisions were taken within UCU.
Friday, 23 January 2015
On Sunday, 25 January the Greek people are voting for a new parliament. According to opinion polls, this time the left party Syriza may win the elections (BBC, 22 January 2015). In view of the heavy pressure put on Greece by financial markets, the European Commission as well as European Central Bank, people of the European left are calling for solidarity. Support is needed especially should Syriza form the next government and demand from the European Union (EU) a re-negotiation of the terms of its bailout package. In this blog post, I will reflect on what form these solidarity actions may take.
Tuesday, 6 January 2015
From October 2011 to September 2014, we worked on the project Chinese labour in the global economy, supported by an ESRC research grant (RES-062-23-2777, £275k). Throughout this period, Chun-Yi Lee carried out a number of field research trips to China in order to interview workers, labour academics and representatives of informal labour NGOs. We organised a related panel at the World Congress of the International Sociological Association in Yokohama/Japan in July 2014 and held an international workshop at Nottingham University in September 2014. In this post, we provide an overview of the main findings of the project.