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, 5 February 2020

Water privatization in Jyväskylä, Finland?

Photo by Sampo Sikiö
Jyväskylä is the first Finnish municipality, which has decided to part-privatize its water services, intending to sell 30 per cent of the municipal company. What may look as an attractive option at first sight to generate finance for the municipality, is however a potentially highly dangerous initiative. The experiences of water privatizations elsewhere in Europe counsel caution.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

What’s worse than being a casual worker in academia? Being an outsourced casual worker in academia.

In June 2019, the University and College Union (UCU) released a report, Counting the costs of casualisation in higher education. It details the increasing precarity of work in the HE sector, and vividly lays bare the prevalent use of “atypical” employment/engagement practices by UK universities. Of note is the report’s observation of the widespread use of casual worker arrangements and the role of doctoral research students within this landscape:

“Many [atypical academics] are PhD students, teaching during their studies, dependent on their teaching earnings to fund their studies. Many are also contracted as ‘casual workers’, a form of zero hours contract that means that they are paid by the assignment, like temps, and have fewer employment rights. Prominent universities that use casual worker status include UCL, Warwick, Birmingham, and Nottingham among others.” In this guest post, Robert Stenson outlines his experience as a ‘casual worker’ at Nottingham University.

Monday, 6 January 2020

Globalization and Labour in the 21st century: Reflections on Verity Burgmann.

Verity Burgmann has produced an excellent, broad coverage of different instances of resistance by labour movements from around the world in her book Globalization and Labour in the Twenty-First Century (Routledge, 2016). It includes accounts of occupied factories in Argentina, opposition to privatisation of oil facilities in Iraq, as well as anti-austerity struggles in Greece amongst many others. It covers private industries as well as public sectors and explores the potential of new social media for resistance. In this blog post, I will provide some critical reflections on this major account of labour movements' potential role in the 21st century.