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.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Fighting for the heart and soul of Labour!

Photo by Jason
The Labour Party is currently embroiled in a bitter internal struggle over the election of its next leader. While the challenger Owen Smith enjoys the predominant support of the Labour MPs in Parliament as well as the party establishment, the vast majorities of constituencies and individual labour members endorse Jeremy Corbyn. Critics of Corbyn argue that he lacks the necessary leadership qualities, visible in his allegedly weak role in the EU referendum, and is unable to ensure a victory by the Labour Party against the Conservatives in the next general elections. In this blog post, I will argue that this kind of criticism misunderstands completely what the current movement around Jeremy Corbyn is about.


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Super-exploitation and resistance: different forms of workers protests in China.

China is frequently considered to be an example of successful developmental catch-up. And yet, the country’s impressive growth rates are to a large extent based on the super-exploitation of its workforce expressed in long working hours, low wages, and a general lack of basic welfare benefits such as medical insurance and work-injury insurance (Chan and Selden, 2014, p. 606). In our recently published article ‘Exploitation and resistance: a comparative analysis of the Chinese cheap labour electronics and high-value added IT sectors’, published in the journal Globalizations and freely accessible online, Chun-Yi Lee and I compare the electronics sector in the area of Shenzhen, based on cheap labour assembling goods for export, with the IT sector in the area of Shanghai, relying on a more skilled workforce manufacturing high-value added goods. It is asked in what way these rather different locations within the global political economy condition the form and contents of resistance in these two sectors.


Saturday, 9 July 2016

The Hidden Cost of Everyday Low Prices

As consumers, we reap the benefits of globalisation. We enjoy ever-expanding product lines at ever-shrinking prices. Preoccupied with this penchant for low prices, we often accept the claim that globalisation delivers growth and prosperity to countries around the world without question. However, this blithe acceptance of global capitalism obscures some of the shocking realities faced by workers worldwide, which have arisen as a result of the processes of global restructuring that have been taking place since the 1970s. These developments, rooted in neoliberal principles which aim to achieve the conditions for the mobility and free operation of capital, are presenting significant new challenges for workers across the globe. In this guest post, Louise Elliot assesses in more detail the implications for workers in the Global North and South in an analysis of the operations by the large international retail giant Wal-Mart.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Neoliberalism’s Exploitation of Women Workers: the true price of our clothing.

Neoliberalism has faced intense scrutiny over the years from Trade Unionists and Marxists alike for its exploitation of workers and insistence of an economic ‘trickle down’ effect that has yet to materialise. When you look closer, however, another troubling aspect of this industry emerges. Again and again, it seems to be women who are left behind by this system. In many countries in the global South, women are drawn into employment in the lowest paid and most undervalued work in the global economy at the end of Global Commodity Chains in the manufacturing, fresh produce and garment industries. In this guest post, Zoe Kemp analyses the plight of female workers in the Bangladeshi textile sector.

Monday, 27 June 2016

What a victory for the ‘internationalist’ pro-Brexit left!

All European citizens have just been stripped of their European citizenship rights in Northern Ireland and Britain. Hence, no right to vote in local elections, no European social rights (e.g. no European Health Insurance Card), and no right to be treated equally anymore. What a ‘success’ for the ‘internationalist’ pro-Brexit left of Britain and Ireland! As a result, European migration to the UK will be reduced significantly. But note, I mean student migration not labour migration. In this guest post, Roland Erne assesses some of the implications of Brexit for EU nationals working in the UK.  

Friday, 24 June 2016

Brexit and the rise of the nationalist right: Where next for the British left?

Photo by Rareclass
‘I don’t mind Germans, Italians, the Spanish, but I hate them Bulgarians and Romanians. Thieves the whole lot of them.

My brother in law cannot get a job in the warehouses, because these agencies favour Polish immigrants.

All our companies are owned by foreigners, German electricity company, French in the water industry. I’d nationalise the whole lot’ (Local Resident in Beeston, Nottingham/UK; 24 June 2016).

As the Brexit vote sinks in, the first nationalist and xenophobic statements can be heard on the streets. In this blog post, I am analysing the wider causes underlying the Brexit vote and reflect on the struggles ahead. I will argue that there have been two campaigns against increasing austerity and the destruction brought about by global capitalist restructuring, the progressive left campaign around the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party in the summer of 2015 and the predominantly right-wing Brexit campaign. Last night, the latter won a significant victory, when 51.9 per cent of the people voting endorsed to leave the EU against 48.1 per cent, who had voted to remain in the EU.


Tuesday, 24 May 2016

What position for the labour movement on the EU referendum?

On Thursday, 23 June, a referendum will be held to decide whether Britain should leave or remain in the European Union. When Jacques Delors, then EU Commission President, announced his vision of a social dimension for European integration in the late 1980s, in the UK he won large parts of the British trade unions over into a pro-EU position. Against the background of neo-liberal restructuring by consecutive Conservative governments, social regulation at the European level offered advances, which would have been impossible in a purely domestic context. Is this situation still the case today?


Photo by Descrier

In this post, I will first assess the current state of affairs for social policies in the EU. Then I will focus on the dangers of nationalism and xenophobic reactions to migration, implied in a no-vote, before concluding in the third section that the focus of the debate should be redirected on what kind of EU we want, rather than the issue of further or less integration.