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, 17 November 2015

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions at 20: Still strong, still fighting!

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

Southern Insurgency?

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

“Sic Vos Non Vobis” (For You, But Not Yours): The Struggle for Public Water in Italy.

Resistance against water privatisation is one of the success stories in the struggle against neo-liberal globalisation. And where privatisation has already taken place, there is a tendency towards re-municipalisation (see Lobina, Kishimoto and Petitjean 2014). It has become clear that the private sector can simply not deliver on its promises of higher quality, lower consumer charges and universal access. In my recently published, openly accessible article “Sic Vos Non Vobis” (For You, But Not Yours): TheStruggle for Public Water in Italy in Monthly Review, I analyse the dynamics underlying the successful mobilisation for a referendum against water privatisation in Italy in 2011. It is based on a series of interviews with members of the Italian water movement between 25 March and 8 April 2014.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Working for an Alternative Economic Policy in Europe: the EuroMemo Group meeting in Roskilde.

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

Alternatives to privatising public services!

‘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

Resisting Privatisation: Assessing the impact of the ECI 'Water is a Human Right'.

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.