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.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Hope for Change? Critical reflections on the potential of a renewed Labour government.

With the 2015 general elections on the horizon, there is again a sense of optimism amongst left, progressive forces in the UK in view of a possible victory by the Labour Party next year. After years of one austerity budget after another, brutal cuts to public spending, job losses across the economy and intensified privatisation of the public sector, removing the current ConDem government has become ever more urgent. Nevertheless, what can we actually expect from a Labour government? In this blog post, I will critically reflect on this issue discussing two recent events, Len McCluskey’s, the general secretary of the large trade union Unite, almost unconditional support for Labour in the elections (BBC, 30 June 2014) and the Labour Party’s unwillingness to endorse and support the strike by public sector workers on 10 July 2014 (OTS News, 9 July 2014; Labour List, 8 July 2014).  

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Form over Contents or the misguided discussions over the new President of the EU Commission.

David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, was defeated in Brussels over his attempt to block the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker as the next President of the European Commission, and yet celebrated at home in the UK for making a stand against the appointment of a federalist at the helm of the Commission (BBC, 30 June 2014). In this blog post, I will argue that these discussions between federalists, striving towards a more strongly integrated Europe, and nationalists, attempting to protect national sovereignty, are fruitless and misguided in view of the EU’s current economic and social problems. They privilege the form of integration over its contents, thereby blocking more substantial questions of how the European political economy should be organised.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Catholics in the Italian water movement!

Last week the Italian Water Movements Forum (Forum) celebrated the anniversary of the victory in the 2011 referenda against water privatisation by giving great emphasis to news coming from Chile: the halt by the Chilean government to the Hydro Aysen hydropower project. The project consists of five big dams to be built along two rivers in the Patagonia region by an international consortium led by the Italian government owned company Enel. This emphasis on foreign policy issues does not arise from the fact that in contemporary Italy there has been nothing to celebrate after and beyond the 2011 referendum. On the contrary “la lotta continua” and is still very active both at national and local level, with the struggle for “water as human right and commons” becoming a paradigmatic battle for democracy and against the commodification of human life, inspiring also other social mobilisations around the commons. In this guest post, Emanuele Fantini discusses the struggles of the Italian water movement with a particular emphasis on the role played by Catholic groups.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Analysing exploitation and resistance: the centrality of class struggle.

In my recent article ‘Transnational Labour Solidarity in (the) Crisis’, published in the Global Labour Journal and freely downloadable here, I assert three key claims: (1) the importance of a historical materialist approach to the analysis of exploitation and resistance; (2) the significance of understanding the structuring conditions of global capitalism; and (3) the centrality of class struggle defined broadly. In this post, I will provide an overview of the main claims. This article is my conceptual contribution to the Transnational Labour Project at the Centre for Advanced Study in Oslo/Norway.

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.