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, 13 April 2015

Challenging Corporate Capital: Creating an Alternative to Neo-Liberalism.

From 25 to 27 March 2015, the second meeting of the Futures Commission, hosted by the Chris Hani Institute, was held in Cape Town/South Africa. The Futures Commission had initially been set up in a first meeting in Johannesburg/South Africa in June 2013 as the result of an initiative by the Southern Initiative on Globalisation and Trade Union Rights (SIGTUR) (see SIGTUR’s Futures Commission). The Futures Commission, consisting of left academics and trade union representatives from SIGTUR affiliates and supported by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, was entrusted with the task to develop alternatives to neo-liberalism. At its Congress in Perth/Australia in December 2013 (see SIGTUR’s tenth Congress), SIGTUR identified four key themes as common challenges for all SIGTUR affiliates: (1) the growing power of transnational corporations (TNCs) especially expressed in a new round of free trade negotiations such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement; (2) the loss of government revenue due to tax avoidance in tax havens; (3) the restructuring and privatisation pressures on the public sector; as well as (4) the problem of climate change and the related need for a just transition to a post-carbon based economy. At its meeting in Cape Town, the Futures Commission focused on proposals in all four key areas. In this blog post, I will report on these discussions.


Thursday, 2 April 2015

The power of Transnational Corporations and the quest for tax justice!

On Monday, 16 March Naomi Fowler from the Tax Justice Network gave a presentation at Nottingham University as part of the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice’s (CSSGJ) seminar series. Formed in 2003, the Tax Justice Network includes many former employees in the financial industry amongst its activists and the monthly Taxcast is one of the key ways of influencing political debate.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Big business and US free trade policy: Corporations in Control!

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

United Voices of the World: The Struggle for Justice for Cleaners.

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

The End of Cheap Labour in China?

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

The Great Pension Robbery – UCU unravelling!


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

Greece at the ballot box – How should the European left show solidarity?

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.