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, 28 September 2016

Standing Up For Education!

On Tuesday, 20 September, Standing Up For Education, the latest publication by Spokesman Books, was launched in the Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham. It provides an excellent compilation of insights from different perspectives including students, teachers, trade unionists and parents into the devastating processes of destruction of primary and secondary education. Emphasising the situation in Nottingham, the volume provides a snapshot into processes affecting also other local communities across the UK. In this blog post, I will report on the contributions by four of the authors, who were present at the book launch.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Towards Labour Centred Development

In 2014, Ben Selwyn published the book The Global Development Crisis (Polity, 2014), in which he critically engages with market-led and state-led developmental models alike. Importantly, he puts forward the novel concept of labour centred development. In this blog post, I will discuss the main contributions of this remarkable book and explore further the possibilities of labour centred development. 


Monday, 29 August 2016

Chinese labour in the global economy: capitalist exploitation and strategies of resistance.

China is generally regarded as the new economic powerhouse in the global political economy. Some even talk of an emerging power, which may in time replace the US as the global economy’s hegemon. And yet, there is a dark underside to this ‘miracle’ in the form of workers’ long hours, low pay and lack of welfare benefits. Increasing levels of inequality have gone hand in hand with widespread working conditions characterised by super-exploitation. Nevertheless, Chinese workers have not simply accepted these conditions of exploitation. They have started to fight back. In a new special issue of the journal Globalizations, co-edited by Chun-Yi Lee and myself, the contributors have analysed these various forms of resistance by Chinese workers and the way they are organised. In this blog post, I will provide a brief overview of the contents of this special issue.



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.