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, 23 June 2015

Class struggle in times of crisis: conceptualising agency of resistance.

While movements of resistance against neo-liberal globalization have increasingly become subject of analysis, there is little agreement on how to conceptualize such agency. In my recent article Class struggle in times of crisis: conceptualising agency of resistance, published in the on-line, open access academic journal Spectrum: Journal of Global Studies, I argue that a historical materialist analysis is necessary to capture the historical specificity of capitalism (see also Analysing exploitation and resistance). Nevertheless, a focus on class struggle does not imply a reductionist, economic determinist account. In order to include divisions along ethnicity and gender into analyses of class struggle, I suggest four concrete ways of how to conceptualise expanded forms of class struggle beyond the work place, including (1) Robert Cox’s focus on non-established, informal labour; (2) Harry Cleaver’s emphasis on the ‘social factory’; (3) Kees van der Pijl’s analysis of the extension of exploitation into the sphere of social reproduction; and (4) Chandra Talpade Mohanty’s grounding of analysis in the experience of the most exploited female workers in the Global South.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Going Beyond Academia: The Challenges of Engaged Research.

What is engaged research? How can it be made acceptable within academia and be useful for social movements? What is the relationship between engaged researchers and activists? Over 50 scholar-activists gathered at the University of Nottingham for the workshop on Going Beyond Academia, hosted by the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (CSSGJ) to discuss these issues and related themes. In this blog post, I will make some personal observations on some of the themes discussed at this fascinating and extremely productive workshop.

Friday, 5 June 2015

The Future of the Left – Where next for Britain’s labour movement?

‘The Conservatives are not invincible – splits over the forthcoming EU referendum and their small majority in parliament are only two signs of their weakness. Together, the Left can stem the tide of austerity’, these were the words of the TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady. In front of a full lecture theatre with 300 people, she delivered the first Ken Coates memorial lecture, organised by the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and co-hosted by the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (CSSGJ) and the local University and College Union (UCU) association. In this post, I will draw out some of her key points.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Austerity and Resistance – Greece in the Eurozone crisis.

Concerns over Greece’s ability to pay back its debt continue unabated, with another crisis meeting of Eurozone finance ministers having taken place in Brussels on Monday, 11 May. While the media focuses on Greece’s ability to meet the conditions by the European Union, in this post Jamie Jordan and I have another look at some of the key underlying dynamics of the crisis.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Organising the Unorganisable? Voices from the Bottom Up.

As a result of neo-liberal restructuring, the informalisation of work in the global economy has been intensified. While precarious forms of labour have always been predominant in the Global South, they have increasingly also spread into the Global North. As a result, trade unions are under pressure, as it is much more difficult to organise a workforce in temporary, vulnerable and constantly changing employment relations. And yet, there are also examples of successful organising campaigns by precarious workers. In this blog post, I will discuss some of the key themes, which were discussed at the excellent workshop Organising the Unorganisable, brought together by Maurizio Atzeni and held at Loughborough University on 23 and 24 April 2014.

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.