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.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Feed the world: Can trade liberalisation help to achieve global food security?

Photo by Jason Taellious
Free trade’s expansion into the realm of food and agriculture has given residents of the Global North access to a greater range of food at lower costs than ever before. As with most commodities since free trade was implemented globally during the 1980s and 1990s, food has been globalised. However since the 2008 global financial crisis critiques of this prevailing economic system have become more prominent. The wisdom of free trade economics is being questioned at an unprecedented level, with many seeing it as increasingly evident that the people of the Global South are being exploited for the benefit of those in rich nations. With the financial crisis came a food price crisis, which led to the number of people not receiving adequate nutrition reaching a level not seen in decades, with one in seven people going hungry worldwide.

Paradoxically, more food is being produced than ever, and the burden of hunger is tragically placed in developing countries. In this guest post, Angus Macleod analyses whether this crisis, and general malnourishment in the developing world, can be considered a result of the trade liberalisation policies which dominate global economics, and if so, how viable food sovereignty, the main alternative to this system, can be.


Thursday, 31 August 2017

After the elections: Where next for the Labour Party?

Against all odds and predictions, the Labour Party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell secured a much better result in the general elections on 8 June 2017 than expected. Considering the resulting hung parliament and the Conservative minority government of Theresa May having to rely on the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) as well as Conservative party internal tensions over Brexit negotiations, many observers point to the likelihood of renewed elections in the near future. What does this mean for the Labour Party? In this blog post, I will reflect on the potential labour strategy for the next months and year.


Monday, 14 August 2017

Workers’ Cooperatives: The British experience in the 1970s.

The 1970s in Britain were a decade of contestation and polarisation. Following a leftward shift amongst the labour movement, groups such as the Institute for Workers’ Control (IWC) supported the concept of industrial democracy to suggest a new direction for a worker-oriented economy. In this guest post, Daniel Burridge reports on the formation of the so-called “Wedgwood Benn cooperatives” (Oakeshott 1978: 108), the purest expression of the industrial democratic ideal from the perspective of the IWC. These were located at the Triumph factory in Meriden, the Scottish Daily Express printing factory in Glasgow and the Fisher Bendix factory in Kirkby, near Liverpool. The new tactic involved buying out the factory sites and equipment of jaded private ownership and running production on the democratically-decided terms of the workers.


Saturday, 22 July 2017

The Students’ Union of Nottingham University moves towards paying a Living Wage. When will the University follow?

In a referendum organised by students at the University of Nottingham, an overwhelming majority of 96 per cent of participating students voted in favour of the University of Nottingham Students’ Union (SU) to become a Living Wage employer and pay its entire staff the Living Wage, as calculated by the Living Wage Foundation. In this guest post, Ed Marks, one of the leading activists in the referendum, reflects on the outcome.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Fighting for Public Water in Europe.

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. In my open access article ‘Fighting for public water: the first successful European Citizens’ Initiative, “Water and Sanitation are a Human Right”’, recently published in the journal Interface: a journal for and about social movements, I analyse the underlying dynamics of this struggle and its impact on EU policy-making in detail. 

In this blog post, I will discuss the main factors underlying this success: 1) the long history of water struggles; 2) the unique quality of water; and 3) the broad alliance of participating actors.


Monday, 26 June 2017

Low Pay at the University of Nottingham – the cleaners’ perspective.

The Living Wage/Anti-casualisation campaign group at the University of Nottingham hosted the event Nottingham – Living Wage City? Living Wage University? on Tuesday, 13 June. It brought together a number of positive examples of Living Wage employers from Nottingham as well as illustrated the hardship suffered by people on less than the minimum wage, people on casual teaching contracts or fixed-term research contracts.

Cleaners at Nottingham University are one of the lowest paid groups of staff members. In this blog post, the address to the event by Sonja, a cleaner at the University, is reprinted. We have altered her name for purposes of anonymity.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Nottingham – Living Wage City? Living Wage University?

Bringing together speakers from trade unions, employers and those working for less than the Living Wage from across Nottingham, this event on Tuesday, 13 June was part of the Living Wage/Anti-casualisation campaign at the University of Nottingham. The purpose of the meeting was twofold. First, we celebrated a number of Living Wage employers in Nottingham, setting a good example for others to follow. Second, it was highlighted that the University of Nottingham is still not paying all members of staff a Living Wage despite of year on year multi-million pounds of surplus. In this respect, we launched our booklet Living close to the edge:Confronting Insecurity and Low Pay at the University of Nottingham, which compiles anonymised statements by University of Nottingham staff members talking about their hardship resulting from low pay and casualised working conditions.

The Living Wage is an hourly rate, currently £8.45 outside London, set independently and updated annually in November by the Living Wage Foundation.