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.

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.


Thursday, 1 June 2017

Another education is possible: The UCU Congress 2017!

The annual Congress of the University and College Union (UCU) met in Brighton from 26 to 29 May to assess the situation of Further and Higher Education in the UK. Since 2010 and the first Conservative-led government, Further and Higher Education have come under significant pressure. Against the background of the global financial crisis, salaries have fallen in real terms, the workforce has become increasingly casualised, moves towards privatisation have been facilitated and tuition fees have been increased to £9000 per year. And yet, the Labour Party manifesto for the general elections on 8 June 2017 offers a clear alternative. In this blog post, I will reflect on this possibility against the background of discussions at the UCU Congress.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Labour Party Manifesto 2017 – a clear alternative, worth fighting for!

While many in the press still wonder about the leaking of some parts of the Manifesto and others focus narrowly on the detailed costings, there is no doubt that this Labour Party Manifesto represents a clear alternative to the austerity policies of the Conservative government. Abolition of university tuition fees, nationalisation of rail, water and postal services, more money for the NHS and all paid for by higher taxes on the rich, this is a radical programme for social justice.


Friday, 12 May 2017

Greek Solidarity Co-ops: disruption of austerity beyond the electoral terrain.

Thursday, 11 May 2017, George Kokkinidis, Leicester University, gave a seminar in the Nottingham Sumac Centre on the objectives and principles of Greek Solidarity Co-ops in the ongoing crisis. While Greece was bullied into accepting the restructuring demands by the European Union (EU) in the summer of 2015, George made clear that resistance and the search for alternatives on the ground is alive and well today. In this blog post, I will draw on George’s presentation in an assessment of the state of the Left and ongoing possibilities of resistance.