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.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Training for Exploitation? Politicising Employability & Reclaiming Education.

Employability is a powerful and increasingly dominant word within the universities. Nottingham University is proud to be “ranked in the world top 100 Universities for employability”. This is because students are now the main funder of universities. And employability provides the answer to why the £9.250 tuition fees per year are worth it – even if one needs to in-debt oneself for this investment. Consequently, employability services are not only spreading like wildfire but also academic staff is increasingly pressurised to demonstrate in what ways their course facilitates students' employability. For these employability educators the Precarious Workers Brigade just published a book called “Training for Exploitation? Politicising Employability and Reclaiming Education” (a free pdf is available online). The book offers a “critical resource pack to assist teachers and students in deconstructing dominant narratives around work, employability and careers, and explores alternative ways of engaging with work and the economy”. In this guest post Vera Weghmann introduces the book by explaining what employability is and why it needs to be politicised.


Thursday, 5 January 2017

The Class Sentiment of the Precariat: Reflections on social movements in Portugal 2011-2013.

In 2011, analysing new and ever more widely spread practices of informal work Guy Standing made his important intervention announcing the emergence of the precariat as a new class-in-the-making (see The Precariat – a new class agent for transformation?). In this guest post, Florian Butollo critically engages with Standing’s claim through an examination of social movements in Portugal between 2011 and 2013. He demonstrates that provided we have a broader and more political understanding of class, these movements can still be understood in class terms, providing us with a better way of thinking about the possibilities of collective resistance against exploitation.  

Sunday, 18 December 2016

How the West came to Rule? Challenging Eurocentrism.

The notion of uneven and combined development (U&CD), introduced by Leon Trotsky in his assessment of the Russian political economy and the possibilities of transformation toward communism in the early 20th century, has gained increasing attention within International Relations. In this blog post, I want to engage critically with the recent book How The West Came To Rule (Pluto Press, 2015) by Alexander Anievas and Kerem Nişancioğlu, which draws extensively on U&CD in its analysis of the emergence and spread of capitalism.


Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Future of UK-China Relations post-Brexit - China as a Hope Project

With Brexit on the horizon, the UK is currently in search for alternative trade agreements, not only with European countries, but also other economies around the world. The emerging market of China plays a key role in this strategy. In this blog post, I will assess the potential and implications of future UK – China relations.


Photo by Sergeant Paul Shaw LBIPP/MOD


Sunday, 13 November 2016

Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century

Despite the ongoing ramifications of the global economic crisis of 2007/2008, capitalism continues to reap super profits. In his fascinating book Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century: Globalization, Super-Exploitation and Capitalism’s Final Crisis (Monthly Review Press, 2016) John Smith unravels the underlying dynamics of global capitalism. By tracing the production of the T-shirt, the cup of coffee, and the iPhone, he demonstrates how these generate the transfer of enormous surplus value from countries in the Global South to transnational corporations in the North. In this blog post, I will outline several of the key contributions of this book and offer a number of critical reflections.  


Thursday, 20 October 2016

The Struggle of organising Migrant Workers

With precarious forms of work increasingly also emerging within the core of industrialised countries in the global economy, the issue of how to organise migrant workers has become an ever more pressing concern. In his talk at Nottingham University on Tuesday, 17 October, Aziz Choudry reported on related challenges, drawing on two of his recently co-edited books, Unfree Labour? Struggles of Migrant and Immigrant Workers in Canada (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2016), together with Adrian Smith, and Just Work? Migrant Workers’ Struggles Today (London: Pluto Press, 2015), together with Mondli Hlatshwayo. In this blog post, I will draw out a couple of key insights resulting from Choudry’s analysis of a large range of different forms of migrant labour organising.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Proposals for Alternatives to Neo-liberalism: SIGTUR's Futures Commission.


The Southern Initiative on Globalisation and Trade Union Rights (SIGTUR) launched its Futures Commission in Johannesburg, South Africa, in June 2013 with the assistance of the Chris Hani Institute and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation’s regional office for Southern Africa. This Commission, a group of left-wing intellectuals and trade union representatives, was entrusted with the task of undertaking first steps towards developing concrete alternatives to neo-liberal globalisation. 

As a first step, the Futures Commission has now published the booklet Challenging Corporate Capital: Creating an Alternative to Neo-liberalism. It includes proposals for labour and tax justice, a fair trade regime, a democracy-driven, public sector transformation as well as a response to the climate crisis. In this blog post, I will provide brief overviews of the contributions as well as links to the larger versions of the papers, freely available on the website of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Johannesburg/South Africa.