petej + tradeunions   356

The task of politics today is to scare the capitalists as much as communism did | Aditya Chakrabortty | Opinion | The Guardian
Almost all such counterweights to extreme capitalism have disappeared today, from strong trade unions to alternative national models. The resulting debauchery is all around us, from the companies that shovel money towards their shareholders while sending their workers to food banks, to the billionaires now preparing to run for US president, to the major capitals (such as London) that ask barely any questions of passing kleptocrats but instead sell them anything they want.

Countervailing forces made capitalism not only more bearable for those living under it but also more likely to survive. Without them, the system loses both consent and even the will to carry on. The banking crash, Brexit, the impending climate catastrophe – all should serve as distress signals for keen-eared capitalists, yet the answer to each is to serve up more of the same: more finance, more slash-and-burn, more tokenism around carrier bags.

A system so manifestly unwilling to change course will hit the rocks. One paradox of the 20th century was that communism failed, yet helped capitalism to success. The challenge for this century will be whether we can build a new political movement to scare the capitalists silly, so as to force them to come to their senses.
communism  capitalism  inequality  socialDemocracy  socialMovements  socialism  reform  tradeUnions  politics  dctagged  dc:creator=ChakraborttyAditya 
22 days ago by petej
The truth is not enough | LRB
Climate change activism generates two contradictory political forces. One is an increasingly urgent popular sense of the scale of the emergency, the devastation that climate change has already wrought and the worse that is yet to come: it energises popular protest and can inspire almost supernatural commitment. The counter-force is not only Koch-funded climate denialism or oil-industry greenwashing, but the deep imbrication of politics with powerful economic interests that have a large stake – however suicidally short-term – in maintaining something resembling the status quo. The CBI response to Labour’s Green New Deal – that there is ‘no credible pathway’ to net-zero emissions by 2030 – is leaden with spurious ‘realism’. Hope, such as it is, comes from the prospect that the first force can either wrench politicians from their cosiness with the second, or replace them.

Extinction Rebellion’s first demand is for governments to ‘tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency’. In the US, fogged with outright lies and denialism, telling the truth might be a good first step; elsewhere, the truth is widely, if only partially, accepted and understood. In the UK, Parliament has declared a ‘climate emergency’, but the government is still committed to fracking and the continued extraction of North Sea hydrocarbon reserves. The truth in itself is insufficient for action: only in concert with political organisation and planning can it make a dent.
UK  politics  JohnsonBoris  language  arrogance  LabourParty  GreenNewDeal  tradeUnions  membership  PLP  manifesto  policy  planning  strategy  climateChange  ThunbergGreta  UN  dctagged  dc:creator=ButlerJames  LRB 
9 weeks ago by petej
Without a transformation on Brexit, Labour's election chances are dead
Labour was right, after the 2017 general election, to respect the referendum result. There was no concrete Tory Brexit plan laid out; there was every prospect of negotiating a Norway-style deal; and the toxic xenophobia of the 2016 referendum campaign had dissipated.

Three years on from the referendum, the political dynamics have changed dramatically. Since July 2018 it has been clear that no form of Brexit acceptable to the Tory party can get through parliament. The only Brexit MPs could vote for is unpalatable to the Tory right. Among the right-wing electorate, support for a no-deal Brexit has grown. As defined by who wants it, Brexit is now a right-wing project.
UK  politics  LabourParty  EU  Brexit  policy  McCluskeyLen  MarrAndrew  CorbynJeremy  Remain  Leave  TheLeft  referendum  generalElection  FarageNigel  JohnsonBoris  BrexitParty  ToryParty  workingClass  LaveryIan  NandyLisa  class  race  xenophobia  migrants  BlueLabour  tradeUnions  SWP  ReesJohn  DempseyEddie  Stalinism  Lexit  dctagged  dc:creator=MasonPaul 
july 2019 by petej
Brexit will hurt low-paid workers. Freedom of movement is not the problem | Jason Moyer-Lee | Opinion | The Guardian
If the question is how to deal with labour exploitation, the answer lies in improved and enforced employment rights, and a unionisation strategy based on uniting workers, vigorous campaigning and effective collective bargaining. If you don’t believe me, just ask Alex.
UK  work  labour  exploitation  employment  jobs  pay  wages  conditions  precarity  rights  IWGB  freedomOfMovement  tradeUnions  MayTheresa  ToryParty 
december 2018 by petej
Monthly Review | Marx on Immigration
Marx did not elaborate on his reasons for writing that Irish immigration reduced English workers’ wages. He implied that the cause was an oversupply of manual laborers, but his other statements indicate that he considered English xenophobia and the resulting antagonism among workers an even greater problem. The important point, however, is that he was not blaming lower wages on the immigrants themselves; for him the culprits were the colonial system that drove Irish workers to England, and the exploitation of these workers once they arrived.

The same considerations apply in the United States today. The main difference is the addition of legal status as a factor in setting wage levels—the laws that now make work “illegal” for millions of immigrant workers. Immigrant rights advocates may feel it is expedient to cite academic economists like Peri who downplay or deny the downward pressure exerted on wages by the exploitation of undocumented workers. It is not. As Columbia University economist Moshe Adler has noted, this approach does nothing to convince the many U.S. citizens who work in occupations with large numbers of undocumented immigrants and therefore “know firsthand that [exploitation of immigrant workers] puts direct downward pressure on their own wages.”16 Far from helping the movement, citing Peri only adds to these workers’ distrust and resentment toward middle-class immigrant rights advocates.17 More importantly, this approach distracts attention from efforts to address the real issues: the root causes of immigration in U.S. foreign policy, the super-exploitation of immigrant workers, and the common interests of immigrant and native-born workers.


In his 1870 letter, Marx described what he then considered the overriding priority for labor organizing in England: “to make the English workers realize that for them the national emancipation of Ireland is not a question of abstract justice or humanitarian sentiment but the first condition of their own social emancipation.” His closing words of advice to Meyer and Vogt were similar: “You have wide field in America for work along the same lines. A coalition of the German workers with the Irish workers (and of course also with the English and American workers who are prepared to accede to it) is the greatest achievement you could bring about now.” This internationalist and class-based perspective has lost none of its good sense in the century and a half since it was written.
Marx  immigration  Ireland  England  USA  Mexico  CentralAmerica  migration  pay  wages  competition  supply  demand  language  skills  racism  discrimination  legal  deportation  workingClass  xenophobia  employers  sanctions  tradeUnions  internationalism  rights 
november 2018 by petej
Nostalgia Mining | Amber A’Lee Frost
The real commonality among these films, though, is their affection for miners but not so much for workers. To put it another way, the films seem to like miners best when they’re playing a flugelhorn, marching in gay pride parades, or driving their creative children far away from the coalfields so they can dance ballet. Miners were always more than just miners, but it’s a lot harder to talk about the actual jobs they were fighting for. I don’t blame the filmmakers too much for falling short here; it’s hard to explain why preserving such difficult, dangerous, and unhealthy work was so politically strategic, but those jobs gave working-class Brits a hand on the lever of both the welfare state and the industrial policy of the United Kingdom. It’s not that there’s some overlooked romance in pickaxes and pit ponies; workers controlling mining meant that the workers who built the country might be able to run it too, and not in some symbolic, protesty, “whose streets? our streets!” kind of way. I mean really run the country. And they came so damn close.

My fixer says he worries that a recently invigorated love for the miners might have something to do with the fact that they’re no longer a threat to power, and I can’t say I don’t share his concerns. It’s true that there was plenty of vocal support for the miners during the strike, but the difference between mercy and solidarity has become ever-blurrier amid the disastrous global decline of the labor movement. Mercy is for Christians, and solidarity is for socialists. It’s not that the two categories are mutually exclusive (and a little mercy certainly makes the world more bearable), but one is hardly a substitute for the other. Mercy dictates support for the miners because they were wickedly and ruthlessly felled; solidarity dictates support for the miners because the union makes us strong.
UK  mining  miners  coal  MinersStrike  NUM  tradeUnions  history  RedHills  Durham  nostalgia  preservation  ScargillArthur  Stalin  class  film  solidarity 
october 2018 by petej
The Suffocation of Democracy | by Christopher R. Browning | The New York Review of Books
The fascist movements of that time prided themselves on being overtly antidemocratic, and those that came to power in Italy and Germany boasted that their regimes were totalitarian. The most original revelation of the current wave of authoritarians is that the construction of overtly antidemocratic dictatorships aspiring to totalitarianism is unnecessary for holding power. Perhaps the most apt designation of this new authoritarianism is the insidious term “illiberal democracy.” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, Putin in Russia, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, and Viktor Orbán in Hungary have all discovered that opposition parties can be left in existence and elections can be held in order to provide a fig leaf of democratic legitimacy, while in reality elections pose scant challenge to their power. Truly dangerous opposition leaders are neutralized or eliminated one way or another.

Total control of the press and other media is likewise unnecessary, since a flood of managed and fake news so pollutes the flow of information that facts and truth become irrelevant as shapers of public opinion. Once-independent judiciaries are gradually dismantled through selective purging and the appointment of politically reliable loyalists. Crony capitalism opens the way to a symbiosis of corruption and self-enrichment between political and business leaders. Xenophobic nationalism (and in many cases explicitly anti-immigrant white nationalism) as well as the prioritization of “law and order” over individual rights are also crucial to these regimes in mobilizing the popular support of their bases and stigmatizing their enemies.
USA  politics  history  1920s  1930s  fascism  TrumpDonald  nationalism  isolationism  protectionism  authoritarianism  Nazism  Hitler  polarisation  Weimar  democracy  McConnellMitch  KavanaughBrett  judiciary  Germany  Italy  totalitarianism  misinformation  control  funding  lobbying  tradeUnions  illiberalism 
october 2018 by petej
Now is the Time for Worker Power in the Tech Industry | Novara Media
For many tech workers, the idea of joining a trade union seems ridiculous – unions are often thought of as a relic of an older time, irrelevant to the meritocracy that is the tech industry.
The class composition of the industry.

Why is this? If we take a structural approach to the tech industry, we see that the workforce is effectively bifurcated in such a way as to contain potential challenges from below. Those with high leverage over production – say, senior software engineers who know how the systems work – are paid exceedingly well, often partly in stock, and given lavish perks. This is especially true in Silicon Valley, where a frothy startup investment environment forces tech companies of all sizes to offer lavish benefits in order to compete for ‘talent’. Correspondingly, workers with the most leverage over production are convinced they are not actually workers, and that their interests align with their company instead of their class. This amounts to a strategic isolation of the few employees with the most power to disrupt production, who are then showered with material benefits to dissuade them from ever exercising that power.
technology  work  labour  employment  class  tradeUnions  activism  informationTechnology  SiliconValley  power 
july 2018 by petej
Why would young people love a country that seems not to love them? | Zoe Williams | Opinion | The Guardian
The TUC is right: young people should join a union; workplaces should recognise collective bargaining; if this is a class cohort, nobody could tell you more about mobilising as a class bloc than a trade union. But any explanation for young people’s failure to do so that relies on personal deficiencies will turn out to be catastrophically complacent.

Also this week, the young were revealed to be less proud of their Englishness than ever before, with one in 10 saying they were actively embarrassed. There is nothing more corrosive to patriotism, of course, than hearing your situation blithely, constantly misrepresented by your countrymen. A lack of national pride may feel like the least of our problems, set against the damage done when there’s a surfeit of it. Yet it speaks not of cynicism, but of a failure of reciprocity. It’s hard to love a country that shows no sign of loving you.
UK  youth  millennials  tradeUnions  post-industrialism  work  insecurity  precarity  gigEconomy  exploitation  England  Englishness  nationalIdentity  dctagged  dc:creator=WilliamsZoe 
june 2018 by petej
Marx, labor and the problem with Kathi Weeks | The Real Movement
Marx’s own criticism of labor had nothing to do with this — he argued the laborer herself would become superfluous under the capitalist mode of production. Postone, who Weeks cites at one point, make the same point in his own book. The idea that labor and the working class itself would become superfluous — i.e., that a great mass of workers would themselves become unnecessary to the production of material wealth — never appears in Weeks’ book. The desperate demand of the working class for jobs is but a reflex of the material reality that, for the production of real wealth, it is entirely redundant.

Is there a connection between the superfluity of labor and the sudden cessation of labor’s demand for fewer hours? How would we know, since Weeks has no idea these two events meet in the Great Depression; when the overworked millions, who took to the street of Europe and the United States to demand reduction of hours of labor, were replaced by millions of unemployed workers in every advanced country, who no longer demand freedom from work but were forced to beg for work — any work, even in the defense industries where the means for their own destruction were built.
WeeksKathi  work  labour  capitalism  hours  surplusValue  Weber  workEthic  tradeUnions  Marx  jobs  employment  unemployment 
march 2018 by petej
Ink It Onto Your Knuckles – Carillion Is How Neoliberalism Lives and Breathes | Novara Media
In the 19th century, the state stood back to let market forces rip and allow businesses to stand or fall. Under neoliberalism, the role of the state is to continuously create opportunities for profit in the private sector by extending market forces into areas where they did not previously exist. In this sense, Carillion was not the product of entrepreneurship but of government policy.
Carillion  construction  infrastructure  privatisation  PFI  neoliberalism  blacklisting  tradeUnions  business  dctagged  dc:creator=MasonPaul 
january 2018 by petej
Paul Myerscough · Short Cuts · LRB 3 January 2013
What Pret has understood, and its competitors haven’t (or not yet), is how much money there is to be made from what radical left theorists have been referring to since the 1970s as ‘affective labour’. Work increasingly isn’t, or isn’t only, a matter of producing things, but of supplying your energies, physical and emotional, in the service of others. It isn’t what you make, but how your display of feeling makes others feel. This won’t be news to mothers, nurses and prostitutes, but the massive swelling of the service economy means that emotional availability can no longer be dismissed as women’s work; it must be seen as a dominant commodity form under late capitalism.

And it has to be real. ‘The authenticity of being happy is important,’ a Pret manager tells the Telegraph, ‘customers pick up on that.’ It isn’t clear which is the more demanding, authenticity or performance, being it or faking it, but in either case it’s difficult to believe that there isn’t something demoralising, for Pret workers perhaps more than most in the high street, not only in having their energies siphoned off by customers, but also in having to sustain the tension between the performance of relentless enthusiasm at work and the experience of straitened material circumstances outside it. ‘Henceforth,’ as Carl Cederström and Peter Fleming put it in their recent jeremiad Dead Man Working (Zero, £9.99), ‘our authenticity is no longer a retreat from the mandatory fakeness’ of the workplace, ‘but the very medium through which work squeezes the life out of us’.
Pret  PretAManger  work  labour  jobs  emotionalLabour  affectiveLabour  performance  authenticity  surveillance  monitoring  assessment  coercion  tradeUnions  Pamsu  immigration  pay  wages  UK  dctagged  dc:creator=MyerscoughPaul 
august 2017 by petej
If Corbyn's Labour wants to call itself pro-worker, it must be proudly pro-migrant too
Crammed as it is with union hacks and lefties, you would be forgiven for assuming that the Corbyn project would be thrilled at the thought of workers tackling exploitation head-on — a rising tide that could lift all boats. But it’s chosen instead to bind itself to a confusing middle ground, which “refuses to scapegoat migrants” openly, but will also blithely normalise the rhetoric of right-wingers who aren’t held back by similar hangups. Strategy wonks in the Labour Party, always at the mercy of ‘public opinion’, are haunted by the spectres of the Brexit vote, fearful of combatting an insidious common sense that uncontrolled migration is a menace.

The irony is that strategically recruiting anti-migrant rhetoric isn’t a guarantee of electoral success, but a high road to nowhere. In the grand game of migrant-bashing, Labour is simply outclassed by UKIP and the Tories, neither of whom depend for their existence on retaining the good will of multi-ethnic, metropolitan city centres amongst whom this brand of crypto-UKIPpery goes down about as well as does a rousing chorus of left-wing anthem the internationale in a Young Conservatives port & policy evening.

Enough of this craven, milquetoast electioneering. Labour has not previously shied away from challenging the received wisdoms of the Tory administration; that austerity is necessary, that privatisation injects efficiency into a bloated public. It must do so again with the migration question, re-entering the debate not on the exploited migrants, but on policymakers and employers who permit this exploitation. If the Labour party wants to call itself pro-worker, it must also be brave enough to call itself pro-migrant too.
UK  politics  LabourParty  CorbynJeremy  immigration  migration  freedomOfMovement  manifesto  EU  trade  TTIP  employers  pay  wages  tradeUnions  Brexit  dctagged  dc:creator=PennyEleanor  TheLeft 
july 2017 by petej
Corbyn Is Wrong to Indulge Migration Myths – Free Movement Must Be Defended | Novara Media
Borders are a human construct that have slowly been dismantled through a reciprocal arrangement within Europe – it seems clear to me that giving up on freedom of movement is a clear backwards step for anyone who calls themselves progressive. In future I’d like to see a bit more honesty in the debate about freedom of movement. For a start that should mean restating that freedom of movement has had an overall positive impact to our economy and our society – and that the option to retain it does exist, even if some are choosing not to take it. I’d also like to see the left repeatedly say that it is bad bosses and government policy which cause wages to stagnate and rights to deteriorate, not people coming from other countries to find work.
UK  EU  Brexit  LabourParty  CorbynJeremy  immigration  jobs  employment  welfare  tradeUnions  pay  wages  borders  politics  dctagged  dc:creator=LucasCaroline  freedomOfMovement 
july 2017 by petej
Guido Tallman - Between 2010 and 2014 I worked for the... | Facebook
Labour have never been the most progressive party on immigration. It is primarily because of the broad church of its membership and the influence of large trade unions upon policy. So a starting point of opposing the recruitment of low paid unskilled labour, heavily exploited and appallingly treated is a convenient and justifiable starting point. At the moment he is covering the positives to keep the party on board with the Corbyn project.
If Labour is to have a pure and principled policy on immigration, with a starting point of free movement for all, then the left needs to make it possible. To win the unions over to such a position, to win the branches and the CLPs to the same, to win an argument in practice at all levels and not sit back and think that JC can snap his fingers and full communism will prevail.
CorbynJeremy  LabourParty  UK  EU  Brexit  immigration  singleMarket  freedomOfMovement  tradeUnions  politics 
july 2017 by petej
All Worked Up and Nowhere to Go | Amber A’Lee Frost
It’s true that many traditional labor unions are backward or weak; some will need an overhaul. After a notoriously failed strike effort, the Communications Workers of America cleaned house, replaced an incompetent leadership, assessed their failure, and regrouped. (It led to a successful strike against Verizon in 2016, one that yielded 1,300 new jobs and a 10.5 percent raise over four years.) Other unions, like the aforementioned Machinists, must be gutted entirely, their membership reorganized into new institutions. Mostly, though, we need to start organizing the unorganized (i.e., most workers) and focus heavily on strategic points of employment. As much as it would flatter my ego to believe otherwise, I am not at a particularly strategic point; I’m an adjunct professor at a private university, and even when we all strike, it’s only a problem for our little university microcosm.

But take heart, fellow atomized and expendable neoliberal subjects: there is a place for us in the coming wars! The microcosms still need to be organized (every bit helps), and established unions can be refreshed and steered toward radical ends. Nevertheless, I regret to inform you that much of this endeavor will be quite dull. Organizing is not usually as invigorating as rallying; it’s mostly meetings, planning, phone calls, emails, spreadsheets—you know, women’s work. There are a lot of tedious administrative tasks that go into forming and maintaining a union, and the work is rarely as romantic or cinematic as a bunch of taxi drivers locking down JFK. But those moments do happen. They’re sustaining, and they compound one another. Only labor can make it happen. Only workers can shut down production. Only workers can close the ports. Only workers can take capital hostage and make the whole world stand still.
politics  activism  WomensStrike  FisherMark  EtVC  TrumpDonald  travel  ban  airport  NewYork  taxis  NYTWA  strike  Uber  tradeUnions 
july 2017 by petej
Notes From An Emergency
How is it that some dopey kid in Palo Alto gets to decide the political future of the European Union based on what they learned at big data boot camp? Did we lose a war?

Silicon Valley brings us the worst of two economic systems: the inefficiency of a command economy coupled with the remorselessness of laissez-faire liberalism.
nationalism  TrumpDonald  Europe  USA  SiliconValley  Facebook  Google  Amazon  Microsoft  Apple  monopolies  surveillance  personalData  security  authoritarianism  regulation  globalisation  tradeUnions  resistance  accountability 
may 2017 by petej
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