Can I encourage you all to download and read the latest edition of CLR-News produced by the European Institute for Construction Labour Research:
The Institute comprises a dynamic, authoritative cooperative network of researchers and trade union officers at European level directly engaged in research and trade union activity across the EU.
I was particularly interested in a comment in the latest CLR News (entitled Migrant Workers in a Time of Crisis) which came out of a seminar held in May earlier this year called The economic crisis: a disaster for trade unions or an opportunity for revitalisation?
Ultimately the seminar suggested that the context of the global recession (particular within construction) created relatively greater opportunity for mobilisation and revitalisation.
A suggestion for this conclusion came from the following notion:
Social protest movements have historically intensified at the beginning of an economic upturn, when people realise there are problems with distribution as a result of the inadequacy of the political leadership. Therefore, there is a vital role for trade unions to be involved, and the French are typically exemplary in terms of organising protest movements. (p.60)
An interesting point I thought however, what I remain to feel confident about is the strategic response of the UK labour movement in particular to what is emerging, day-by-day, as a frontal, ideologically-driven assault on not just the public sector, but also trade union rights.
If we are to see a greater propensity for the UK labour movement to engage in what we know are social movements I am very interested in what will act as the drivers and catalysts for this, particularly in the way that we engage with (or construct) a wideranging public resenment toward the fiscal review of public expenditure, with mobilising activity allied to the labour movement.
So, my question generally is, if we agree with the assertion from the CLR seminar, from where does the activity arise that creates the social movement protests to the Con-Dem-induced crisis emerging across the UK?
I am away on holiday to France from 25th July (a country that knows how to organise a strike!) and won't be back until 8th August.