Friday, 16 July 2010

Migrant Labour in Times of Crisis

Colleagues,

Can I encourage you all to download and read the latest edition of CLR-News produced by the European Institute for Construction Labour Research:

http://www.clr-news.org/CLR-News/CLR%20News%202-2010.pdf

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?

Ian

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.

11 comments:

Alan said...

Very interesting and thought provoking item Ian.

Obviously a Marxist perspective here would confirm that certain preconditions would need to exist in order that workers/proletariat felt sufficiently under threat to then create a backlash.

I think though that the movement itself shouldn't be a key driver of a such a challenge or at least, as you suggest around the comment of a social movement, should be part of a broader alliance, that is centrally comprised of bodies/individuals directly affected by the cuts programme.

The coalition will just label any opposition as politically contrived if the labour movement is too strong a feature of it. Whilst are credibility cannot be challenged, we need the public essentially to front this, and in a big way; it is the only way the message will hit home.

Hope you have a good break.

Alan

Alan said...

Very interesting and thought provoking item Ian.

Obviously a Marxist perspective here would confirm that certain preconditions would need to exist in order that workers/proletariat felt sufficiently under threat to then create a backlash.

I think though that the movement itself shouldn't be a key driver of a such a challenge or at least, as you suggest around the comment of a social movement, should be part of a broader alliance, that is centrally comprised of bodies/individuals directly affected by the cuts programme.

The coalition will just label any opposition as politically contrived if the labour movement is too strong a feature of it. Whilst are credibility cannot be challenged, we need the public essentially to front this, and in a big way; it is the only way the message will hit home.

Hope you have a good break.

Alan

育隆 said...

未來屬於那些相信他們美好夢想的人。......................................................

Ian Manborde said...

Hi Alan,

Many thanks for the reply.

I agree with the core point you are raising, and in any case it's about time the electorate in the UK became a bot more interested in what is happening to the services they pay through via tax.

Interestingly, Larry Elliott in today's Guardian paints (as usual) a penetrating outline of the extent to which the Tory finance plans might implode and, although conflict on the streets is definitely not what I prescribe as the response to the coalition, he does flag up a particular economic 'pinch point' next year and the fact that 2011 is the 30th anniversary of the Brixton riots.

Let's see.

Thanks again.

Ian

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