Thursday, 8 January 2015

2015: Reasons to be Cheerful


Have returned to Ruskin from the Christmas break and, as it is as hectic as ever, I am copping out slightly of writing an original first post for 2015, by referencing a great article written In These Times just before the end of 2014, which signalled another set of reasons to remain hugely optimistic about the future of organised labour.

I had better not get into hot water with the good folks at In These Times so rather than reproducing the text, here is the link to the article on the 9 most important victories for workers in 2014:

When we come together, when we fight together, we can win.
As we have always known and understood as trade unionists, a victory for workers anywhere, is a victory for workers everywhere (nicking and adapting a profound Martin Luther King phrase). So, whilst the article focuses on gains by the labour movement in the US, we all gain strength from these, not least in the context of a neo-liberal globalisation.

When I first read the article I was already minded to think that some of the gains e.g. those by the courts and NLRB extending workers' rights to those nominally deemed to be self-employed, or recognising that franchisors (like McDonalds) can be treated as employers and held liable for infringements of employment and labour laws, and even confirming that workers can use company email for union/organising activity, were anathema in the current economic and political climate the UK and much of Europe.

Indeed, as I reflected on the article, and the job losses at City Link where I live in Coventry, it placed the US gains in even sharper relief, as these UK workers find that the company, bought for £1 by venture capitalists, would have to rely on the government scheme to possibly get the redundancy payments they are entitled to (the self-employed, so called 'partners' entitled to nothing) as the company was revealed to be run on the basis of debt and perversely a company's workforce is not a preferential creditor in such circumstances.

The casino capitalism of City Link: A sure-fire way to destroy local and national economies.
As the day's rolled by after the closure of City Link the scandal of how the company was run in order that 'investors' be shielded from its eventual implosion was revealed in successive articles by the Guardian (e.g.

It is only a strong international labour movement, backed by regulatory fairness in employment practice, that can act as a corrective to the casino capitalism that lays behind the scandal of City Link.

As the In These Times article, and many other labour movement victories in 2014 evidence, we should never abandon the struggle to realise these goals on a global scale.

Those who built labour movements around the world didn't, and nor should we.

I look forward to reporting on further victories in 2015, and discussing them with you if our paths should cross.

In Solidarity


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