Saturday, 1 May 2021

A warm greeting to all on May Day

 Dear Colleagues,

I wanted to post a brief message to wish all those who take the time to read this blog, a happy May Day. Whilst there is always much to occupy our time and energy in the struggle for decent, safe work, we should remember the many reasons why organised labour remains the hope of humanity.

In the words of Martin Luther King, "The labor movement was the principle force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old age pensions, government relief for the destitute and, above all else, new wage levels that meant not mere survival but a tolerable life. The captains of industry did not lead the transformation; they resisted it until they were overcome. When in the thirties the wave of union organisation crested over the nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society".

In Solidarity


Sunday, 25 April 2021

International Workers' Memorial Day: Tues 28th April

Dear Colleagues,

IWMD this year has an additional poignancy and sense of anger in the shadow of the vast number of workers who have lost their lives needlessly during the pandemic. Whilst the government hopes that a public inquiry will provide sufficient cover and distance to shield them from liability, the trade union movement will continue its action to hold respective employers to account.

Please spare a minute at 11am on Tues 28th April to remember those lives lost, and all other lives lost at work, and as a result of work - and let us commit once again to fight for a safe working lives.

In Solidarity


Saturday, 27 March 2021

COVID-19: Impacts on the cultural industries and the implications for policy

 Dear Colleagues,

On Tuesday 30th March I have organised the first stage in a root-and-branch review of the way in which Equity develops and implements all aspects of equalities, diversity and inclusion policy, strategy and communications. I am very pleased to say that the keynote speaker is Dr. Dave O'Brien of Edinburgh University ( as a result of his critically important and valuable insights on the emerging implications of Covid-19 on the creative and cultural industries workforce, and of the equalities and diversities impacts also.

Some of Dr. O'Brien's output around this includes the following:

Class, Covid-19 and cultural occupations:

A jobs crisis in the creative and cultural industries:

Why is understand inequality important to understanding the creative economy?

The emerging impacts of the pandemic on the work undertaken to advance the equalities and diversity agenda are deeply worrying. As noted in the May '20 publication (listed above) it was clear that, for example, the trends of diminishing opportunities for workers of working class origin were hardening, and that there presence was declining even further.

The work to address this is on-going within Equity, and sister unions representing workers across the creative and cultural industries. Recently, for example, our work has included an open letter to Arts Council England demanding greater attention to the way in which grant funding ensures diversity in the workforce of funded activity:

There is, of course, much more to be done. Our event on Tuesday is part of the process of strengthening the work of the union in resisting any way in which there is a return to 'business as usual' in the industry, and a worsening of the opportunities to get in and get on across the industry for under-represented groups of workers.

In Solidarity


Sunday, 14 March 2021

Activist organizing and organizing activism: A post-pandemic world in the making

Dear Colleagues,

I am still having problems accessing this blog on a routine basis. This explains the last three posts all published closely together, and then nothing 'til this weekend. I am thinking of shifting over to a more stable platform like WordPress.

For now though, here is introduction to an abstract that I have submitted to an online conference planned for June/May by the journal Ephemera. More details are here:

Abstract: An activist scholar’s account from the UK of the maintenance of institutional racism within the legacy of a pandemic

This paper proposes an activist scholar’s account of the changing, divergent nature of institutional racism across the UK from January 2020. 

It pinpoints the important dimensions of resistance, encompassing direct and indirect forms involving workers and civil society, whilst acknowledging strong oppositional forces spanning a spectrum of resurgent Neo Nazi movements and volatile reactionary forces in government. 

Importantly also, from the perspective of movement theory and practice this is an account of how anti-racist movements shift their gaze and appreciation of the fabric of modern-day institutional racism, and its location in the historical and global context of capitalist political economy.

I will confirm if my paper is accepted, and share the full, final version here.

In Solidarity


Wednesday, 20 January 2021

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement and Workers’ Rights

 Dear Colleagues,

Just a brief email to alert you to a forthcoming paper by Keith Ewing, John Hendy and Nicola Countouris which provides arguably the best, current analysis and the profound challenges posed to workers' and trade union rights as a result of the EU-UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA).

The full paper will be published this month by the European Trade Union Institute as part of their Policy Brief series. You will be able to get a copy of the paper here:

To provide a flavour of the paper and its analytical perspective, here are the identified policy implications from the TCA for worker and trade union rights:

1. In some limited respects, the EU-UK TCA goes beyond the diluted, and at times tokenistic, protection of multilateral labour standards contained in the other FTAs concluded by the EU, e.g. with countries like Canada or South Korea.

2. However the few additional labour clauses it contains, and the overall weak supervision and dispute resolution procedures applying to them, offer an unsatisfactory regulatory framework, one that is unlikely to deter future UK Government from eroding presentday standards. • 

3. The implementation of the labour provisions in the TCA will require close monitoring in the years to come, and should become one of the priorities of the five-year review catered for by Article FINPROV.3. 

Please do read the full paper and I welcome any thoughts in response.

In Solidarity


Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Despised: Why the Modern Left Loathes the Working Class

Dear Colleagues,

Still struggling to access this blog and this accounts for far too occasional posts. Still working on the idea of moving over to WordPress, but for now will still post whenever I can.

This is just a brief post to say that I have been sent by Polity a copy of an 'interesting' book by Paul Embery, a Blue Labour trade union activist and journalist - he posts regularly here: UnHerd | think again

I will be writing a fuller review of the book, but for now, based on what I have read, my instinct is first to be comradely and welcome the book as an aid to questioning and reflecting the political state of the Left in the UK and of its future.

More broadly though a key complaint thus far is that Embery struggles to build and maintain a cohesive logic or argument. There is much he asserts that I agree with, but his core claims of a zealous metropolitan liberal elite are incoherent, and not least because of a visceral anger that gets in the way of rational argument.

I am only a third of the way through and shall continue in order to post a fuller review here.

In the meantime though, can I wish comrades a decent Christmas, and send good wishes for a better, healthier 2021.

In Solidarity



Sunday, 4 October 2020

Unions Renewed: Building power in an age of finance

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to promote a timely, innovative new book in the field of trade union renewal, Unions Renewed.

I was fortunate to be asked to comment on an early draft, and recommend the book as one of the few contemporary examinations of the challenges and opportunities of renewal in the context of financialisation.

The primary focus of this new book is not just on the rise and expansion in the power, influence and impact of the financial services sector, but more specifically, the way in which financialisation (the catch-all term for this trend) has impacted upon work and workers generally, and the capacity of trade unions more specifically.

A critically important example of financialisation here is the way in which wage share (and thus bargaining powers for trade unions) for workers has diminished whilst profits for an elite tier of financial institutions has vastly increased

Financialisation diverts resources away from real economy activities and fuels asset price bubbles which then increases the risk of financial crisis with further consequences for the real economy. 

Financialisation can amplify boom and bust cycles in the real economy. There is a strong case for saying that if the UK financial sector had been smaller pre the 2008 crisis, the subsequent crisis would not have been as deep and prolonged. 

A key strength of the book is the examination of the differing ways in which trade unions can respond. This includes a timely and welcome re-assessment of the value of alternative models of worker control e.g. co-operatives.

You can buy a copy of the new book via this link:

In Solidarity