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The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects

RADICAL HISTORIES / HISTORIES OF RADICALISM

CALL FOR PAPERS

RADICAL HISTORIES/HISTORIES OF RADICALISM

A MAJOR CONFERENCE AND PUBLIC HISTORY FESTIVAL

1-3 July 2016, Queen Mary University of London

This international event commemorates twenty years since the death of the leftwing social historian Raphael Samuel and forty years since the founding of History Workshop Journal. The event will explore radical approaches to the past and histories of radical ideas and action through lectures, panels, performances, screenings, workshops and exhibitions.

The event is hosted by Queen Mary University of London and organised by the Raphael Samuel History Centre (www.raphael-samuel.org.uk). It is intended to engage a diverse audience, and to bring together practitioners of many varieties of historical research, curatorship, writing and performance, from both inside and outside the academy. Other venues and partners for the event include Bishopsgate Institute, the London Metropolitan Archives and Tower Hamlets Local Studies Library.

The event will open on the evening of Friday 1st July with a plenary session ‘Radical history then and now’ involving radical historians, historians of radical movements and movement activists, past and present. It will close with a panel discussion on ‘Raphael Samuel and his Legacies’. In between these plenary sessions, there will be papers, film screenings, workshops, meetings and performances, all exploring a wide range of themes and ideas in radical history.

We have grouped these themes as follows:

  1. Radical movements:
    History of radical movements and organisations; parties; left-wing activism; working-class radicalisms; national liberation struggles; popular mobilisations, past and present.
  2. Diversity, difference and beyond:
    Histories of feminism, gender and sexuality; histories and activism of race and ethnicity; disability politics.
  3. Local and global histories:
    Radical London; migration/movement of peoples; empire/post-colonial histories; globalisation; internationalism in a global age.
  4. Culture, art and environment:
    Heritage and public history; radical arts; environmental activism; housing politics.
  5. History, policy, and the idea of politics:
    Europe; government; elites; the move to the right; austerity; neo-liberalism; the politics of the academy

How to contribute:
Contributions that reflect on any of these themes in relation to any period of history are invited from academic and non-academic historians, and from those working or practising in the arts, education, heritage and culture, as well as activists campaigning in any of these areas.

The themes are indicative only, and we will consider proposals that fall outside them so long as these relate to the overall conference theme. We welcome offers of traditional academic papers but would particularly like to encourage proposals for other session formats likely to engage a varied audience, for example panel discussions, interactive hands-on workshops (for example, around primary source materials), photo-essays, exhibitions and performances. Contributions that focus on any period of history are welcome, as are contributions that offer reflections on methodologies (whether of the historian or the activist).

Please send a 250 – 500 word proposal, including a description of the format and content of the proposed paper, session, workshop, meeting, screenings, or performance. Include an abstract if appropriate, and the names of any other speakers or participants. AT THE TOP OF YOUR PROPOSAL PLEASE INDICATE THE CONFERENCE STRAND (A –E above) TO WHICH YOU THINK YOUR PROPOSAL RELATES MOST CLOSELY.

Please submit your proposal to Katy Pettit, Raphael Samuel History Centre administrator (k.pettit@uel.ac.uk) by Monday September 14th. Proposers will be notified by November 30th.

***

About the Raphael Samuel History Centre (RSHC)
Originally founded by the historian Raphael Samuel at the University of East London in 1996 as the Centre for East London History, and renamed after him in 2008, the Raphael Samuel History Centre has since expanded into a partnership between UEL, Birkbeck College University of London, Queen Mary University of London and Bishopsgate Institute in the City of London.

An extensive range of events, projects and research activities operates under our umbrella as we seek to stimulate debate about the continuing force of the past in the present. Our dynamic and engaged approach to history goes beyond the limits of the academy to include people of all ages and backgrounds.

The Centre is recognised nationally and internationally as the hub for intelligent debate that links history to present-day concerns and crosses boundaries between academic and public/popular history. We aim to put history in conversation both with other disciplines, and with contemporary activism and politics. In the spirit of Raphael Samuel and more broadly of the History Workshop movement, we are committed to a democratic, non-elitist and inclusive approach to history. We aim to support, nurture and encourage both new-career academic historians and those working in history outside academia. We provide a forum for debate about the place of history in public life, in schools, heritage organizations and the media. We enter into partnership with other organizations – large and small – in order to stimulate interest in and discussion of history.

First Published in http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/cfp-radical-histories-histories-of-radicalism

***END***

‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.co.uk/

THINGPROTEST AND ACTIVISM WITH(OUT) ORGANISATION

SPECIAL ISSUE CALL FOR PAPERS

The Journal for International Sociology and Social Policy

Guest Editors:

Richard J White – Sheffield Hallam University, UK

Patricia Wood – York University, Canada

The economic, political, social, cultural and environmental crises of our time continue to provoke and inspire a remarkable range of social movements into existence. These multiple forms of protest and activism express and embody a politics of hope – captured both in alternative narratives that envisage new post-crisis possibilities, and through the physicality of collective and popular resistance. In this context, the Special Issue of The International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy is particularly intend on interrogating the socio-spatial forms of ‘organisation’ that underpin protest and activism. When taking a closer look at the organisational nature across these activist landscapes for example, it becomes apparent that resistance led through membership-based, co-ordinated hierarchical organisations (e.g. Trade Unions, NGOs) still retains an important visibility and influence in agitating for change. However, in addition perhaps, and in some meaningful way beyond, these more traditional forms of organised resistance, there exists important diverse and spontaneous forms of everyday activism, one, perhaps, consistent with a more horizontal and anarchistic praxis of self-organisation.

Questioning the relationship between activism with – and without – organisation throws up some interesting and important inter-disciplinary questions. At the most fundamental level it gives us cause to interrogate the very idea of activism: where does activism begin and end? Who gets to be an activist? Seeking to engage a more nuanced understanding of the differences between organized and unorganized forms of activism, provokes the question of how informal experiences of activism, encourage engagement with more organised forms of activism (and vice versa). Is the relationship between the two antagonistic, competitive or complementary to each other? How are organisational forms of activism dictated to by specific social and spatial temporalities, particularly at a time of crisis? Indeed in these (post)modern times is it meaningful to frame the organisation of activism within a binary relationship (either formal or informal)? Rather should we be encouraged to consider them on an organisational spectrum of difference (more formal, less formal and so on)? If desirable, how can a more informed complex understanding of the organisational natures of activism allow us to better recognise, value, strengthen and link up different types of patterns of activism and resistance?

To these ends we welcome papers of up to 8000 words addressing empirical or theoretical aspects focused on organisation of activism and protest, past and present, situated in any part of the world and at any scale.

Timeline

Please send 250-300 word abstracts directly to the Guest Editors, Richard White (richard.white@shu.ac.uk)  and Tricia Wood (pwood@yorku.ca ) by 15 August 2015.

We aim to let authors know as to whether their papers have been accepted for inclusion in the Special Issue within two weeks of this deadline.

Completed papers – between 5,000 to 8,000 words – must be submitted on-line to the IJSSP journal by 01 December 2015.

More information about The Journal for International Sociology and Social Policy can be found here: http://www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/products/journals/journals.htm?id=ijssp .

***END***

‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.co.uk/

Test Dept

Test Dept

FUEL TO FIGHT DS30: TEST FILM & BOOK EVENT

June 13 @ 6PM, firstsite, Colchester: http://www.firstsite.uk.net/page/fuel-to-fight-ds30-test-dept-film-book-event
Followed by party at the Waiting Room
The legendary London industrial noise musicians Test Dept are presenting a special screening of their film DS30 at the firstsite on the 13 June.

Marking 30 years since the 1984-5 miners’ strike, DS30 is a political collage of sound and image. The film is set within the monumental structural lines of Dunston Staiths built on the River Tyne in 1893 to ship coal from the Durham coalfields to the world. Featuring footage of mining communities and industry along the River Tyne and of the wider mining community together with footage and sounds from Test Dept’s own archive related to the strike, DS30 reflects on the group’s nationwide Fuel to Fight Tour in support of the miners, during which they collaborated with local activists and mining communities. These included Kent miner Alan Sutcliffe, who performed as writer and guest vocalist on live and recorded material and the South Wales Striking Miners’ Choir, with whom they recorded the album ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’ to raise money for the Miners’ Hardship Fund.

This screening of DS30 is accompanied by a selection of archive material of the group on film and video and will be followed by a Q & A with founding member Paul Jamrozy, who will be joined by Peter Webb (from PC Press), and Stevphen Shukaitis (from the University of Essex).

This event also celebrates the release of the book Total State Machine, a major historical document and visual representation of Test Dept, published by PC-Press. There will be a launch event following the screening.

Test Dept formed in the decaying docklands of South London in late 1981. The group made raw, visceral music out of re-purposed scrap metal and machinery scavenged from industrial waste-ground and derelict factories; a percussive sound with a political edge performed live against monumental slide and film projections in recently abandoned industrial spaces. Drilling, pounding, grinding, metal bashing – a Constructivist/Futurist-inspired soundtrack to the death throes of industrial Britain.

SCHEDULE
6:00 PM Doors Open
6:15-7:15: Film screening
7:15-8:00 Discussion with Test Department
8:00-11:00 Move to Waiting Room for drinks, DJs

Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/695456000563749/

Stevphen Shukaitis

Autonomedia Editorial Collective

http://www.autonomedia.org

http://www.minorcompositions.info

images (2)

***END***

‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.co.uk/

Dialectics

Dialectics

DEBATING THE GLOBAL WORKING CLASS

Conference of Socialist Economists

CSE South, Capital & Class

Co-hosted by the Global Economy and Business research Unit, Business School, University of Hertfordshire

 

Seminar: Debating the Global Working Class

Friday 17th October

University of Hertfordshire,

de Havilland site, Room N003

14.00-17.30

 

Marcel van der Linden (University of Amsterdam)

‘The Global Working Class: Decline or Revival’.

Jenny Chan (University of Oxford)

‘Dying for an iPhone: Apple, Foxconn, and China’s New Working Class’

Everybody is welcome to attend the seminar at 14.00. If you would like to join us for lunch beforehand at 13.00 you are welcome, but please register with Jane Hardy (j.a.hardy@herts.ac.uk). Please see websites for details of travel and location http://www.herts.ac.uk/contact-us/where-to-find-us/de-havilland-maps-and-directions

 

About the speakers:

Marcel Marius van der Linden

The Global Working Class: Decline or Revival

Abstract

The number of wage-earners worldwide has grown significantly in the last three centuries, and its regional distribution has constantly shifted. The class awareness and collective action accompanying the development of this world working class has and is taking on many different forms in the course of time. The presentation will discuss the new challenges that have arisen. It is argued that the building of a new kind of trade unionism will be a difficult process, interspersed with failed experiments and moments of deep crisis. Pressure from below (through competitive networks, alternative action models, etc.) will be a highly important factor in deciding the outcome of this process.

Biographical note

Marcel is director of research at the International Institute for Social History and holds a professorship dedicated to the history social movements at the University of Amsterdam. Marcel is most recognized in his field for his approach of a “global labour history”, which he has developed since the 1990s. Global labour history is seen by many scholars of labour studies as a new paradigm that wants to overcome both traditional labour history and the “new labour history” developed in the 1960s by scholars like Eric Hobsbawm and E.P. Thompson.

Jenny Chan

Dying for an iPhone? Apple, Foxconn, and China’s New Working Class

Abstract

Drawing on extensive fieldwork at China’s leading exporter, the Taiwanese-owned Foxconn Technology Group, the power dynamics of the buyer-driven supply chain are analysed in the context of the national terrains that accentuate global pressures. If suicide is understood as one extreme form of labour protest chosen by some to expose injustice, many more workers are choosing other courses. In globally connected production, Chinese workers are engaging in a crescendo of individual and collective struggles to define their rights and defend their dignity in the face of combined corporate and state power.

Biographical note

Jenny is Departmental Lecturer in Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Oxford. Her recent articles have appeared in Current Sociology, Modern China, Global Labour Journal, The Asia-Pacific Journal, The South Atlantic Quarterly, New Labor Forum, Labor Notes, New Internationalist, New Technology, and Work and Employment. She is writing her first book provisionally entitled Dying for an iPhone: Apple, Foxconn, and a New Generation of Chinese Workers (co-authored with PUN Ngai and Mark SELDEN).

 

About the CSE South Group:

The Conference of Socialist Economists (CSE) http://www.cseweb.org.uk/ is an international, democratic membership organisation committed to developing a materialist critique of capitalism, unconstrained by conventional academic divisions between subjects. CSE has organised and supported conferences and seminars and publishes the Sage journal Capital & Class http://cnc.sagepub.com/ three times a year.

The CSE South Group is a network of researchers and activists founded by Capital & Class Editorial Board member Phoebe Moore and CSE participants Martin Upchurch and Chris Hesketh. Members hold workshops where people present work and hold discussions on topics that concern the CSE and our journal.

 

About the Global Economy and Research Unit, Hertfordshire Business School, University of Hertfordshire

The Global Economy and Business Research Unit (GEBRU) focuses on issues that face economies, businesses and communities in the context of globalisation. The group undertakes both empirical and policy work, as well as engaging in the theoretical and methodological debates that underpin them. Members of the group are actively engaged with a range of stakeholders which include businesses, trade unions and NGOs. The approach of the group is interdisciplinary drawing on economics, political economy, geography and international business.

The unit’s research themes include the restructuring emerging markets in economies such as Poland, Serbia, Ukraine, Zambia and Bangladesh. GEBRU also focuses on migration and labour market mobility, and in particular the dynamics of European East-West migration and the intervention of stakeholders such as states and trade unions. A number of projects are ongoing in relation to foreign direct investment and outsourcing business services. Projects include new divisions of labour within Europe and the role of China in global value chains. The Editorship of the journal Competition and Change lies within GEBRU.

 

First published in http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/cse-south-capital-class-seminar-17-10-debating-the-global-working-class

 

**END**

‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ ResearchGate: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski?ev=hdr_xprf

Online Publications at The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk/?page=pub&sub=Online%20Publications%20Glenn%20Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

Education Crisis

Education Crisis

STUDENT UNIONS AND THE CHANGING NATURE OF STUDENT LEADERSHIP IN THE UK

Society for Research into Higher Education

Date – 2 June 2014: 13.00-17.00

Venue – SRHE, 73 Collier St, London N1 9BE

Network – Student Experience

This event explores the role of student leadership in UK Higher Education, including the role and function of institutional student unions, the National Union of Students and relationships with institutions, sector agencies and the government. Within institutions, the positioning and governance for student union officers, student union staff and senior management varies. The event draws together recent research, analysis of policies and commentaries from representatives and experts.
Speakers include:

Professor Rachel Brooks, University of Surrey: presenting on her work for the NUS and the Leadership Foundation for HE on the changing nature of student leadership.

Jim Dickinson, Chief Executive at Union of UEA Students, responding to the report

Dr Camille Kandiko Howson, King’s College London: presenting on her QAA-funded research on Student Expectations with reference to collective and individual notions of student engagement and representation.

The programme will include a roundtable of discussants of the presentations.

To reserve a place: http://www.srhe.ac.uk/events/

Note: Unless otherwise stated SRHE events are free to members, there is a charge of £60 for non-members.

 

**END**

‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/glenn.rikowski

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskpoint.blogspot.com

Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/glenn.rikowski

Online Publications at: http://www.flowideas.co.uk/?page=pub&sub=Online%20Publications%20Glenn%20Rikowski

Marx Memorial Library

Marx Memorial Library

MARX MEMORIAL LIBRARY: POLITICAL ECONOMY FOR TRADE UNIONISTS

There is a series of four classes entitled Political Economy for Trade Unionists taking place in April and May as follows:

 

Tuesday 29 April – Today’s Capitalist Crisis: Banks, Profits, Wages and Austerity

Tutor:  Jonathan White

 

Tuesday 6 May – The Assault on the Workplace: Rights, Conditions and Pay

Tutor: John McGee

 

Tuesday 13 May – The Law and Industrial Relations

Tutor: John Hendy QC

 

Tuesday 20 May – The Assault on Democratic Rights: The threat to labour’s collective voice

Tutor:  Professor Marj Mayo

 

All classes begin at 6.30 in the Lecture Hall at the Library.  The Registration fee for four classes is £12.

 

Dr Laura Miller

Administrator

Marx Memorial Library

37a Clerkenwell Green

London EC1R 0DU

(Tel)  0207 253 1485

(Web site) http://www.marx-memorial-library.org

 

**END**

‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

 Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academic.edu/GlennRikowski

Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/glenn.rikowski

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskpoint.blogspot.com

Turkish BookTHE ENEMY WITHIN: THE SECRET WAR AGAINST THE MINERS

30th ANNIVERSARY EDITION!

By Seumas Milne

“The definitive account of the strike—the best book on the Thatcher era.” – Naomi Klein

“A terrifying, frightening indictment of the British establishment.” – Owen Jones

See: http://www.versobooks.com/books/1655-the-enemy-within

————–

Margaret Thatcher branded the leaders of the 1984–85 miners’ strike “the enemy within.”

In this classic account, Seumas Milne reveals the astonishing lengths to which her government and its intelligence machine were prepared to go to destroy the power of Britain’s miners union. In this 30th anniversary edition new material brings the story up to date with further revelations about the secret war against organized labour and political dissent, and the devastating price paid for the Thatcher administrations onslaught by communities across Britain.

Read more:

The Enemy Within: The 30th anniversary of the Miners’ Strike in the Guardian

http://www.versobooks.com/blogs/1540-the-enemy-within-the-30th-anniversary-of-the-miners-strike-in-the-guardian

————–

Seumas Milne is a columnist and Associate Editor on the Guardian and the paper’s former Comment Editor. He was previously the Guardian’s Labour Editor and a staff journalist on the Economist. He is the author of The Enemy Within and co-author of Beyond the Casino Economy.

————–

“The most important exposé of contemporary political Britain I have read.” – John Pilger

“Riveting. It knocks spots off the usual ‘whodunnit.’” – Guardian

“An astonishing book.” – The Nation

“A tribute to detailed journalistic investigation … strips away the myths and lies.” – New Statesman

“One of the most remarkable demolition jobs ever.” – Spectator

————–

Paperback / 472 pages / ISBN: 9781781683422 / MARCH 2014 / £12.99

ALSO AVAILABLE AS AN E-BOOK

————–

To learn more about THE ENEMY WITHIN and to purchase a copy please visit
http://www.versobooks.com/books/1655-the-enemy-within

————–

Visit Verso’s website for information on our upcoming events, new reviews and publications and special offers: http://www.versobooks.com

 

**END**

‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski at Academia: http://independent.academic.edu/GlennRikowski

Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/glenn.rikowski

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskpoint.blogspot.com

Online Publications at: http://www.flowideas.co.uk/?page=pub&sub=Online%20Publications%20Glenn%20Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

Education Crisis

Education Crisis

DEFEND PUBLIC EDUCATION: UCU CONFERENCE

The ‘Defend Public Education: from cradle to grave’ conference organised by UCU and supported by NUT, NASUWT and NUS is on Saturday 1st February.

This conference will bring together key speakers, practitioners and participants from across the education sector to discuss current policies, along with what members can do to defend the principle of education from cradle to grave in the age of austerity.

Our speakers include Bonnie Greer and Huw Lewis, Minister of Education and Skills in the Welsh Assembly government. The conference will also feature speakers from UCU, NUT, Compass, UnionLearn and the Action for ESOL Campaign. Further details of the agenda along with speakers and workshops is available here.

The conference is free and will be held at the Ambassadors Hotel, Upper Woburn Place, London, WC1H OHX between 10 and 4. Refreshments and a light lunch will be available, but we will be unable to reimburse travel and accommodation expenses for UCU members on this occasion.

We expect this conference to be extremely popular and would urge members to register early to avoid disappointment. The deadline for registration is the 24 January and you can book your place here.

I look forward to receiving your registration form and hope that you will be able to join us on the 1st February.

Best wishes
Martin Whelton
UCU Campaigns & Organising Officer

 

**END**

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkP_Mi5ideo  

‘Cheerful Sin’ – a song by Victor Rikowski: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIbX5aKUjO8

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

The New Left Book Club: https://rikowski.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/the-new-left-book-club-call-for-papers/

Knowledge

Knowledge

THE DYNAMICS OF VIRTUAL WORK: THE TRANSFORMATION OF LABOUR IN A DIGITAL GLOBAL ECONOMY

Sponsored by COST (European Co-operation in Science and Technology), Work Organisation Labour and Globalisation, Competition and Change and Triple C

To be held at the University of Hertfordshire, UK, September 3-5, 2014

Globalisation and technological change have transformed where people work, when and how. Digitisation of information has altered labour processes out of all recognition whilst telecommunications have enabled jobs to be relocated globally. But ICTs have also enabled the creation of entirely new types of ‘digital’ or ‘virtual’ labour, both paid and unpaid,  shifting the borderline between ‘play’ and ‘work’ and creating new types of unpaid labour connected with the consumption and co-creation of goods and services.  The implications of this are far-reaching, both for policy and for scholarship. The dynamics of these changes cannot be captured adequately within the framework of any single academic discipline. On the contrary, they can only be understood in the light of a combination of insights from fields including political economy, the sociology of work, organisational theory, economic geography, development studies, industrial relations, comparative social policy, communications studies, technology policy and gender studies

COST Action IS1202 brings together an international network of leading experts from 29 European Countries with researchers from other parts of the world to develop a multi-faceted approach to understanding these phenomena. This international conference will open up an interactive dialogue between scholars both inside and outside the network.

Papers drawing on theoretical, methodological or empirical research are welcomed on the following topics:

The new international division of labour
Restructuring of value chains – theoretical perspectives
Relocation or Global sourcing? New patterns of spatial mobility
Does ‘place’ still matter, and why?
Interactions between the gender division of labour and the spatial division of labour.
Changes in skills and occupational identities in the digital economy
The creation of new occupational identities and the disintegration of old ones
Reskilling or deskilling? New forms of Taylorisation or new opportunities for creativity?
Changing patterns of working time, work-life balance and gender division of labour
New forms of organisation inside and outside the workplace
Value creation in the Internet Age
The monetisation of the Internet – theoretical and methodological challenges
Commodification and value creation in online activities
‘Prosumption’, ‘co-creation’ and ‘playbour’: conceptualising the shifts between labour, consumption and leisure activities
Virtual work and immaterial production (including crowdsourcing, goldfarming and other forms of online work)
Policy implications of virtual work
Implications of virtual work for employment in creative industries
User-generated content – threat or opportunity for employment?
Implications of virtual work for work-life balance and equality
Regulation of work and industrial relations in virtual work environments (the global context)
Implications of virtual work for work-life balance and equality
Effects of virtual work on occupational profiles, skills and HR practices

The conference will be organised in four streams, with plenary sessions on each day.

All submissions will be subject to peer review.
Deadline for submission of extended abstracts: January 31st, 2014
Confirmation of acceptance: April 30th, 2014
Some scholarships may be available for attendees from Developing Countries.

The Dynamics of Virtual Work: http://dynamicsofvirtualwork.com/

The Conference website and Call for Papers: http://dynamicsofvirtualwork.com/call-for-papers/

 

First published in http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/virtual-work-conference-registrati200bon-now-open

**END**

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkP_Mi5ideo   

‘Cheerful Sin’ – a song by Victor Rikowski: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIbX5aKUjO8

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.com

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/glenn.rikowski

Online Publications at: http://www.flowideas.co.uk/?page=pub&sub=Online%20Publications%20Glenn%20Rikowski

Education Crisis

Education Crisis

CENTRE FOR THE STUDY OF EDUCATION AND WORK: UPDATE 26th OCTOBER 2013

EVENTS

FILMS FROM THE CANADIAN LABOUR INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2013
November 29
7 pm
PSAC Headquarters
233 Gilmour Street
Ottawa, ON

The Workers’ History Museum is proud to host Ottawa’s first-ever Canadian Labour International Film Festival. CLIFF gives a stage to those who seek justice on the job and dignity in their workplaces, so it is a perfect fit for our museum. This successful festival, now in its fifth year, has brought independent films about working people to cities throughout Canada. On November 29th, we’re bringing them to Ottawa.

Please join us for five films — and five perspectives — that you won’t see anywhere else. Information about the films can be found at: http://workershistorymuseum.ca/cliff2013/

Admission is $5.00. For more information or for advance tickets, please contact: treasurer@workershistorymuseum.ca

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PEOPLE UNITED – CREATING A NEW SPACE FOR COMMUNITY DIALOGUE

November 28
6 p.m.
Beit Zatoun
612 Markham St., Toronto (2 blocks west of Bathurst St., south side of Bloor St. W.)

Join other activists, advocates, and organizers:
–  Weaving connections between community groups, city-wide organizations, social justice networks, and progressive movements
–  Sharing stories from our struggles
–  Finding common ground on issues, goals, values
–  Developing the groundwork for a solidarity strategy and creating the conditions for an active solidarity alliance

Sponsored by the Toronto Community Development Institute (TCDI)
For more information about the TCDI, visit: http://www.torontocdi.ca/

We invite you to join us or work with us on our projects. For more information about how you can be a part of TCDI, email: organizing.tcdi@gmail.com or call (416) 231-5499.

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TORONTO BOOK LAUNCH: TAX IS NOT A FOUR LETTER WORD

Tuesday, November 5, 2013
6:00pm to 8:00pm
Sears Atrium, George Vari Engineering Building
245 Church Street, 3rd Floor
Toronto, ON

Join the CCPA (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) Ontario for a special book launch: Tax is Not a Four-Letter Word.

It’s time to start talking about the value of taxes in Canada. Join us for the launch of Canada’s newest book on the subject: Tax is Not a Four Letter Word.

Featuring the book’s co-editors:
– Alex Himelfarb, Glendon College Director and former Clerk of the Privy Council
– Jordan Himelfarb, Toronto Star Opinion Editor
and three of the book’s CCPA contributors:
– Jim Stanford, Ontario Advisory Board Chair
– Hugh Mackenzie, Research Associate
– Trish Hennessy, Ontario Director

We hope you can join us! Space is limited so sign up here: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/8368792283

– See more at: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/offices/ontario/events/toronto-book-launch-tax-not-four-letter-word#sthash.HJZc3oSc.dpuf

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GETTING IN & STAYING IN: LABOUR MARKET CHALLENGES FACING YOUTH

Mon. Nov. 4
9:00am- 4:00pm
Toronto

Youth are experiencing unprecedented barriers to entering the workforce and are resorting to creative, and sometimes unpaid, outlets to gain meaningful experiences, network and secure stable employment.

Co-hosted by Social Planning Toronto (SPT), Toronto Workforce Innovation Group and McMaster University’s School of Labour Studies, this full day event will explore overall trends in youth unemployment in Canada and Ontario, including public policy options.

To register: Contact Mary Micallef, mmicallef@socialplanningtoronto.org, or 416-351-0095 ext. 251

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SEMINAR – COMMUNITY ORGANIZING

Saturday, November 23, 2013
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
252 Bloor Street West
Toronto, Ontario

Sponsored by Tools for Change

This workshop will outline the theory of community organizing and the steps and strategies involved in actively participating in an organization engaged in community organizing.

Exact campus room location given to registrants a week before the event.

Trainer: Effie Vlachoyannacos is the Managing Director of Public Interest, a social enterprise in Toronto working with communities to fuel social change and build the capacity of non-profit organizations and labour groups to do the same. With Public Interest, Effie has worked on diverse community engagement initiatives and campaigns across Toronto’s inner suburbs, with a particular focus on affordable and social housing advocacy.

For more info and to register: http://www.eventbrite.ca/org/1382386439?s=17819903

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NEWS & VIEWS

VIDEO – LET’S TALK ABOUT UNIONS: NORA LORETO’S BOOK LAUNCH AND Q&A

Nora Loreto has released a new book From Demonized to Organized: Building the New Union Movement with support from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives that serves as a call to incite union activists and supporter, debunk anti-union rhetoric and start the conversation around building a strong, community-focus union movement in Canada.

Watch the video: http://rabble.ca/rabbletv/program-guide/2013/10/best-net/lets-talk-about-unions-nora-loretos-book-launch-and-qa

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BRIARPATCH MAGAZINE – SNEAK PEEK AT OUR LABOUR ISSUE: THE POLITICS OF PRECARITY

In the last two decades precarious employment has doubled. The National Urban Worker Strategy, introduced on Monday in the House of Commons by MP Andrew Cash, “proposes a sweeping suite of overdue federal policies that respond to the plight of temps, freelancers, interns, part-timers and other flexworkers who flit from gig to gig, shift to shift, contract to contract, with no guarantee of income or future work, let alone access to benefits or pensions.” What promise does it hold for precarious workers? In this issue, award-winning writers Nicole Cohen and Grieg de Peuter take a critical look at the Urban Worker Strategy and the politics of precarity.

Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/1ae4EBI

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LET’S GET THIS CLASS WAR STARTED

By Chris Hedges, Common Dreams

“The rich are different from us,” F. Scott Fitzgerald is said to have remarked to Ernest Hemingway, to which Hemingway allegedly replied, “Yes, they have more money.”

The exchange, although it never actually took place, sums up a wisdom Fitzgerald had that eluded Hemingway. The rich are different. The cocoon of wealth and privilege permits the rich to turn those around them into compliant workers, hangers-on, servants, flatterers and sycophants.

Read more: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/10/21

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HOW DOMESTIC WORKERS WON THEIR RIGHTS: FIVE BIG LESSONS

By Amy Dean, Alternet

Domestic workers have had some breakthrough wins over the past two weeks. Up until then, these workers were excluded from protections such as a guaranteed minimum wage, paid breaks, and overtime pay. On September 17, the Obama administration  announced new rules extending the Fair Labor Standards Act to include the 800,000 to 2 million home health workers—who help seniors and others with self-care tasks like taking medications, bathing, and shopping—under the federal government’s wage and hour protections.

Read more: http://www.alternet.org/activism/how-domestic-workers-won-their-rights-five-big-lessons

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VIDEO – TRADE UNION AND ‘PROGRESSIVE’ STRATEGIES: THE RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT, CAPITAL STEWARDSHIP, AND ‘PENSION FUND ACTIVISM’ MOVEMENTS

It is noteworthy that as finance has been on the ‘rise,’ some activists began to formalize anti-corporate and targeted activist campaign strategies through pension and personal investment funds. In Canada and the U.S., several faith organizations began to argue that anti-social corporate behaviour should be, in some sense, sanctioned by individual investors and ultimate owners, on the basis of social principle or humanitarian values.

These initiatives then crystallized and drew broader support with the rise of the sanctions and divestment movement directed against corporate and government support for apartheid South Africa in the 1980s.

Such initiatives have seen their labels evolving from “ethical investment,” to “socially responsible investment” (SRI), to the most recent simplified term of “responsible investment.” While many trade unions, NGOs, and activists have embraced these efforts, others have not, and a substantial differentiation on the political left has emerged. Most recently, Queen’s political economist Susanne Soederberg has produced a sharply critical analysis of these investor-activist efforts from a Marxist political economy framework. This critique follows previous analyses by CAW economists Sam Gindin and Jim Stanford, both of whom have raised serious questions about these strategies as projections of trade union or working class power. Other unions and labour organizations have embraced these strategies with enthusiasm, as is notable in the establishment of a “Committee on Workers Capital” at the international level.

Moderated by Greg Albo. Convenor: Kevin Skerrett. Presentations by:
– Susanne Soederberg (Queen’s University) – Corporate Power and Ownership in Contemporary Capitalism.
– Jim Stanford (UNIFOR) – Paper Boom.

Sponsors: Centre for Social Justice, Global Labour Research Centre (York University), Canada Research Chair in Political Economy (York University) and Socialist Project.

Watch the video: http://www.socialistproject.ca/leftstreamed/ls189.php

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ABOUT CSEW (CENTRE FOR THE STUDY OF EDUCATION & WORK, OISE/UT):

Head: Peter Sawchuk
Co-ordinator: D’Arcy Martin

The Centre for the Study of Education and Work (CSEW) brings together educators from university, union, and community settings to understand and enrich the often-undervalued informal and formal learning of working people. We develop research and teaching programs at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (UofT) that strengthen feminist, anti-racist, labour movement, and working-class perspectives on learning and work.

Our major project is APCOL: Anti-Poverty Community Organizing and Learning. This five-year project (2009-2013), funded by SSHRC-CURA, brings academics and activists together in a collaborative effort to evaluate how organizations approach issues and campaigns and use popular education. For more information about this project, visit http://www.apcol.ca

For more information about CSEW, visit: http://www.csew.ca

 

**END**

 

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkP_Mi5ideo

‘Cheerful Sin’ – a song by Victor Rikowski: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIbX5aKUjO8

 

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.com

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/glenn.rikowski

Online Publications at: http://www.flowideas.co.uk/?page=pub&sub=Online%20Publications%20Glenn%20Rikowski

IWGB

IWGB

LONDON LIVING WAGE VICTORY AT CORPORATION OF CITY OF LONDON

The Independent Workers Union (IWGB) has secured a major victory at the Corporation of City of London winning the London Living Wage for all cleaners. The IWGB has waged a campaign for over two years with strike action by cleaners at Guildhall and the Barbican Centre.

This a real victory for the solidarity of low paid migrant workers.

See: http://www.demotix.com/news/1893200/cleaners-strike-barbican-calls-increase-wages

City of London Corporation introduces London Living Wage for cleaners and caterers

The City of London Corporation has today (25 September) agreed to supplement ten existing corporate cleaning and catering services contracts to bring them in line with the London Living Wage (LLW). The changes to the five revised cleaning contracts will come into effect immediately after elected members decided to adopt the LLW ahead of the scheduled renewal date in August 2014. The extra annual cost of implementing the LLW across them is in the order of £812,000. The three companies operating the cleaning contracts are Sodexo, MITIE and ISS – covering sites including the Barbican, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, City of London Police, Guildhall and schools.

Separately, five catering contracts will be revised in line with the LLW and backdated to 1 September 2013 – the date they originally commenced. This will come at an additional cost of £117,700 per annum. The suppliers of these contracts are Sodexo, ISS, Aramark, Holroydhowe and Brookwood – covering sites including the Central Criminal Court, Guildhall, City of London Police and schools.

Mark Boleat, Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation, said:
“As a Best Value Authority, we are continuously striving to improve the way we procure goods or services. The City of London Corporation is committed to paying the LLW to staff and promoting it for contractors while delivering quality services across the Square Mile. We recognise that social value – as well as finance – should be a consideration when it comes to such arrangements and supplementing both these cleaning and catering contracts is a positive step forward.”

The City of London Corporation pays all staff in line with LLW, while taking account – like other organisations adopting the LLW – of the legal, financial and operational circumstances that apply when
considering contracts on a case-by-case basis. The LLW hourly rate currently stands at £8.55, compared to the current minimum wage of £6.19.

For more details visit http://www.livingwage.org.uk/

 

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

IWGB

IWGB

THE CASE FOR THE INDEPENDENT WORKERS UNION 

OUR RIGHT TO ORGANISE

The Independent Workers Union (IWGB), in our activities organising mostly migrant cleaning workers, has gained wide recognition and respect.  Professor of industrial relations Gregor Gall, recently wrote that:

“The IWGB is attempting to show in practice parts of the rest of the union movement that not only can what are commonly described as ‘difficult to organise’ be unionised but that they can be unionised in such a way where they play a greater than usual role in their own organising. But, of course, this takes guts and determination as well as a long-term orientation to do so.” (Frontline, an independent Marxist journal from Scotland, June 2013).

Gregor recognises it is true some union branches have organised cleaners:  “But what the IWGB shows is that so much can be done with so little in terms of resources. If the same method of using their greater resources was applied to their work in the sector by the established unions then, presumably, so much more could be achieved.”   

Our activity has raised important questions regarding present day trade unionism and how we organise in the workplace.  Including the very need for the IWGB at all, we welcome a serious debate on these issues.  The case against us was argued recently in Socialist Review by Sandy Nicoll – “Are ‘Pop-Up’ unions the way forward?”.  The IWGB recently debated these issues at a seminar hosted by the Independent Workers Union (Ireland) in Belfast.  It was a fraternal and mature discussion – a lesson for some of the ‘comrades’ in England on how to conduct themselves.   For it is clear that rather than engage in a discussion on these matters some people would rather engage in abuse, spread untruths and blacken the name of the IWGB.   We have sought to abstain from responding to abuse disguised as criticism and instead concentrate our efforts on the fight with the employers, to develop a culture of comradeship and spirit of solidarity. 

However the recent article by Max Watson ‘IWGB: Two small unions?’, and the stance taken by some associated with him cannot go unanswered.  It is not that Watson has articulated a view on important questions better than others or that he is a very important person due to his post on the UNISON NEC.  We are responding because Watson has openly belittled and maligned the struggle and achievements of cleaners themselves – directing his venom at the John Lewis cleaners and the locked-out NTT cleaners.  To read this from someone who describes themselves as a “Socialist & trade union activist” is beyond disappointing. 

Fabrications that seek to divide us

Before addressing the issues within and surrounding Watson’s article let us make clear in summary that contrary to his fabrications:

·         It is a lie that IWGB has a strategy “focused on recruiting members of other unions” or of “poaching”,

·         It is a lie that IWGB accused Max Watson and the London Metropolitan University Branch of UNISON of racism,

·         It is a lie that IWGB “attacked” Max Watson at the same time he was under attack by his employer, the government and officialdom,

Indeed until recently the IWGB has never issued a single word of criticism or correction of Max Watson’s statements even though we would certainly be within our rights to take action in pursuant of the Defamation Act 1996.   

It is the case that much of Watson’s tirades against IWGB arises from the fact a cleaner sent a private text message to another cleaner which included criticism of him.  In addition to his at times irrational and arrogant demands for an apology from this migrant worker, there is a more disturbing agenda at work.  Watson and friends are seeking to discredit the IWGB and to drive a wedge between us and other members of the Labour Movement, especially those unions who cooperate with the IWGB.   The decision of the UNISON United Left influenced by Watson not to support the 3 Cosas campaign for equal sick pay, holiday’s and pensions for University of London cleaners, who are poised to ballot for strike action, is testimony of the divisiveness of such methods.

Buried within Watson’s article which is peppered with personal abuse, is the more significant question of forming news unions – that is does the IWGB have a right to exist at all.  We are provided with an opportunity to address this before presenting the truth about the slanders against us.  

New unionism – renegades or renewal

The IWGB is criticised by Watson for not being affiliated to the TUC, that our “view is basically: UNISON is a Labour-affiliated, sell-out union full of right wing officials so there is no way we should join them.”  Facts show otherwise, for example Alberto Durango IWGB Organiser was until his victimisation also a UNISON Shop-Steward in the NHS.  We continue to have members who are also active in other unions including UNITE, UCU, PCS, RMT and UNISON to name but a few.

Watson is disingenuous in his modesty declaring “All of this stuff may be important to those thinking about the wider issues of red unionism or whatever. I’m no historian, and I’m not a dialectical materialist who likes to hypothesize with my pen all night and day.” This is after writing over 3000 words attacking the IWGB and posting on the internet he holds a Master of Research, Labour & Trade Union Studies supervised by the historian Mary Davies, and a BA: Politics and Modern History. Watson has publically attacked the IWGB for “Red Unionism”.  

History is indeed relevant though not his warped view of the old Red International of Labour Unions.  Watson’s problem is not lack of knowledge but his dogmatic view of historical development.  For Watson the current organisational form of the trade unions is fixed rigid, it should not be altered as to attempt to do otherwise would result in a creating a “sectarian personality cult”. But history shows otherwise.

Life does not stand still, and the development of our movement did not begin or end with the forming of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in 1867 or the General Federation of Trade unions (GFTU) in 1899. Our own time has some similarity to conditions which gave rise to the ‘new unionism’ before the upsurge of the years 1888-1914.  The “old unions” were elitist, there was bigotry towards migrant workers, unskilled workers and woman were neglected. Millions were unorganised.  The workers desire for change gave birth to new unions – the General Railway Workers’ Union (now the  RMT), Matchmakers’ Union, the Amalgamated Society of Gasworkers, Brickmakers and General Labourers,  National Federation of Labour, the Dockers Union, the National Sailors’,  Firemen’s Union, and the Industrial Workers of Great Britain to name but a few.

The view of the old unions’ leaders was the same as that of Watson and his co-thinkers – hostility.  TUC leader Henry Broadhurst denounced the new unionism as causing “disruption” and to “hound these creatures from our midst.”   The organising of the new unions was assisted by militants of the then radical socialist organisations, despite their own sectarianism.  A lesson important for today.

Many who pioneered or were influenced by the new unionism played a leading role in building the rank and file shop-stewards movements from 1915-1926, taking action within and when necessary independent of the established unions.  By taking a tunnel vision view of our history many of today’s activists, some calling themselves Marxists (poor Marx!) have come to view activity within established unions as the only acceptable option – completely ignoring the whole experience of new unionism and the Great Unrest.   

The case for a new unionism is relevant now

It was certainly true in the post-war period where the trade union movement expanded to 13.5 million members by 1980 covering 55% of the entire workforce, that there was little scope or justification for creating new independent unions.  Then rank and file/shop-stewards movements played a pivotal role.   But thirty-three years later the situation in the UK is dramatically different.

The number of union members as a proportion of the total 29 million in work, has fell to 26.0% in 2011. In the private sector the number in unions fell to 14.1 in 2011, in the public sector 56.5%.  The number of overall workers covered by collective bargaining between unions and employers stands fell to 31.2% in 2011.  The new organising campaigns like Justice for Cleaners that began in the 1990’s, was meant to start organising the ocean of unorganised workplaces.  Today only the RMT has continued with a sustained campaign of organising cleaners on the railways.  Elsewhere it has been at the initiative of local branches whether cleaners and outsourced workers are organised.   Amidst the deepening crisis of capitalism key unions such as UNISON and UNITE opted for a siege mentality of holding on where they were already organised in ‘brownfield’ areas as opposed to ‘greenfield’ initiatives.

This hold onto what we’ve got mentality has not halted the membership decline even in the strongholds of union organisation.  Indeed with 61% of all union members in the public sector, as outsourcing intensified from the 1990’s many of those previously unionised workers, such as cleaners found themselves virtually abandoned as unions sought to hold onto their stronghold amongst the “core” workforce.

Today union organisation hardly exists in the hotel, restaurant, fast-food and leisure sectors. The service sector, especially retail which has three million workers is similarly poorly organised; the union presence stands at 11% of workers.  At a time when 47% of union members are in professional occupations whilst the movement is failing to expand amongst three million of the lowest paid, “vulnerable” workers of the economy then the similarity to the situation faced by new unionism in the past is obvious.

The IWGB considers that there is an urgent need to organise the 70% of workers not organised and neglected by the old guard of the labour movement.  That does not mean abandoning all existing unions, we have never argued that. But it does mean recognising that the scope for new unions such as IWGB has arisen again.  This can be seen not in the more recent struggle of cleaners in London but the North Sea oil workers.

After the Piper Alpha disaster in 1988 the workers formed the rank and file Offshore Industry Liaison Committee (OILC) frustrated with the failures of the smaller established unions.  In 1991 they established themselves as an independent union.  They were denounced by the Labour Party, the AEU, EETPU and GMB and many on the left. Today they continue as OILC- RMT Offshore Energy Branch.  

This past and recent experience shows clearly it is false to put a barrier between the established movement and new initiatives from below by workers organising themselves.  It is equally wrong to consider the emergence of independent unions as counter-posed to a rank-and-file shop stewards movement to transform the labour movement.  

Solidarity or Slanders: Watson’s Fiction Pulped

Max Watson has an obsessive disagreement with the IWGB because a cleaner criticised him in a private text message.  This condition has grown worse following the decision of the vast majority of outsourced workers and others at the University of London to join the IWGB. The IWGB did not call on anyone to leave UNISON; this decision was an exercise of the workers own right to choose how they organise.  We defend their right just as we would a member of TSSA joining RMT.  We completely reject a mentality that views “the members” as a kind of property, one which sees sovereignty in a union not with the workers themselves but with the union as an institution.    

The decision of the workers at the University of London has been ably explained and defended in articles by Jason Moyer-Lee and Daniel Cooper.   Since the IWGB branch was formed there has been an electrification of the cleaners struggle at the University, coupled by a hysterical scare-campaign by certain Full-timers, alongside efforts by university bosses to ban protests and use the Police to suppress dissent.

The IWGB branch is engaged in a struggle with the University and Balfour Beatty bosses.  Our members are now prepared for a campaign of industrial action.  The UNISON United Left which Watson is a leading member stands for “Solidarity with UNISON members and other workers in struggle.” Yet the attacks by Watson on the IWGB cleaners facing banns and arrests of their student supporters, is in contradiction with these professed principles.  We appeal for the UNISON members to continue to cooperate with their fellow workers in the spirit of solidarity.  

Instead of solidarity Watson engages in slanders.  To strengthen his disagreement over the events at University of London he has fabricated a story of what were in fact very minor events at London Metropolitan University.  This includes contemptible attacks on cleaners who have stood up to their bosses.

LET US SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT. 

The IWGB is not engaged in a strategy of “Poaching”.  In the vast majority of workplaces we have organised there are no other unions, in some places the sub-contracted cleaners were not organised by unions representing ‘in-house’ workers; an example is the Barbican where we have sought fraternal relations with other unions and the GMB has shown solidarity with our recent strike.  It is true at St George’s, University of London in Tooting we had a disagreement with UNISON.  All the cleaners joined IWGB in a successful struggle against cuts and for the London Living Wage. One person joined UNISON; the employer behind our backs signed a recognition deal with UNISON and tried without success to break our union.  This was an exception.  

The fact is the 1939 TUC Bridlington Agreement against poaching between unions has long been unfit for purpose and regularly ignored.  What is needed is a solidarity agreement, not crossing each other’s picket lines and supporting fellow workers in struggle.

The IWGB did not attack Watson when he was being victimised.  This is simply a work of fiction. Watson’s obsessive disagreements pre-date his own recent suspension by the London Metropolitan University bosses.   

The NTT Cleaners Fight was a Victory

The IWGB in its past or present form has not set out to undermine UNISON at LondonMetropolitanUniversity. How did it come about that we have cleaner members at the University?  Watson denigrates these cleaners and their achievements as having been in “collusion” with the employer, mocking, that they ‘got themselves transferred’ and were wrong to claim a victory in their fight.    

In February 2012 the cleaners at NTT Communications, employed by Dynamiq protested – in response the entire workforce was locked out by NTT and told they would be made redundant.  The unity of our members stopped the dismissals, forced Dynamiq to agree the workers would stay together in alternative jobs, be put on the London Living Wage and relocated on TUPE conditions.   In the end all the workers were transferred to the Moorgate and North Campus site of London Metropolitan University where Dynamiq had the contract.

Watson claims this was ‘behind our backs, so in effect in collusion with the employer’ – is he seriously saying workers, who had never even heard of Mr Max Watson and not in UNISON, should have asked his permission to save their own jobs? Is he saying forcing an employer who wants to sack everyone to find them jobs with a pay rise is class collaboration?   Sorry, are you mad, Max?

The Patriarch of London Met

At Moorgate site there was no UNISON presence amongst cleaners, the other cleaners were very impressed by the new workers accounts.  But there was no decision to go on a ‘permanent recruitment drive’ as claimed.   

Our union did set out to work with Watson organising cleaners at London Metropolitan.  We had no plans to organise there at all.  It is no doubt true UNISON did organise cleaners in the past, it was also the case many cleaners informed us activity had lapsed.  The cleaners already at Moorgate certainly had no engagement with UNISON.  This is not a criticism just how things were felt by cleaners. 

Watson first contacted the IWGB and spoke at a cleaners protest at Reuters in Aldgate.  He offered cooperation – he also raised working together and “no poaching” – it was never on our minds.  At a meeting of all cleaners, Alberto Durango emphasised that there was already a union organised and they should be part of it – that is UNISON!   A meeting of cleaners was held which elected reps to represent all cleaners, regardless of their union membership.  One of our cleaners’ branch activists was one of them.  She is a political refugee with a respected history of activity in Colombia.  Someone who has seen close family members languish in prison and her own life under threat. 

Why then did Watson become so upset with us?  From the start we made clear to him it is important in working together that we do so as equals and with mutual respect. Instead we and our members were treated condescendingly.  Watson became incensed because:

1.      A joint union leaflet was not produced to meet his deadline,

2.      Alberto Durango attended a meeting with the cleaning contractor, and Watson did not know in advance he was coming,

3.      Some leaflets informing people who our union was had been distributed in the UNISON office – he was there it was hardly a secret,

All because of these minor things Watson was angry, telephoning Chris Ford arrogantly damming our whole union as “unreliable” and engaged in some-kind of campaign to undermine UNISON.  It was an over the top paranoia coupled with a control freak mentality.  

Watson writes that he emailed Chris Ford IWGB Secretary ‘to try to resolve our conflict at London Met’.  This is not the case.  Watson sent long emails which bore the hallmarks of an obsession with a text in Spanish by the women activist mentioned above – to another cleaner’s rep.  She also felt Watson took advantage of her poor English.  That was entirely her prerogative.  She certainly did not make the assertions in his wild claims

Watson persisted in arrogantly demanding this cleaner issue an apology.  We had no intention of engaging in a ridiculous hounding of this worker all because she was critical of the UNISON Branch Chair.  Indeed she was a member of the UNISON Branch at the time.  Does Watson hound other members of UNISON to apologise for being critical of him?  

Watson notes we were too busy with the John Lewis cleaners strike to answer him.  Firstly all our activists are volunteers who do not get paid time off work to engage in union activities and the strike at John Lewis was more important.  Secondly contrary to his paranoid fantasies we were not engaged in an organising drive at LondonMetropolitanUniversity so it was not on our list priorities. 

Watson embellishes his fable about London Met with a slander Chris Ford played ‘no positive role’ in the London Living Wage campaign whilst a lecturer at that University.  In fact he had only just started working there and was a member of UCU not UNISON. However even though Chris was a part-time PhD student who worked a mere couple of hours per week as an Hourly Paid Lecturer he was the only HPL in his Department taking strike action and encouraging others to join UCU. He was sacked and represented by UCU who considered he was victimised, losing his job and his student position. These facts Watson is aware of but chooses to ignore.

It is bizarre indeed that Watson should cite some anarchists associated with the IWW approvingly to attack us.  During a brief period the old Latin American Workers Association and Justice for Cleaners joined the IWW.  The people Watson cites against us engaged in constant attacks on us for amongst other things they thought we wanted to become like “just another TUC union”, we were denounced for having legal strike action, and “getting into bed with Labour MPs”, meaning our friendship with John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn.  And Watson thinks we are “laughable”.

Contemptuous Attack on John Lewis Cleaners

From his high office Watson not only belittles the NTT cleaners and an insubordinate woman who criticised him – but contemptibly attacks the John Lewis cleaners struggle.   In order to justify branding their achievements as “hyper-bollocks” he simply lies about the campaign of the John Lewis cleaners.

The cleaners of John Lewis in Oxford Street are 100% migrant workers from Latin America and Africa employed by the contractor ICM.  From December 2011 until August 2012 they struggled with the employers to stop compulsory cuts of a third of the staff and cuts in their hours.  They added to their campaign the demand for the London Living Wage. 

Having kept the bosses at bay for months, without a penny in strike pay, the cleaners took two days of strike action in August 2012, the first at John Lewis since 1920.  The militant strikes were accompanied by protests and direct action.  Poised to take a third strike the employers agreed to a settlement which saw, no job cuts, no cuts in hours, reinstatement of two workers, re-organisation of excessive shift-hours and a 9% pay increase.  This was followed by the same pay rise for hundreds of cleaners in John Lewis across stores in London.    At this time there were job cuts and austerity measures across the country, including many at LondonMetropolitanUniversity. Against this background IWGB Secretary Chris Ford was right to state the cleaners “achievements are not minor – they are almost unheard of in the current period of austerity.” 

For the cleaners this was a ceasefire, the campaign has continued for the full Living Wage and is escalating towards new strike action.  Instead Watson belittles the statement as “laughable” and even worse condemning the cleaners as giving in when they should have won writing that “others had been winning the Living Wage elsewhere and to be quite honest, with an employer like John Lewis? Talk about open goal missed.”  

By any decent trade unionists standards Watson’s statement is contemptible – Max Watson writes that of the John Lewis dispute: “If that is not hyper-bollocks then my name is Jim Larkin.”  No your not – perhaps a word from the Mad Max of the big screen: “Look, any longer out on that road and I’m one of them, a terminal psychotic, except that I’ve got this bronze badge that says that I’m one of the good guys.” Indeed.

Our movement is at a crossroads, we urgently need a new unionism which meets the challenges of the 21st Century, the seeds of that new unionism are germinating in the struggles of today – the IWGB is a part of this process and we urge genuine trade unionists to support and assist the Independent Workers Union.

IWGB

IWGB

I.W.G.B

WWW.IWGB.ORG.UK

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

 

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