Globe, Migrants, Multiculture, Struggles, Trade Unions, United Kingdom, Workers

Unionizing in neoliberal times

A series of panel discussions about the experience of social and political movements that have secured governmental power will take place in February. While they have achieved several victories, many obstacles still need to be addressed.


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Marcella Via


Labour unions are organizations aiming to negotiate better conditions for the workers within the business that employs them.

However, the right to unionize has been denied to workers during the last decades, while their situation has turned out to be more and more precarious.

For example, The Guardian reported the experience of Tesla workers, who are living in a persistent “culture of fear”, after the attempt to unionize. According to the article, the firm started pushing a 31-year-old worker out of employment after finding out he was holding meetings at his house.

Moreover, there are other practices business uses to impede workers to form unions, apart from direct threats of losing the job. Indeed, working contracts often impede the possibility of unionizing or do not allow them to strike.

Further, having a short-term contract frequently leaves the worker in a limbo and, in order to have it renewed, they are more likely to be exploited by the firm.

At the same time, the progress made by social movements during the last years needs to be highlighted. Because of this, the Marx Memorial Library is organizing “The 1974 government and working class mobilisation”.

The event consists of a series of panel discussions on the global experience of movements of social and political liberation in securing governmental power over the last 50 years.

Thanks to their mobilization, these movements have been able to secure significant gains for the working class. However, political challenges have not been missing, as there is strong opposition by the elite class defending the status quo.

According to the press office, the first group of discussions will examine developments in Chile in the 1970s, in Iraq and Iran in the 1960s and ‘70s and more recently in West Bengal and Cyprus.

The second group will explore the experience of the 1974-79 Labour government in Britain. It will look at its economic programme and the obstacles encountered in implementing any form of Alternative Economic Strategy. It will also consider the question of how to sustain the level of working-class mobilization required to carry through such a strategy.

The final discussion will consider “the more basic theoretical issues, as raised in, for instance, Ralph Miliband’s Parliamentary Socialism, or James Harvey’s The British State about the nature of the state and the role of parliament in sustaining the existing order”.

“The 1974 government and working-class mobilization” will take place on Wednesday, 20 February, from 7 pm. to 8:30 pm., at the Marx Memorial Library, 37A Clerkenwell Green, EC1R 0DU, London, United Kingdom.

For further information, visit the Facebook event page.

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