Globalization and the Labour Movement: Challenges and Responses
Keywords:globalization, informalization, Karl Polanyi, labour, migration, revitalization, global South,
Up to a decade ago many labour movement strategists and analysts would probably have thought (though not necessarily said) that they were witnessing the beginning of the end of organized labour as a major political force. ‘There is no alternative’ was not just a triumphalist slogan of the political right but a palpable feeling across the political spectrum. But by the turn of the century the mood began to shift as the labour movement regained some ground after the long night of neo-liberal onslaughts. Maybe we were now at the ‘end of the beginning’ of a new era where the workers and their organisations will begin to impact on the new global order they have helped to create through their labour? That is, anyway, the premise of this presentation. It is not, however, a simple proclamatory vision, but rather seeks to present a realistic appraisal of the challenges of globalisation and possible responses by the labour movement. The challenges are many: from informalization to international migration, from routinization of labour practices to a sustained attempt by capital to make the world’s workers pay for the collapse of the neoliberal globalization model in 2008. It is arguably time for a sober appraisal of where global labour is in terms of a fight-back or perhaps, even in terms of offering an alternative vision for humanity.
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