The Global Chain Gang

Auto, a games industry worker and SolFed member, writes about the horrific working conditions of those at the other end of his industry's supply chain; workers in the infamous factories of Foxconn. He argues that despite being halfway around the world, we're not so different after all...

Last month I wrote an article about crunch time in the games industry; the large amounts of unpaid overtime that have become a common feature of the game development cycle. However, us tech workers in the west are simply the thin end of the wedge. If you want to see true horrors of exploitation, simply spin the globe and look at to the east. To China, Taiwan and all the other new darlings of the manufacturing industry.

Financial Crisis: What Happened? What Next?

Dear DA,

Even without really understanding the current “financial 9/11”, one can pick up a sense of fear, panic and uncertainty.

Blame for the crisis is attributed to “greed and fear”…or insufficient regulation…or too high bonuses paid to financial whizz kids…or irresponsible lenders pushing cheap loans…or irresponsible individuals accepting them…and so on.

But the crisis also needs a deeper structural analysis of how financial markets have changed over the past 2-3 decades – because it is these changes that lie behind the current financial meltdown, particularly those changes associated with “new financial instruments” and “vehicles” such as derivatives and private equity.

Recessive Tendencies: a tale of boom, bust and that old devil called capitalism

As the global economy plunges deeper into crisis, people everywhere are facing home repossessions, unemployment, pay cuts and rising prices. The very same governments that for decades extolled the virtues of unfettered market forces, have committed the ultimate U-turn by promising billions of taxpayers’ money for bailing out ailing financial institutions. This, they argued, was necessary to avert a complete economic meltdown on the scale of the 1930s. But before the full horror of crisis unfolded, some speculators and hedge fund managers, who gambled on the chaos big style, have pocketed the cash and disappeared merrily off into the sunset.

Climate Change & Economic Crisis

The current economic crisis is entirely a product of capitalism itself, spawned by the inherent instability of “boom and bust”, the signature of an insane and immoral system of organising society. But even in the best of the boom times crisis has never been too far removed from the relentless exploitation of resources, both human and natural, in the mad pursuit of profit for the rich and powerful. That this system has brought us to the brink of disastrous climate change is now beyond doubt.

Day of action for sacked Peruvian garment workers

Members of Liverpool Solidarity Federation have held an informational picket outside Zara, in Liverpool One, and handed out leaflets to customers, staff, and passers-by.

Despite some attention from security guards, who informed us we couldn’t operate on private property, we were able to hand out all our leaflets and our action was generally well received. One woman even came over as we were packing away to inquire what we were up to, and offered her support when we explained what we had been doing and why.

This was part of international solidarity actions supported by the International Workers Association (IWA) for workers in Peru, in response to the sacking of 35 trade unionists. The union members were working in a factory for ‘Topy Top’, one of the major suppliers to high street store Zara, and also a supplier for Gap.

The Crisis Factory: the roots of the global ecological crisis

From Reykjavik to Rio, from Woolies to Whittards, the fall out from the economic downturn reverberates like a Mexican wave around virtually every inhabited corner of the globe. But this crisis, just as surely as it began, will eventually peter out – but not before wreaking misery and destitution upon millions. Alongside this latest recession is the environmental crisis, with far more irretrievable consequences, and a severity we are now only just waking up to.

Over 100 years ago Karl Marx foretold, how the inbuilt tendency of industrial capitalism to expand would give rise to not only continual cycles of boom and slump, but also the phenomenon we now call “globalisation”. More contemporary analysts, such as Murray Bookchin and the social ecology movement of the late 1960s and 70s, later warned of the profound ecological crisis that we now face.

Review - Live Working or Die Fighting (by Paul Mason)

Newsnight correspondent, Paul Mason’s Live Working or Die Fighting offers a unique, timely and engaging micro-historical account of the rise and fall of the revolutionary working class. Charting the conditions which gave rise to the mass syndicalist movements in Europe and the Americas during the early 20th century, contemporary parallels are drawn and interwoven with the experiences of workers in the newly industrialised “global south”.

Mason eulogises key inspirational figures from our past – figures like Louise Michel, Bill Haywood, Tom Paine – telling of bitter struggles fought with murderous bosses and implacable rulers. Latterly, he cites the post-war factors that have seen militant workers’ movements fall into seemingly irretrievable decline; welfarism and workforce stratification, to name but two.