Where are the Unions? is the book that resulted from the Bread and Freedom conference that Anne Alexander and I co-organised a few years ago. It has now been published by Zed books. I am enormously proud of this collection; it is genuinely interdisciplinary, combines an activist perspective with academic rigour and addresses a really important question.
Here’s the blurb:
The start of the 21st Century has been marked by global demands for economic justice. From the wave that swept through Latin America in the early 2000s, and the Arab revolutions from 2011, to the Occupy and anti-austerity movements in Europe and North America, the last 20 years have witnessed the birth of a new type of mass mobilisation.
Where are the Unions? compares, for the first time, the challenges faced by movements in Latin America, the Arab world and Europe. Workers’ strikes and protests played a critical role in these mass movements, yet their role is significantly underestimated in many narratives of these events.
This book focuses on the complex interactions between organised workers, the unemployed, self-employed, youth, students and the state, and critically assesses the concept of the ‘precariat’. With contributions from across four continents, it is the most comprehensive look at the global context of mass mobilisation in the 21st Century.
Introduction – Sian Lazar
Part I: Labour movements, society and the state
1. The Egyptian workers’ movement: problems of organisation and politics – Anne Alexander and Mostafa Bassiouny
2. From the grassroots to the presidential palace: Evo Morales and the coca growers’ union in Bolivia – Thomas Grisaffi
3. The labour union movement and ‘alternative’ culture in Tunisia: the long view of a close relationship – Mohamed-Salah Omri
Part II: Identity and precarity
4. Migrants’ struggles? Rethinking citizenship, anti-racism and labour precarity through migration politics in Italy – Irene Peano
5. The Spanish crisis: from complacency to unrest, from unrest to mobilisation – Salvador Martí i Puig and Marco Aparicio Wilhelmi
6. What are the possible strategies for the emergence of a democratic and revolutionary labour movement in Lebanon? – Walid Daou
7. ‘To struggle is also to teach’: how can teachers and teaching unions further the global fight for another world? – Mary Compton
Part III: Rank and file challenges to traditional unionism
8. ‘Ungrievable’ labour and ‘unruly’ politics: NGOS, workers’ rights, and the 2013–2014 protests in Brazil – Lucy McMahon
9. The experience of grassroots syndicalism in Greece: workplace restructuring and the role of traditional trade unions in the tertiary sector – Aris Anagnostopoulos and Angelos Evangelinidis
10. Dilemmas of trade unionism and the movement of the unemployed under neoliberal and progressive regimes in Argentina – Virginia Manzano
11. From invisible to invincible: the story of the 3 Cosas Campaign – Jason Moyer-Lee and Henry Chango Lopez
Afterword: bringing manifestos back in? – Peter Waterman