Jun 26 2009

The Unemployment ‘Depression and Anxiety Epidemic’ in the UK

Category: News,Online PublicationBob Hanke @ 10:41 am

Why unemployment is no longer a political issue

By Brendan O’Neil (excerpted from Spiked, June 24, 2009)

This week I received an email from a group called ‘Redundancy Survival’, offering me the opportunity to buy an e-book that will help me cope if I am made redundant. The e-book is for ‘the average individual who is told their job no longer exists’ and who might be ‘in shock and suffering depression because of a lack of support’. The email quoted one worker who had been made redundant – ‘I didn’t know what to do at first and was like a rabbit in headlights’ – and encouraged the rest of us to try to avoid suffering a similar fate by coughing up some of our redundancy cash for its therapeutic e-book.

The email perfectly summed up today’s strange, muted response to the prospect of job losses and mass unemployment as a result of the recession. Unemployment in the UK rose to a 12-year high of 2.261million in April, and it is predicted to reach three million soon. The unemployment rate increased by 30 per cent in the first 12 months of the current downturn, compared with 22 per cent in the first year of recession in the 1990s and 29 per cent in the first year of the 1980s downturn (1). Yet there are no mass uprisings, no marches for jobs; instead there are atomised individuals apparently feeling like ‘rabbits in headlights’ and being offered advice on how to cope by the usual suspects of the therapy industry.

In the past, individuals thrown out of work or forced to take pay cuts might have had face-to-face meetings to organise some kind of resistance; today they receive advice on how to cope through that most individuated form of communication: the email. During earlier economic downturns, people were less interested in finding out how to ‘survive redundancy’ than in devising ways to overcome it – either by demanding their jobs back or marching for the right to work. Things have clearly changed, enormously. As Janet Street-Porter asked in typical shrieky fashion: ‘Why don’t we take to the streets over job losses?’ (2)

The truth is, unemployment is no longer a political issue. It is still a very severe problem for individuals and families, many of whom will have to find new ways to make ends meet and rein in their hopes and expectations. But it is no longer a politically galvanising issue, one that draws people together into a collective, conscious expression of anger. Having been perhaps the defining concerns of twentieth-century politics, today gainful employment, wage levels and living standards do not provoke political action or mass protest in anything like the same way. There are a number of reasons for this new, peculiar state of affairs.

To read the rest of this article, click here.


Jun 20 2009

Strike of Education in Berlin

Category: NewsBob Hanke @ 12:26 pm

Bildungstreik 2009

by Claudia Bernardi & Anna Curcio (excerpted from Edufactory)

As a wave, several hundred of Berlin students blocked the city against the German ministers meeting today. The students have occupied first the Ministry of Finance, then the City Hall and the train station in Alexander Platz. The protest and the metropolis blockade are still going on.

On Wednesday, June 17th 260,000 kids, parents, students and researchers took to the streets of more than 70 Germany cities to protest the educational system, demanding more funding, better conditions of labour, a halt to the rise of university tuition fees, and a higher  quality of knowledge in a university where now students “learn anything”. In Berlin, a huge demonstration of 30,000 people started in Alexander Platz and arrived at Humboldt University: the place and symbol of the old model of the elite university has been invaded by students and symbolically covered by toilet paper.

These demonstrations are part of a week-long series of protests called BildungsStreik (strike of education), organized by universities and schools across Germany in the last months. “Selforganization to live and learn” and “Sabotage the factory of knowledge“ are some of the demands of students mobilized against the Bologna Process. Although it has failed, other universities are trying to apply Bologna Process in different part of the world, i.e. in US or South Asia. After the demonstration in Berlin, several direct actions took place in different parts of the city. A large group of students took possession again of the Villa BELL building inside Technische Universität, that the administrative bureaucracy removed from the students’ selfmanaging last year. This liberated space is now used to organize discussions about the future of mobilizations, free education and the process of hierarchization in the university.

Since Monday, several faculties of Freie Universität and Technische Universität have been occupied by students that are organizing selfmanaged activities and debates. Some of the students that are occupying the Faculty of Political Science of Technische Universität are part of the European anomalous wave, that all year long supported and spread the slogan “we won’t pay for your crisis”.

On Tuesday, June 16th students occupied the administrative buildings of Technische Universität, the university where a huge attack on the free spaces selfmanaged by students is taking place. Today other events are coming: the symbolic “bank robbery action“ in LosAngeles Platz and a meeting, with members of Edu-Factory Collective, about the crisis of the university and the connection of global struggles in the occupied spaces of Villa BELL Building.

On Friday, June 19 all the German ministers will meet in Berlin to commemorate the anniversary of Bologna process, but surely there ‘s nothing to celebrate!

More news in English from Deutsch Welle: Click DW-World.de


Jun 09 2009

Debating the Longest Strike

Category: Post-strike Discussion (2009)Bob Hanke @ 11:36 am

York University’s get out of jail free card

Rewards and consequences of bad-faith bargaining

by Tyler Shipley (Canadian Dimension, April 23, 2009)

To read the complete article, click here.

Tough union, tough lessons

Learning from the CUPE 3903 strike defeat at York University

23, 2009)

To read the complete article, click here.


Jun 01 2009

The Casualization of Academic Labour at York

Category: Post-strike Discussion (2009),ResearchBob Hanke @ 11:11 am

The York University Faculty Association (YUFA) subcommitee has released the Casualization of Academic Labour at York University— a 10-page, 4.43 MB discussion paper prepared for the YUFA membership by the YUFA subcommittee on casualization.

This paper places CUPE 3903’s recent labour negotiations as well as YUFA’s upcoming negotiations into the broader context of budget cuts,  the reduction of tenure-stream positions, and the increasing reliance on contingent academic labour. As the recent CAUT conference on contract faculty underscored, the erosion of tenure limits full access to good academic jobs and collegiality. The casualization of academic labour is a double threat to academic freedom and faculty governance within the public university. If the public university is to remain a center of critical inquiry, knowledge production and dissemination–where research and teaching are connected–then proposals to address contingent inequity should be prioritized within the YUFA collective bargaining process.

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