The Global Labour University will hold an International Workshop at the University of Witwatersrand (WITS), in Johannesburg, South Africa from 28-30 September 2011 to discuss the different dimensions of an labour agenda for change.
The global economic crisis has had a particularly hard‐hitting impact on working people, their families and communities throughout the world. What is more, they also face an environmental crisis that is closely linked to the economic crisis. Together, these crises have intensified the dispossession of the commons (including both local resources and public goods such as health and education), the informalisation of labour, unemployment, national and global social inequality, and the “slummification” of cities. Declining biodiversity, climate change and pollution are evidence of the impact of the crisis on the planet itself. Environmental degradation threatens viable livelihoods and endangers public health. Meanwhile, the market imperatives get defining power over daily life, business interests tighten their stranglehold on the state logic and power is transferred to supranational institutions with limited democratic accountability, simultaneously narrowing electoral choices, and increasing restrictions on protest.
Labour, as a key social force of the excluded majority, has a crucial role to play in countering the destructive logic of capitalism. The politics of labour is about altering the balance of power away from the capital and unelected bureaucracies toward labour and broader society. The politics of labour is also about overcoming the multiple relations of power and oppression, including the economic, political, gender, ethnic and cultural, that contribute to and reproduce the power of the few and the subordination of the many. This has the following dimensions: