[WSMDiscuss] Against the Logistics of Exploitation (Stockholm Meeting, Nov 23-25) | Transnational Social Strike Platform

Örsan Şenalp orsan1234 at gmail.com
Sat Nov 3 12:43:54 CET 2018


Against the Logistics of Exploitation (Stockholm Meeting, Nov 23-25) |
Transnational Social Strike Platform

Read the first program outline:

Unions and collectives from Sweden, UK, Germany, France, Poland,
Italy, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Spain, Norway, Slovenia, Slovakia
and Czech Republic have confirmed their presence. Please in order to
take part in the meeting fill in this registration form:

Read the call out in several languages:

Check out the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/342866613135963/

Against the Logistics of Exploitation: Notes from the TSS Platform

Over the weekend of November 23rd-25th, 2018, the Transnational Social
Strike Platform (TSS) calls workers, union members and activists from
across Europe and beyond to meet in Stockholm to discuss how to
organize against logistical command over labor. We call logistical
command a set of transformations that interests the whole world,
changing economies, political geographies and the functioning of
society and institutions. As logistics is one of the main forces that
affects the capacity of workers and migrants to organize and win, a
new assessment of the situation in which we act is needed in order to
increase the capacity of our struggles: logistics is a battlefield we
need to understand and practice if we want to reverse today’s power

Two are the intertwined dimensions of this logistical command we want
to focus on. The first one concerns the material connections that tie
together production sites across the globe:  what happens in one spot
of the chains of production and distribution affects the other spots.
Multinational companies, international subcontracting, posting of
workers, outsourcing, privatizations of formerly public enterprises:
all these processes place each workplace, factory, warehouse,
construction site into a wider and interconnected network. Moreover,
the development of international infrastructural projects such as The
New Silk Road, creating material, economic and political links between
China and Europe throughout Central Asia, pushes us to come to terms
with the coexistence of a wildly differentiated situation in terms of
working conditions and organizing practices. The second one concerns
the fact that such transformations are strictly connected to a
politics of regulations of labor and government of mobility that
affects every place, albeit in different ways, producing both
interdependency and fragmentation.

Logistics is first and foremost the transnational organization of
labor we need to confront. This organization has produced in the last
years new seedbeds of struggles: sensible points to be disrupted, new
concentration of labor force in strategic nodes, new strike waves and
connections between migrant and native workers. At the same time,
logistics responds to conflict by isolating, fragmenting and weakening
the possibility for a collective rebellion against exploitation and
its conditions. We thus need to elaborate a clear picture of the ways
in which the logistical management of labor acts in order not to make
our struggles be just temporary, isolated and predictable setbacks in
the gears of this transnational engine. While struggles are too often
confined to single industrial categories and based at the national
level, company and bosses benefit from different national labor laws
and wage differentials and “delocalization” effects are played out in
each locality through outsourcing, the multiplication of employment
forms and the hiring of blackmailed precarious and migrant labor. At
the same time, an increasing mobility of workers across labor sectors
and borders reveals a workers’ use of this very mobility against the
pretension of logistical command.

We witness a reality of widespread but scattered forms of
insubordination to logistical command, which shows the possibility of
its rejection. But all this calls for new forms of organization and
requires overcoming the narrowness of sectorial disputes and the
limits of the present forms of union organizing and activist
solidarity, especially in terms of transnational connections and
efficacy of the strikes: while nationalist discourses divide workers
leaving capital’s rule undisturbed, we need to surpass the idea that a
national dimension of struggle can keep up with the attack of
logistical command. The case of this summer’s Amazon strike launched
from Spain and then taken up by warehouses across Europe, is a
concrete example of the necessity to build on existing
insubordinations to develop struggles that are transnational from
their start.

But the impact of logistical command does not simply concern the way
in which labor is organized across the borders. The reorganization of
production has been paired everywhere with reforms and policies that
cut welfare benefits, erase previous conquests, govern the mobility of
migrants from within and without the EU.  Reforms such as Hartz IV in
Germany, the Jobs Act in Italy, the Loi Travail and Ordonnances in
France, regulations against the right to strike and to cut welfare
benefits are good examples in this regard. Even the heralded “social”
and “anti-European” measures taken up by right-wing governments
throughout Europe – as in the case of Italy – are only apparently
against this flow and both reinforce logistical command, the
conditions of subordination of workers and foster fragmentation. Our
hypothesis is that the logistical transformation only works if it is
supported by certain kinds of policies, by now widespread throughout
the globe, that have the general effect to constrain workers to work
at whatever condition, to fragment them and to weaken their capacity
to advance any collective claim.

Sweden – where we decided to hold our next meeting – is emblematic in
this regard: the recent law proposal intending to make most forms of
strike illegal, cripples workers’ influence in a way that is unmatched
in Swedish history. The restriction of the right to strike is directly
aimed against workers in the logistics sector, crucial for a strongly
internationalized economy as the Swedish one. Even in a country where
the social democratic compromise seemed strong and stable, the impact
of logistics and neoliberal policies is hitting hard. In response to
this attack, the Strike Back movement has successfully been launched,
producing a strong convergence of energies. While the law might be
anyhow enforced, the challenge is now to elaborate new strategies to
counteract its effects. As already in the movement against the loi
travail in France, one of such strategies is the recognition and
establishment of transnational connections and a re-centering of
transnational solidarity and wider political connections in the
conflict practices of domestic workers.

Connected to this, we think that the outburst of institutional racism
and of the bloody legislations on migration has only apparently the
sole aim of keeping migrants outside the borders of the EU or specific
countries: on the contrary, it is also aimed at setting up a space
where workers can move regularly only when they are required to and
are available to work no matter how and under the blackmail of
institutional racism. The recent agreement in Germany for a new
selective immigration law is a stark example in this regard. But
institutional racism takes different forms across Europe, from
pro-European policies to violent nationalism : if the first follows
the logistical fantasy of a fully governed mobility, the latter
reinforces exploitation through the criminalization of migrants. It is
important to recognize that both options are violent answers to the
widespread rise of social insecurity and the forms of insubordination
of workers and migrants. Moreover, despite these attempts the massive
movements of migrants are what in principle puts the logistics
management of labor into crisis, because it is uncontrollable, it
doesn’t fit in the gears. The mass migrants’ caravan crossing Mexico
directed to the United States and the never ending strike against the
borders along the so called Balkan route are two visible examples of
the global struggle of migrants against logistical command. But this
struggle emerges everywhere migrants fight against institutional
racism and the attempt of making them politically silent, such as in
the case of the Afghans’ strike in Sweden.

Confronted with all of this we believe that the possibility to reclaim
national governments to fight against logistical command on the side
of workers is out of time. This poses the crucial questions of what
kind of political claims we can fight for in this situation, and what
kind of political dimension we need to consider if we want to be
effective. As TSS, we insist that the transnational dimension is the
only viable option. This has to do both with the existence of global
supply chains, and the existence of global conditions in each and
every place. We do not deny that positive examples have been able to
obtain partial victories. But we think the times requires a radical
reinvention of forms of organization, discourses and aims in order to
point towards a transformation of the present. The question is in
front of us of how do we build connections that turn differences in a
collective and transnational political force against the fragmentation
produced by logistical command.

Our meeting has thus a practical political aim: to materialize
connections both in spatial and political terms. We want to overcome
the idea that labor disputes, migrant struggles and struggle over
welfare and social benefits are separated fields, and to imagine
unprecedented connections recognizing the fact that nationalism and
racism against migrants are directly used by logistics to produce
hierarchies, organize labor and make higher profits. For this reason,
we seek to bring together those who have taken part in disputes
against logistical command across and beyond the European space. We
are aware of the profound imbalances on which logistical networks
feed:  we see the difference of conditions between, say, places such
as Sweden or Georgia, Italy or Poland. However, inspired by the global
women’s strike that in the last two years has unleashed the potential
and the novelty of a global practice of the strike, we want to focus
on how to cope with these differences and how to lift the obstacles we
meet when imagining the possibility of connecting existing struggles
and organizing wider ones confronting the logistics of exploitation.

We take up the challenge of rooting our strategies from within these
different landscapes of existing and potential insubordination, in
order to develop a political infrastructure that does not privilege
certain models of labor organizing over others, eventually reproducing
those same hierarchies we seek to fight. For these reasons, our
meeting proposes to be a space of encounter of different realities
from which to continue and enlarge a process of confrontation and
composition of demands and actions against the logistics of
exploitation. The meeting in Stockholm will be a crucial step in the
construction, independently from any kind of connection with
institutional politics, of the political infrastructure we need.

Source: https://www.transnational-strike.info/2018/10/26/against-the-logistics-of-exploitation-presentation-stockholm-meeting-nov-23-25/

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