Category archives for SPERI Comment

The working lives of the under-30s show the future of work for us all

New research by the TUC to understand the lives of Britain’s young workers will help improve work and give them a path to union membership Lindsay’s phone rings again as she squints at the list of house calls for the day. On the end of the phone an elderly client cries as she pleads for someone to come and help … Continue reading

23 May 2017 by
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How the financial industry mobilized against the European Financial Transaction Tax

Despite broad post-crisis support in Europe for a financial transaction tax, the financial industry successfully lobbied to water down proposals and delay its implementation 2017 should be the year when the much-delayed and watered down European Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) is finally implemented – but this is looking increasingly unlikely. After the 2008 financial crisis a large public coalition of … Continue reading

22 May 2017 by
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How to reform the UN Security Council?

Reform of UN Security Council must look to a ‘Weak Veto’ How to reform the troubled UN Security Council? This has been a question challenging policymakers, diplomats and academics for decades.  There is widespread agreement that reforms for the Security Council (UNSC) are needed but no consensus on the best way forward. To consider this question Matthew Gould and I … Continue reading

18 May 2017 by
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Back to the future: women’s work and the gig economy

Learning from the history of women’s work can help to overcome discrimination and improve working conditions in the gig economy ‘The future of work’ is big news, with the debate also picking up speed in policy circles. And with good reason: a persistent lack of decent work globally is negatively affecting incomes, and therefore living standards. Addressing this is an … Continue reading

16 May 2017 by
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Review: The End of British Politics? by Mick Moran

Scott Lavery

This timely new book expertly charts the endurance of the British state and how elites have sought to ‘repurpose’ it. Whether this can be achieved again after Brexit is highly uncertain In the eleven months since the EU referendum, there has been a daily flood of Brexit-related news, analysis and polemic. Legal wrangling between parliament and executive, party political manoeuvrings … Continue reading

15 May 2017 by
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To gain legitimacy new metro-mayors must improve turnout and diversity

New metro-mayors must now deliver on their policy commitments, and quickly seek to secure the ‘democratic moment’ that advocates of devolution promised The elections of metro-mayors in six English city-regions, a significant constitutional innovation, might have been expected to enthuse voters and the media alike, although battle hardened spectators of politics were likely to be more pessimistic. Local elections and … Continue reading

11 May 2017 by
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Longevity as transferable ‘risk’: the new financial dynamics of ageing

Giselle Datz

Transfers between defined benefit pension schemes and (re)insurance companies are expanding the landscape of retirement risk shifts We are witnessing an unprecedented global demographic achievement: the world population’s life expectancy for people at the age of 60 has increased from 18.7 years in 2000 to 20.4 years in 2015, according to the World Health Organization.  Between 2015 and 2030, the … Continue reading

10 May 2017 by
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Falling through the gaps: insecure work and the social safety net

Jane Mansour

Labour market support systems need to adapt to better support the growing number of workers in vulnerable employment Vulnerable employment, with workers experiencing high levels of precariousness, is a global phenomenon.  The ILO projects global growth in vulnerable forms of employment to grow by 11 million a year.  The impacts of this are being felt across developed, emerging and developing … Continue reading

9 May 2017 by
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Millennials versus Baby Boomers: words matter in the politics of intergenerational fairness

Kate Alexander Shaw

Rhetoric used today to describe intergenerational debates will shape tomorrow’s policies – and affect all of our futures The last several years have seen an upswell of interest in the idea of intergenerational fairness, based on concerns that today’s young people cannot hope to achieve the same prosperity as older generations.  The financial crisis of 2008-09, and the subsequent weakness … Continue reading

8 May 2017 by
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Metro-mayor elections: a new type of second-order election?

As polls open a range of electoral features – personality, campaigning and voting systems – will tell us if voters see today’s elections as ‘second-order’ Metro-mayor elections are clearly second-order elections as defined by Reif and Schmitt (1980). Second-order elections are characterised by lower turnout than in national-level elections and they are perceived as less important by voters, parties and … Continue reading

4 May 2017 by
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Organising against the gig economy – lessons from Latin America?

Adam Fishwick

New strategies of organisation and workers’ control in Latin America suggest ways to tackle the insecurity of the gig economy Workers in the so-called ‘gig economy’ face heightening conditions of precarity and exploitation – from delivery couriers to taxi drivers, as has been shown in this series so far, conditions of work are increasingly deleterious and show little sign of … Continue reading

2 May 2017 by
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New Unions, Old Laws – Why flexibility is key in the ‘gig economy’

Sebastien Flais

The gig economy companies must and can be challenged to better protect their workers; this can be done under existing legislation The conventional understanding surrounding work divides employment into two categories: employee and self-employed.  The former offers more rights but less flexibility, the latter offers more flexibility but with no rights at all.  These are helpful umbrella terms but they … Continue reading

2 May 2017 by
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Brexit Britain and undemocracy: an epilogue

Craig Berry

Paradoxically, the snap election is a further nail in the coffin of actually-existing British democracy – and reinforces the role of Brexit in the revival of conservative statecraft Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election for June continues Britain’s descent towards ‘undemocracy’, a trend crystallised in the 2016 EU referendum.  While the notion of ‘post-democracy’ signals the marginalisation of … Continue reading

28 April 2017 by
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Metro-mayors: campaigning in poetry, governing in prose?

New metro-mayors will be elected in English city-regions on May 4th.  Once elected the hard task of defining the new roles begins Hugh Carey, former Governor of New York State, claimed that politicians campaign in poetry and govern in prose. Whether it is Andy Burnham’s claim to make Manchester ‘a beacon of social justice to the rest of the country’ … Continue reading

27 April 2017 by
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The Changing World of Work and the trade union movement’s response

The economy and employment are changing fast, but there are important steps that unions can take to be prepared In 2016, the final panel session at the Unions 21 conference discussed the union movement’s response to the debate on the future of work and in the past year, I have attended events, read reports and had endless discussions on the … Continue reading

25 April 2017 by
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Organising with on-demand freelancers in the platform economy: Part Two

Adopting online freelancing platforms as part of your business model presents organisations with challenges that require novel solutions Digital technologies have enabled the rise of online labour platforms that transform contemporary organisations and the way work gets done.  In Part One of this blog, I introduced a typology of online labour platforms and described the motivations of organisations to work … Continue reading

25 April 2017 by
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Disarray on the French left – what next for the Parti Socialiste?

Sean McDaniel

Socialist candidate Benoît Hamon looks set to finish fifth in Sunday’s presidential election. With crucial legislative elections following in June, the party is in disarray. This year’s French presidential election campaign has been dominated not by one ‘story’ but several.  Not only do we have the unnerving popularity of Marine Le Pen, who looks set to make it into the … Continue reading

21 April 2017 by
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It’s time to regulate the gig economy

Technology is used to monitor workers doing platform-based work. It can also be used to regulate work and protect workers Over a century ago, labour laws began to be instituted in diverse countries throughout the world. These laws were intended to provide protection to workers in what was recognized as an unequal relationship of exchange, but it also gave authority … Continue reading

18 April 2017 by
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Organizing with on-demand freelancers in the platform economy: Part One

To understand the future of work we need to explore the diversity of platforms and how they are used in the modern economy In the platform economy, digital technologies enable a wide range of interactions.  You’re probably familiar with sharing economy platforms such as Uber and Airbnb.  But probably lesser known are the transformative effects that online labour platforms have … Continue reading

18 April 2017 by
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Liberalisation of the Water Industry: What next for consumer and environmental protection?

Jon Morris

From April 1st companies in the UK can choose to switch their water provider; a domestic roll-out for households seems inevitable On April 1st the liberalisation of the English water industry for commercial consumers came into force.  This is the result of the 2014 Water Act which gives businesses, charities, and public sector customers in England the freedom to switch … Continue reading

13 April 2017 by
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