Transforming the Global “Precariat” into a Political Force

by Alphan Telek on openDemocracy

Excerpt below:

New relations of production: socio-economic insecurities

“Guy Standing asserts that the relations of production under neoliberal capitalism are shaped according to the existence or non-existence of seven socio-economic sources of security.[i] Insofar as people’s social and individual experience suffer from a lack of these socio-economic goods, they share the features of the precariat. Economic insecurities push them to say, “We do not have a future”. And this sense of deprivation of a future is clearly seen in the push factor in what is called economic migration as well as in the recent street protests in Iran and Tunisia, deemed as Global South countries.

The common experiences of the precariat life-style emerge alongside the lack of labor market security.[ii] People have tremendous difficulties finding a job and in most cases, the unemployment rates only ever rise. This makes people vulnerable, forcing them to accept any precarious and short-term job. Secondly, the forms of employment security that include protection against arbitrary dismissal have been directly targeted by neoliberal regulations both in the Global North and the South. Today, only a tiny proportion of employees have this employment security. Thirdly, the supportive character of the workplace in a secure job once offered a person prospects in terms of a career and guarantees against skill dilution. Nobody today can say that workplaces do justice to employees in terms of this security.

Fourthly, Standing claims that work security covers health regulations and protections against workplace accidents etc. It should be underlined that the main difference between Global North and South countries is the distribution of such safety nets. Most of the time, Global South countries experience more workplace accidents than Global North countries. However, the basis for this type of security is under the constant threat of being dismantled in the Global North as well, as in the struggles to defend welfare and health services in the workplace.

It is also very well known that the further security that lies in representation (the trade union’s collective voice as a protection in the workplace) has long been targeted by neoliberal regulations. The skydiving numbers of trade union members after 1980 are not a secret for both Global North and South. Lastly, there is no income security that can sustain a minimum wage for an honorable life.  All these economic insecurities are real in the lives of people both from Global North and South countries. ”


Read the full article here  and on e-flux conversations.

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