Neoliberal Capitalism and Precarious Work
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Neoliberal Capitalism and Precarious Work

Ethnographies of Accommodation and Resistance

Edited by Rob Lambert and Andrew Herod

Since the renaissance of market politics on a global scale, precarious work has become pervasive. Divided into two parts, the first section of this cross-disciplinary book analyses the different forms of precarious work that have arisen over the past thirty years. These transformations are captured in ethnographically orientated chapters on sweatshops; day labour; homework; unpaid contract work of Chinese construction workers; the introduction of insecure contracting in the Korean automotive industry; and the insecurity of Brazilian cane cutters. The editors and contributors then collectively explore trade union initiatives in the face of precarious work and stimulate debate on the issue.
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Chapter 9: Closures and openings: the politics of place and space in resisting corporate restructuring

Michael Gillan and Rob Lambert

Extract

In 2005 the Swedish global corporation Electrolux, the second-largest producer of white goods appliances in the world, announced the closure of its AEG (washing machines, dishwashers and dryers) manufacturing facility in Nuremberg (Nürnberg), Germany. Preceding the closure announcement, the factory’s unionized workforce had engaged in a series of protest actions to focus public attention upon the need to save the facility and to question the legitimacy of the corporation’s actions. In January 2006, AEG workers – led by local leaders of IG Metall, the trade union at the plant – launched strike action in support of their campaign against the closure. Notably, the strike involved extensive engagement with, and participation by, local citizens and civil society organizations. This chapter explores some of the elements of opposition to the closure decision which were independent of the official union campaign and strike. Importantly, although the involvement of local citizen and civil society groups proved a source of vitality, at times they also created tension with the local union leaders. In this context, the chapter illustrates a perhaps less analysed aspect of ‘precariousness’ and the politics of resistance to corporate restructuring, specifically the socio-spatial response to capital’s efforts to create for itself a new ‘spatial fix’ (Harvey 1982).

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