Networks of casual workers today may fulfil the emancipatory promise of the International, argues retired academic Peter Waterman. In a discussion paper, he suggests investigating just how these networks relate to traditional trade unions.
One of the examples he discusses are the Euromarches, a European network of organisations of the unemployed that have campaigned for a ‘social Europe’ since 1997. One of the main goals of the network was the introduction of a social minimum income at the European level.
More broadly, he refers to networks of casual workers; urban residential communities; child workers; rural labour communities; indigenous peoples; immigrant workers; petty producers; the unemployed; the high- and low-tech ‘precariat’ and other categories, which of course overlap.
Waterman suggests such networks should not just be considered as temporary or transitional forms of organisation, on their way to becoming ‘real’ unions; but as a possible alternative or complement to traditional unions – one more suited to the kind of labour to be increasingly found under a globalised, networked, computerised and services capitalism.
Waterman’s paper, still a work in progress, can be obtained on request from the author.