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The union has reoriented towards entrepreneurship: neoliberal solidarities on Zambia’s Copperbelt

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journal contribution
posted on 01.12.2021, 03:55 authored by Thomas McNamaraThomas McNamara
Extensive labour subcontracting has decimated workers’ incomes and unions’ power on Zambia’s Copperbelt. In response, miners and workers with permanent contracts provide each other daily material support, and unions sell credit-based services to members, enabling their daily lives and subsidising subcontractors’ unionisation. These interactions make Zambia’s low-wage resource extraction viable. They can therefore be understood as ‘neoliberal solidarities’: struggles to refashion material and social relations in a more equitable way, which structurally support neoliberal political economies and projects of self-making. These solidarities entrench union–company interdependence, empowering unions to make more radical demands, yet making the realisation of these demands more difficult to imagine.

Funding

This article was written as part of the WORKinMINING project (https://www.workinmining.ulg.ac.be).The project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no. 646802).

History

Publication Date

01/09/2021

Journal

Third World Quarterly

Volume

42

Issue

9

Pagination

(p. 2152-2171)

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

ISSN

0143-6597

Rights Statement

© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

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