Workers' struggles and capitalist strategies: Perspectives from Africa and South America in an age of 'sustainability'

Workshop organised by Centre on Labour, Sustainability and Global Production
17 and 18 June 2024 at Queen Mary University of London


June 17th
10.30 to 13.00: Structures of capital in agriculture, logistics and manufacturing in Africa and South America
15.00 to 17.30: Workers’ creativity, education and the co-production of knowledge of capital

June 18th
10.00 to 13.00: Contours of strategy and struggle from below
14:00: Walking tour by Edward Legon and Jack Sargeant

Even as a sustainability agenda is being mainstreamed across business and policy-making, it is defined predominantly through environmental considerations. This is important but it overlooks the critical social dimension of sustainability. Through a range of events and workshops in recent years, the Centre on Labour, Sustainability and Global Production (CLaSP) has emphasized the need to combine perspectives on ecology and labour for a sustainability agenda that is transformative and not piecemeal and status-quoist.  
Building on this past work, the Centre’s end-of-year event in 2024 will focus on an open-ended analysis of struggles and strategies by the ‘labouring classes’ in the contexts of shifting capitalist strategies and varied ecological crises, from global heating to localised crop disease; in other words, it will focus on rethinking structures of capital from below. It will focus on Africa and South America as two of the largest regions of the global South, which is already being disproportionately impacted by climate change, and on varied sectors like agricultural, logistics and manufacturing within them.  
We ask: how is environmental change impacting workers across different sectoral and regional contexts? How are the strategies of capital transforming in response to environmental change and demands for just transition? How are workers and their organizations/unions responding to these changes? What kinds of historical legacies of collective action/struggle are shaping their response? What possibilities and contradictions emerge with the loss of key sites of organised working class power as a result of 'sustainability transitions'? What kind of (dis)articulations exist between formal trade unions and informal grassroots organizing and between production and social reproduction? What dilemmas and opportunities exist in building solidarities with subaltern communities who may not see themselves as part of the labouring classes? Finally, what are the strategies for workers’ education being used, what can be learned from different contexts and how can bridge struggles and build wider solidarities?  
Held over two days at Queen Mary University of London, the event will consist of two panels on Monday 17 June from 10.30 to 17.30, and a roundtable on 18 June from 10.00-13.00,  ending with an East London walking tour at 14.00.  We are keen that attendees engage actively in this event. As such, we recommend that people attend both days because the format is designed to build iteratively on each other and maintain continuity in discussions.

Speakers include:
- Angela Dziedzom Akorsu, School for Development Studies. University of Cape Coast, Ghana   
- Maurizio Atzeni, CEIL/CONICET Argentina and Facultad de Economía y Negocios, Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Chile   
- Dario Azzellini, Autonomous University of Zacatecas, Mexico.   
- Jörg Nowak, Universidade de Brasilia, Brazil    
- Rose Omamo, General Secretary, Amalgamated Union of Kenya Metal Workers, Kenya   
- Julia Soul, National Scientific and Technical Research Council,  CEIL/Centro de Estudios e Investigaciones Laborales, TEL/Taller de Estudios Laborales, Argentina- Dzodzi Tsikata, Department of Development Studies, SOAS, University of London

Attendance is free and in-person only, please register in advance here:


Graduate Centre, Room GC201 | 327 Mile End Road | London, England, E1 4NS | United Kingdom