Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2016
The old world is dying and the new world struggles to be born. — Antonio Gramsci
THE old world of the labour movement started unravelling in the 1990s when finance and production went global, kicked up by unbridled capitalism. In the new system of production, traditional labour relations — characterised by long-term employment, job security and workers’ representation — fell apart. In developing countries, union density plummeted. Was it the end of organised labour? Or, have new forms of labour solidarity started filling the vacuum?
As the taxi drove down the busy intersection of the dual carriageway, lined with buildings, the driver asked us ”Which department?” Bewildered, we told him to first take us to the Institute. “This is the campus”, he said. So, we had already entered the Institut Technology Sepuluh Nopember, Surabaya. With no boundary walls, its many departments, administration blocks and the staff town intermingled with the city. Like a live organ of the throbbing metropolis. Unlike our academic institutes–walled, hedged, fenced, enclaved. Guarded by rangers. Isolated from the city and its dwellers. As if existing outside its space and time.