On the Barricades, March 14, 2021
In Serbia the freelancers have been protesting since late January, while in Romania the unions are mobilizing. This week, the guests of our show On The Barricades shall be Marko Miletić, from the Serbian left-wing outlet Mašina and Baricada România‘s Radu Stochiţa.
The now one-year-old pandemic has made the everyday hardships of the working class much more severe. In many counties the various lockdowns, as well as other restrictions had, economically speaking, a war-like effect. Only some businesses were compensated by state governments, let alone the workers.
Among the worst-hit groups were self-employed people, including freelancers. Unlike other professional groups, they have almost no option to form class-based collectives and to bargain as such. Workers have been encouraged for decades to give up ‘old-fashioned’ employment contracts and become ‘flexible’ by ‘setting up enterprises’ which mostly meant registering one-man ‘companies.’ They were teased with tax relief and other incentives of neoliberal character.
Now, when the system is in crisis it has cracked down on them quite badly. We discussed the situation in Serbia and compared it to the Polish reality in this respect.
And then, on to Romania, where a new upheaval can be observed on the part of the labor unions. Baricada România‘s reporter Radu Stochiţa will draw the new class-balance picture in that country and take us through the most recent mobilizations, and the reasons behind them as well, as the reactions of the Romanian Left to this, somewhat surprising for many, upswing. The spectrum is rather large — from nurses to miners.
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