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					Fighting privatisation –
Norwegian experiences

           Asbjørn Wahl
    Campaign for the Welfare State
    The political context
 1990s: Neo-liberalism on the offensive
 Privatisation and competitive tendering ’in’
 Depoliticised and deradicalised movement
 The Labour Party moved to the right
 Increasing gap between rhetoric and practise
 Political apathy and increased non-voting
The situation in 2000/01
 Social democratic minority government
 The most extensive privatisation projects
 Telenor, Statoil and a hospital reform
 The Labour Party punished by the voters
 Gave way to aggressive right wing government
 The situation made us rethink and take action
We set ourselves new aims
    Stop the policy of privatisation
    Change public opinion
    Change political power balance
    Push the Labour Party to the left
    Create a political majority alliance
    Shift the balance of power in society
The four main pillars
 1. Our own analyses of society
 2. The building of broad alliances
 3. Alternatives to privatisation
 4. The development of trade unions
    as independent political actors
A question of power
 In the last resort, welfare is a question of
  the distribution of resources in society
 The distribution of resources in society
  is a question of social power
 Control and ownership of capital/
  resources form the basis of social power
   Regulation of capital
                  Regulation of investments




                    10% owns 2/3
Capital control     of all assets             Fixed exchange rates




                     Labour legislation
    The turning point
 The 1970s: crisis in the world economy
 The triumph of neo-liberalism
 The abolishment of capital control
 Deregulation of the markets
 The breakdown of the social pact
 Immense shift in the balance of power
The neo-liberal offensive
                  Regulation of investments




                    10% owns 2/3
Capital control     of all assets             Fixed exchange rates




                      Labour legislation
The neo-liberal offensive
                  Regulation of investments




                    10% owns 2/3
Capital control     of all assets




                      Labour legislation
The neo-liberal offensive
        Regulation of investments




          10% owns 2/3
          of all assets




            Labour legislation
The neo-liberal offensive


         10% owns 2/3
         of all assets




          Labour legislation
The neo-liberal offensive


         10% owns 2/3
         of all assets




          Labour legislation
Capital’s need for expansion
   Great surplus of capital (finance capital)
   Desperate hunt for profitable investments
   Unprecedented financial speculation
   Geographical expansion is limited
   Public sector represents biggest potential
   Systemic problems of capitalist economy
Surplus financial capital
12000

10000

 8000

 6000

 4000

 2000
                                        Billion NKR
    0
        Financial      Trade in goods
        transactions   and services
“In the interest of capital”
    ”Privatisation is more than asset
    stripping the public sector.
    It is a comprehensive strategy
    for permanently restructuring
    the welfare state and public
    services in the interest of capital.”
          Dexter Whitfield: Public Sector or Corporate Welfare
Methods of privatisation
   Direct sell-out
   Competitive tendering
   Internal markets (purchaser/provider)
   Under-investment in public sector
   The money follows the user
   Public Private Partnership
The four main pillars
 1. Our own analyses of society
 2. The building of broad alliances
 3. Alternatives to privatisation
 4. The development of trade unions
    as independent political actors
New and broad alliances
   Municipal Workers’ Union a central role
   Welfare state campaign established in 1999
   Also rebellious municipalities joined forces
   Broad alliance against the WTO policies
   Political alliance for a majority government
   2005: Broad, untraditional alliance in Oslo
The four main pillars
 1. Our own analyses of society
 2. The building of broad alliances
 3. Alternatives to privatisation
 4. The development of trade unions
    as independent political actors
Our alternative solutions
 No to privatisation and competitive tendering
  – yes to restructuring and real modernisation!
 Model municipality projects a new invention
 Agreements with sympathetic municipalities
 Projects were linked to peoples’ daily life
 Quality based on the employees’ qualification
The four main pillars
 1. Our own analyses of society
 2. The building of broad alliances
 3. Alternatives to privatisation
 4. The development of trade unions
    as independent political actors
More political trade unions
  Look to Trondheim!! – local elections 2003
  Developed their own political demands
  Pushed Labour to the left – won the election!
  Clear alternatives give better mobilisation
  The majority has been held for three elections
  Focus on politics – not on the parties
Norwegian LO followed up
   2004: «You decide – LO on your side»
   155,000 proposals from 44,000 members
   54 concrete demands were developed
   The demands sent to all political parties
   The answers sent to all the members
   Mobilisation for «a new political course»
Achievements
 Problems
Perspectives
What have we achieved?
 The privatisation of the railways stopped
 The privatisation of primary education stopped
 The destroyed Labour Law was rectified
 26 billion NOK more to the municipalities
 National control of the hydro-electric energy
 Withdrawn GATS requests to dev. countries
Municipal employment
  3
2,5
  2
1,5
  1
0,5
  0
-0,5
       2001   2002   2003   2004   2005   2006
The government’s problems
 Limited understanding of power relations
 Does not link up to the social movements
 Problems in fulfilling its expectations
 The gap between rich and poor is widening
 Fails in important welfare policies (pensions)
 Local election: No success – SV lost the most
    Consumption growth
6                                Private
5                                Public

4

3

2

1

0
     2005   2006   2007   2008
Power: The welfare state

      International preconditions



            Political level



            Economic level
Power: Neo-liberalism

    International preconditions



          Political level



          Economic level
Power: After 2005 election

       International preconditions



             Political level



             Economic level
The Norwegian success?!
 Polarisation: The ideological divide reestablished
 Trade unions as independent political actors
 New and untraditional alliances are built
 Concrete alternatives to privatisation developed
 Long-term campaigning changed public opinion
 Privatisation policies are stopped / reduced
What will happen in 2009?
  The government not delivered: no enthusiasm
  The alliances / movements are weakened
  New neo-liberal / populist government
                          or
  The government has delivered: new enthusiasm
  The alliances / movements are strengthened
  Still majority for a ”new political course”
  In other words:
Important victories are won,
 but the struggle continues!

				
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posted:3/21/2012
language:English
pages:35