The city of Rio de Janeiro is home to 6 million people with approximately 1.5 million residents living in favelas. These residential communities, named after the favela trees native to the region, are commonly misunderstood by outsiders. Although 32% of favela residents belong to the lower-class, a 2013 study found that 85% of people residing in favelas like where they live. Some favelas have high crime rates, but many are high-functioning, self-governing communities.
In the 1870s, the Maharaja (prince) of Patiala, a small princely state in the Punjab region of northern India, implemented the Biswedari (big landlord) system, which appointed biswedaris as local authorities of agrarian villages. The biswedaris, mostly government officials and close kin of the Maharaja, gradually took full possession of lands and reduced the original owners to the status of muzaras (tenants). Muzaras had to pay batai (share rent) to their landlords, consisting of half of their crop, though landlords often overestimated the crop yield to justify taking a larger share.
University of Glasgow students occupy Hetherington House protesting proposed education cuts (Free Hetherington Campaign), 2011
In January of 2011, reports began to circulate at the University of Glasgow that massive cuts were coming to academic programs, staff employment rates and student services. Student activists targeted the abandoned Hetherington Research club, a former post-graduate club that had been shut down in January of 2010 due to a previous round of budget cuts, as a potential place of occupation from which protesters could issue demands against austerity. The university was beginning renovations on the building that appeared geared towards the university selling it as private office space.
On 11 September 1973, Chilean dictator Augusto Pinoche came to power and during the 1970s, he privatized Chile’s education system. The central government gave money to some private schools, while the public schools remained grossly underfunded. This commercialization of education began a legacy of educational attainment disparity along socioeconomic class lines—the poor received poor quality education, received jobs that paid meager wages, and remained poor, while the wealthy received high quality education, went on to university, and obtained well-paying jobs that increased their wealth.
On 14 October 2007, citizens of El Alto, Bolivia demanded that all bars and brothels facilitating sex work be located at least 3,200 feet away from schools, because they believed that the establishments were facilitating crime in the area. They then began a three-day rampage of the bars and brothels in the impoverished red-lights district of El Alto. These El Alto citizens, primarily parents and students, burned or destroyed at least 50 brothels, burned sex workers’ belongings, and beat sex workers.
Marikana platinum mine, near Rustenburg, South Africa, employed thousands of workers, composed mostly of migrants working for low wages. Lonmin, a British mining company, owned Marikana. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) represented most of the workers at Marikana. NUM was one of the two largest unions in the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), an extremely powerful organization and a major player in South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC).
Since its founding in 1859, Cooper Union had operated as a tuition-free art, architecture, and engineering school. However, after years of financial troubles, the College announced on 24 April 2012 that it would begin charging graduate students tuition beginning in the fall of 2014. Large numbers of students, faculty, and alumni strongly opposed this announcement; many blamed the shortfall on poor management of the endowment, expensive building construction, and over-reliance on poorly performing hedge fund investments.
ME Jallow founded the Gambia Workers’ Union (GWU) in 1956, and held the position of General Secretary until the mid 1980s. GWU’s base consisted of unskilled laborers, especially the growing number of workers in Bathurst. The union first began by supporting industrial workers who were taking action to protest low pay. In February 1960, the colonial government, pressured by an upcoming election, responded positively to a strike in Bathurst led by daily paid workers. Government officials formed a commission on wage rates and increased the minimum wage by 25 percent.
Phulbari is a region in the northwest region of Bangladesh. It is an important agricultural region that is also home to low quality coal deposit. Several companies have proposed to use the open pit technique for mining the coal, which would displace thousands of people, many of them indigenous people. The proposed mining projects would destroy farmland, homes, and divert water sources to be used in the mining process.
In the summer of 2013, massive protests against the World Cup and public service cuts erupted across Brazil. Following this wave of protest, the State Union of Education Professional of Rio de Janeiro (SEPE-RJ), which represents both state teachers in Rio de Janeiro and municipal teachers in the city of Rio, launched a strike on 8 August 2013.
In 20th century Australia indigenous workers were treated completely differently from the Caucasian settlers on the continent. Until the 1920s, for example, Aboriginals employed at pastoral stations in Australia received rations of clothing and food instead of cash wages.
For Chileans living in the southern Patagonia region, natural
gas is crucial for heating their homes, most importantly during the frigid
winter months. The Chilean Government has been subsidizing natural gas up to
85% for all people in this region because it is the most remote and holds the
highest cost of living in the country. Without this government support, many of
its users would struggle or be unable to pay for it.
Wukan is a coastal Chinese fishing village with a population of approximately 13,000. Located in the southeastern province of Guangdong, Wukan rose to international prominence in 2011 when villagers began protesting against corruption at the city level and unfair compensation for land seizure. Villagers claim that, since 1998, more than 400 hectares of land had been seized without compensation and that corrupt Lufeng city officials have skimmed more than 110 million U.S. dollars from commercial land sale.
In the fall of 2009, the University of California Board of Regents met at UCLA to discuss and vote for a tuition hike necessary for them to deal with shrinking budget and spending cuts across the board. The Universities’ budget deficits were associated with those troubling the state of California. The proposed increase in tuition of 32% would force annual tuition costs above $10,000 for the first time in history.
In June of 1973, workers at the Brookside coal mine in Harlan County, Kentucky voted 113-55 to replace their membership in the Southern Labor Union (SLU) and join the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) union. The SLU was largely seen as serving the interests of the mine owners rather than the workers.
The owners of the mine, Eastover Coal Company, a subsidiary of Duke Power Company, refused to sign the new contracts, which would have established a UMWA local in Brookside.
After achieving independence from French colonial rule in 1960, the Central African Republic was controlled by a series of military coups. On 20 September 1981 General Anre Kolingba overthrew the authority of President Dacko.
The Walk to Work was a campaign that happened in Uganda led by the leader of The Forum for Democratic Change, Kizza Besigye. Its main goal was to curb the high cost of living as result of high food and fuel prices.
This campaign started after the general election in February 2011 and ended in June 2011. Though the leader of opposition lost the election in Uganda, this campaign propelled his “cause to the top of the agenda and won him far greater popularity than during the general election.
In 2012, Colombian coffee prices fell 35% on the international market while the Colombian peso appreciated 10%. A combination of crop disease, bad weather, and unfavorable currency rates forced growers in Colombia to sell their coffee at a loss. Many coffee growers then found themselves spending more on fertilizers and supplies than what they were making for their coffee.
In the face of a stagnating post-war economy, Polish Communist leader Władysław Gomułka, the First Secretary of the Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR), decided to end government subsidies for food and other everyday items in late 1970. Although the system of fixed, artificially low food prices kept urban discontent in check, it was unsustainable, absorbing approximately one third of the budget.
Unemployed Detroit auto workers conduct Hunger March to protest Ford Motor Company's policies, United States, 1932
During the Great Depression, Detroit, Michigan, and its auto-industry suffered an exceptional amount. After the stock market crash of 1929, around 80 percent of the industry was no longer producing and by 1932 large numbers of Detroit's citizens were dying of starvation. The Ford Motor Company, one of the richest employers, had laid off two-thirds of its employees. The Unemployed Councils, United Auto Workers, and communist union-organizing groups decided to organize a march against the Ford Motor Company and its employment policies.
During the 1860s and 1870s, workers in Sicily supported each other through mutual aid societies, which claimed the right to strike and to lobby for wage increases. This precedent of organized labor, along with a recent history of peasant uprisings against feudal aristocracy and the spread of socialist ideology, set the stage for the Fasci Siciliani movement.
Rural Ecuador had functioned under the huasipungo land-tenure system since the 16th century. The tenant farmers, called huasipungueros, were mainly of indigenous descent and worked 3 to 6 days a week on hacienda estates in the highlands, owned by absentee elite white families. In exchange for their labor, the laborers received a small plot of land for subsistence, access to pasture land for cattle, and a small cash wage. The indigenous farmers were highly attached to their land although their plots were still owned by the hacienda.
The League of Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY) wanted to situate Yugoslavia in a balance between the Soviet dominated Eastern Europe and US dominated West. In order to ensure this global placement, Yugoslavians exercised an economic reform program during 1964-65. LCY utilized market mechanisms to overcome stagnation and stimulate economic growth, but employment and a growth in wage disparity ensued instead. Members of the Yugoslavian Student League as well as professors and editors of dissonant magazines established spaces for critique and set the stage for nonviolent
In the early 1900s livestock, often the currency of exchange, formed the foundation of the Kenyan Kamba tribe’s economy. A family’s herd size determined its wealth. As Britain colonized Kenya, this localized provisioning enabled the Kamba to remain relatively self-sufficient.
In April of 2006 Chilean high school students had many complaints against the government and the way it ran the public school system. Chief among their concerns included bus fares and university exam fees. Over the previous few years, there had been isolated protests throughout the city, but none had gathered very much momentum. In 2006, however, in the first major social movement since “Chileans overthrow Pinochet regime,” the students took the general public by surprise.