Sabrina Malek/Arnaud Soulier

Un Monde Moderne, 2005
Video, 84 min

Sabrina Malek und Arnaud Soulier are dealing with mechanisms of neoliberal strategies of exploitation within different labour-systems, demonstrating – by using concrete examples – real existence threatening consequences, humiliations and strains, but also solidarity practices.

The shipyard Chantiers de l’Atlantique, one of the largest in the world, is in Saint-Nazaire, at the Loire estuary. Since 1984 it has been part of the Alstom conglomerate and its subsidiary Leroux Naval. At present, the yard builds primarily luxury passenger liners, gas tankers, frigates and research vessels. A few years ago, the company restructured in order to save production costs. Through subcontractors, labourers were hired from Pakistan, India, Romania and Greece to work under extremely difficult conditions, without contracts or labour rights – often even without wages. Pure exploitation. Workers who helped to build the Queen Mary II – the world‘s largest passenger ship – tell of the insecure working and living conditions that pushed them to their physical and psychological limits. Any kind of resistance or solidarity was hardly possible, since they were all hired by different companies. This intolerable situation came to the notice of French workers and union representatives, who were trying to bring international labour law to bear. Migrant workers are worst affected by the consequences of unjust distribution; through this kind of exploitation, profit structures are stabilised at their expense. Conditions of exploitation are made possible by facilitating unlegislated areas through complicated and restrictive migration laws.