Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Post-Fordist situation.

·       Neo-Liberalism in the 1980s. Austerity. Thatcher in the UK, Reagan in the US . Attack on NUM ,strongest union in the UK. Destruction of the working class resistance movement by about 1984. Destruction of working class communities in the UK. 

“First austerity policies were deliberately introduced to break the ‘cycle’ of wage demands, inflation and more wage demands. This brought about the biggest unemployment level since the 1930s. With the mass worker now relatively subdued but still looking to the unions who were an integral part of the imposition of the austerity measures, the stage was set for a more long-term strategy. Capital became more mobile – that is it ran away from an insurgent industrial working class to exploit a global proletariat – globally. This necessitated changes in technology, especially communications technology that was needed to monitor and control a productive process that was now geographically disparate. But crucially it also needed an ideological offensive to sell the new form of work to a new working class."

"The result of this has been the intensification and lengthening of the working week. The value we get for the work we do, which is itself a measure of the value capital can extract from us by way of investment, has decreased steadily over the last twenty years of so. The long campaigns of workers to reduce the working week have been halted and reversed. Where capital has never conceded shorter hours to workers – for instance in the fast-industrialising Majority World – workers are often at their machine for 60-80 hours a week. This accounts for the fact that though wages are absolutely higher than they were yesterday, most people actually are or feel much poorer than before."

"‘Work’ is now something we do throughout our lives. We are no longer ever away from it – mobile phones and mobile computers bring ‘work’ to us when we are at leisure, socialising – even when we are sleeping. Workers are now on ‘permanent call. Even the unemployed are now engaged in the ‘work’ of ‘looking for work’. And there is an even greater contradiction. Even as the productive capacity of the economy has exploded hugely so that in the 1980s it was seriously suggested by some unions that our problem in the 21st century would be filling the ‘leisure time’ that the new automated economy would bring, at the same time ‘work’ has become even more imposed on greater numbers and most ‘work’ is now devoid of any genuine content at all.”

Capitalism is  getting more efficient at producing profit with less people.
  • Fordism: buy people enough to pay products they produce.

"Always at the centre of these struggles was this new ‘mass’ worker. All attempts to contain this mass worker – who had discovered that the Fordist system could be destroyed by collective action - failed. ‘Scientific management’ was no answer to workers who collectively could impose their will on the productive process. In Britain the attempt to buy off the workers ended with the intervention of the IMF in 1976, severe recession, the period of defensive struggle from 1978-1983 and the long-term demobilisation of the working class following the Miners Strike of 1984-85. Monetarist policies of the 1980s were re-introduced as within each nation state attempts were made to limit the share of the social product going to labour.”

Post-Fordism:    90s- present day:  Capitalism is now more dispersed, more technological, globalized etc. Low paid precarious service sector worker. Increased tendency towards casualisation/ part time work/ temporary work/ zero hour contracts/ workfare for the unemployed / work placements. Rise of the 'precariat'.The increased shift to the service sector  e.g. retail etc , Affective Labour, Globalization, outsourcing,  use of sweatshops and slavery in the ‘third world’, ongoing forceable dispossession of people off their lands ('primitive accumulation' ), permanent austerity .

"One way round this problem is to consider techniques which selectively hurt the boss without affecting other workers - or better still are to the advantage of the public. The 'good work' strike is a general term which means that workers provide consumers with better service or products than the employer intended. One good side-effect of the good work strike is that it places the onus of stopping a service on the employer. Even if ‘good work’ leads to a lock-out of workers by the boss, service-users would still blame the employer rather than the worker. And lock-outs can be avoided by ‘wildcat’ good working: suddenly, without notice, and for limited periods - repeated at intervals until the bosses cave in."


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