Criticizing Digital Labour
Performance, measurement and the risks of the digitalized workplace
Our guests will discuss elements of digitalized management methods (DMM) and their application in the workplace, in the streets, offices and factories through the means of new sensors, devices, software and management systems. One of the key elements of DMM is the widespread application of measurements: the elaboration and storage of big data sets, sophisticated automatized statistics with predictive tendencies and new forms of quantification of labour. We will reflect onchallenges posed by digitalized labour and focus on topics of control and measurement, performance management, workload compression, optimization of digitalized work for dependent employees. Workers are facing significant new risks as they encounter contemporary pressures within the new world of work. Together with our guests we will consider the realities of these risks and the emergence of creative solutions by the international community and trade unions.
► Dr. Phoebe Moore (University of Leicester): Risks and threats of violence in digitalized work: International community and trade union responses
Digitalized management methods (DMM) are becoming widespread with the use of big data and algorithmic distribution of work, the use of people analytics, bogus self-employment and an ‘always on’ culture of work and boundary permeability. Machinic transformations in automation and computerisation, new management systems such as ‹agility›, and changing working conditions have led to speed-up and work intensification. This new world of digitalized work is resulting in rapidly rising risks for workers that are often overlooked. Moore will present her recent research for the United Nations' International Labour Organization (ILO) labour bureau ACTRAV, entitled ‘The Threat of Physical and Psychosocial Violence and Harassment in Digitalized Work’ (ILO 2018). In her latest ILO report, Moore outlines the risks of psychosocial problems that workers face in increasingly digitalized workplaces; labour instruments of the existing international organizations, and standards which can start to address these pressing issues. Moore will also discuss the ways in which trade unions are responding to the new workplace realities.
► Adrian Mengay (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena): Introducing a critique of the digitalization of work: questioning the new forms of performance management, measurement and work load compression within work 4.0
The digitalization of dependent labour comes along with a deconstruction of the classical concept of work. Parallel to the process of digitalization of work a reframing of work as performance is taking place. Performance management is becoming a central element for new digitalized forms of labour and is related to the control explosion of management. New forms of measurement and evaluation become possible and are embedded into software that generates not just the work output but also quantification of working subjects. The application of big data analytics to the wide field of data collection (employee, machine, sensors, software) contributes to an improvement in performance and enhances in many cases a workload compression. Adrian Mengay will discuss central aspects of performance management, measurement and workplace analytics with reference to examples from Microsoft Workplace Analytics (in MS Office 365) and others.
► Dr. Baruch Gottlieb (Telekommunisten): Much ado about technological unemployment. Tasks, jobs, work and socially necessary labour
As capitalism requires labour to extract profits, the scenario where increasing use of automation brings about massive technological unemployment is unlikely. Capitalism will never automate itself away. Robots may be coming for your job, but capitalism is sure to offer you another one, or two, though worse paid than before and with fewer protections. Contrary to the hopes of many marxists, automation does not free, it entangles. Labour movements have been disrupted by automation but new ones are emerging. This paper will endeavour some historical materialist analysis of prevalent industry 4.0 scenarios from the perspective of labour.
► Panel facilitation: Dr. Frank Engster (Helle Panke e.V. - Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Berlin)
The event will be in English, registration is not necessary.
Bild: Billion Photos / shutterstock.com