Smartworking, the state and unions should protect those who work remotely


It was perhaps not necessary to wait for the health emergency to realize how much technology is changing the way we work. The promotion of the smart working however, it is accelerating the process underway, which sees as always the pioneering companies in the use of technology to experiment with new working techniques, obviously to get the maximum profit in terms of productivity and cost reduction.

I spoke about it the day before yesterday in live streaming with the lawyer Ernesto Maria Cirillo – active for almost twenty years in the field of labor and labor disputes – which with a good dose of optimism invites everyone to think about the opportunity offered since we are living. In particular, he invites us to reflect on how, in certain circumstances, smart working, but also the I work part time.

Convenience depends on a series of circumstances, primarily by saving in terms of transport costs to go to the office or in terms of cost in the case of using a babysitter. His speech is actually much deeper, because it aims to imagine a world where everyone can have it more time available to live one’s life beyond work, improving its quality.

It is obvious that this is only possible if the transition to these working methods is done by guaranteeing maximum results protections possible for workers, primarily those relating to the maintenance of wage levels. At this point, however, we must ask ourselves how it is possible to negotiate with companies to avoid that in their view this does not translate into one lost in terms of higher costs.

Here the trade union and the state. The union should find the best method to collectively negotiate the conditions under which this transformation must take place, being very careful to prevent this from happening at the individual company level, thus placing stakes at the level of bargaining national. Otherwise, the risk is that workers will suffer the choices of the local entrepreneur, without any possibility of being able to seriously contract as a result of the atomisation of union power.

The state should also think about how to put basic regulation of the phenomenon. But he has to do it with full knowledge, carefully studying the variables in the field. The bargaining between companies and unions, however, remains the preferential channel for reaching a good compromise.

Of course, then we can, indeed we must, think about how to question a capitalist system that we do not like because unbalanced in favor of businesses, and this explains the growth of the inequality much discussed. But this does not exclude that today we can deal with how to prevent an opportunity offered to businesses from translating into stress, reduction of wages and “remote” exploitation.

Because the alternative is to undergo the evolution of events, as happened to call center operators in the early 2000s, when technological progress had allowed forms of exploitation previously unthinkable, like the pay of a few cents per call – with the famous then on a project – who had created an army of “poor” workers in the name of flexibility.

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