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Dublin Opinion >>
Capitalists Find New Ways to Exploit Working People and Undermine Job Security
IBM launches new form of day-wage labour
Since approximately the early 1980s Capitalism has been on the offensive to attack working conditions and take away the hard won labour rights of the previous century or so.
In those years we have seen manufacturing jobs move offshore and increasing amounts of temporary and part-time jobs which have less rights than full time jobs.
We have seen multi-national and chain stores declare bankruptcy to allow these firms to walk away from their healthcare and pension obligations, only to re-open the following week.
But yet this is not good enough and the capitalists and because of the logic of capitalism itself, as usual never give up and have their sights firmly set on things like decent wages, holiday pay, sick pay, pensions and health-cover.
And leading the latest innovation in exploition is IBM Germany with their new programme called, "liquid" and reported in an article titled 'IBM launches new form of day-wage labour' on the www.wsws.org website.
In this programme, IBM Germany are rolling out a radical reorganization of their workforce where of the more than 20,000 employees in Germany, at least 8,000 will lose their permanent jobs and be replaced by flexible external workers.
The general idea is to reduce their workforce to a much smaller core and for the bulk of the workers made up of IT experts and other specialists to be hired externally and much more flexibly. They are essentially aiming to hire them on a per day and or per project basis. This would all be orchastrated through a website which will streamline the whole process, but crucially this will be a worldwide operation since these workers will most likely be working remotely. Hence it the same conditions will apply worldwide and you can be sure that the standard will be set at the lowest bar.
What is important about this is that it can and will be easily be deployed to all other companies, not just in the IT industry but across the board. It is not hard to see this ne model sweeping the board and becoming the norm everywhere within the next few years.
It is worth quoting some of the above report here. It opens with:
IBM (International Business Machines) was once considered a pioneer in the field of computer technology. Now the US-based conglomerate—employing more than 400,000 people worldwide—is a pioneer of a modern form of global day-wage labour. And Germany is serving as a pilot project for a radical reorganization of its existing work structures around the world.
It goes on and this is where it gets interesting and frightening, considering this is going to be the new norm everywhere in no time at all.
The programme, called 'liquid,' provides for outside workers to be hired flexibly as required. The hiring of external IT experts and other specialists is to take place via a specially created Internet platform, in the form of a so-called Cloud.
Up to now, the IT industry has regarded the Cloud as the delivery of computing as a service, with the infrastructure, hardware and software existing on internationally networked servers, effectively invisible to the user, hence, 'in the Cloud.' Access is usually via the Internet. The purpose of cloud solutions is to lower costs, because resources are ready at any time, but only paid for as they are used at the time needed.
This model is now to be applied broadly to people. Those currently employed as permanent staff by IBM will in future become free-lancers in an international 'talent cloud.' To be part of this cloud they will have to obtain quality assurance certification as specified by IBM. It will not just be IBM, but also other businesses that will access this human cloud.
(Der) Spiegel compares the "talent-Cloud" with Facebook. As in social networks, the profiles of IT professionals -including scores ("Likeability") and references from previous employers-- will be visible for interested companies.
Positive scores -including the timely payment of credit card bills- and self-financed training courses at IBM would increase the "digital reputation" of an IT specialist.
"Personnel organised in a ‘cloud,’" the magazine quotes from the IBM document, "would receive international employment contracts, in order to circumvent restrictive regulations in their home country." The "globalized employment contracts" would only last for the duration of individual projects. Thus, the company would reach a state "achieved long ago by the financial markets": it could "do away with part of the national regulations."
The ABOVE PARAGRAPH can't be emphasised strongly enough as to what this will do. It will totally wipe out the last remaining gains achieved over since the Industrial Revolution.
The report continues:
Permanent employees—with social security protection, guaranteed salary, paid vacations and sick leave, etc. -would be transformed into modern day-wage labourers, hired just for one project or contract for a limited time, sometimes by one firm and sometimes by another. "Such a system, where workers compete globally for temporary jobs using Internet platforms," comments Spiegel, means, "companies such as IBM would make huge savings and increase efficiency significantly."
The rest of the report goes on to detail how in the past 5 years the number of people employed through agencies in Germany has risen dramatically as these are another weapon in the arsnel of exploitating workers.
Meanwhile, the sort of employment conditions in the retail sector are being extended to manufacturing. According to a survey conducted by the IG Metall union, more than 70 percent of companies in the electrical and metal industry in Baden-Württemberg now use such contracts, replacing the core permanent workforce in more than half of all factories.
At the BMW plant in Leipzig, half of the 5,000 workers are employed via external agencies. A total of 26 service providers are active at the plant. Their employees are substantially worse off than the usual temporary labour, who must still be paid the minimum wage.
Full report at the URL below.