The future of Work

The new definition of the World of Work!

The world of work is dynamic. It is evolving rapidly. In which direction? “Precarity” (or precariousness) is the answer! And why this is happening? Because employers prefer “flexibility”, a word they have coined decades back. And what’s the views of the workers/employees? Well do they really have one? Trade unions have the right answers, but they are the minority here! So there is not only a gap between what employers offer and what employees give, but a divide between the expectations of the worker/employee and the demands of trade unions.

Flexibility or disguised word for total control?
Employers are investing quite a lot these days to make the relationship between the employee (and/or worker) and the employer more “open” and flexible. Now what does that mean in short? It simply means that the employer wants to take full control of everything in the world of work. Which means the right to recruit and manage work the way they want without hindrance. It is important to highlight the word “hindrance”! This includes giving orders, the power to sanction as it suits the employer, and the utmost power to dismiss as they wish, and of course without compensation. But this is just the visual tip of the iceberg! Everything else lies underneath. Yes the employer wants total control over the employee. And this is not new. However, it’s becoming easy these days as employees seem less conscious as to their work situation and their relationship with their employer.

Employer v/s Worker:
A good question to ask by the Mauritian employee/worker is: what is the difference? Is there any difference at all? Are these two words not the same thing? Well, no! They are not in law. In the Republic of Mauritius, “a person whose basic wage or salary is at a rate in excess of 360,000 rupees per annum” is not a worker by virtue of the Employment Rights Act 2008. There must be an agreement whether verbal or written. The worker or the employee hardly care about the difference which has a direct bearing on benefits and retirement, including dismissal and pensions.

Being a member of a Trade Union:
Today, as it was the case yesterday, workers’ rights have always been defended by trade unions. But how many workers/employees are members of trade unions today? Less than 16% in Mauritius. The mass of unionised workers/employees comes from the public sector, whilst the majority are in the private sector. The critical mass of unionised employed is going down and this is no good news for workers’ rights.

The new mentality:
The “millennials” form the mass of workers in the various sectors. It’s a new approach to life. The millennials have been schooled for decades and have no idea about the world of work they wish to join. Big dreams followed by high qualifications with poor knowledge of workers’ rights and the employment legislations, millennials are individualists and want everything instantaneously! They seem to take things for granted and believe that “others” must fight as the world of work problems concerns “others”! This allows corporates to lay emphasis on so many big words to keep the young people exploited.

The future of Work:
Undoubtedly, the future of work depends a lot on the new generation employees/workers. Sustainable development Goal #8: Decent work and economic growth aims at promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all”. Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, believes that “promoting jobs and enterprise, guaranteeing rights at work, extending social protection and promoting social dialogue are the four pillars of the ILO Decent Work Agenda with gender as a cross-cutting theme.” So the future of work lies a lot on the four imperatives ILO is focussing on. However the enforcement mechanism pass through trade unions.

Suraj Ray | 26.05.2018