3 October 2019

David Peetz’s new book, The Realities and Futures of Work, is an engaging and thorough overview of existing and likely future working arrangements, and a well-grounded argument for reform: “The danger technology poses to workers through increased algorithmic management and ‘not there’ employment is arguably greater than the danger of technological job loss. Much of that must be addressed by broader social and economic policies… but some relates to the specific workplace factors that influence workers’ power. There are changes in several countries needed to the legal and institutional framework for bargaining that affect workers’ ability to gain from higher productivity… these include enabling multiemployer bargaining, reforming procedures for terminating agreements and industrial action, and indeed reforming the concept of the right to take collective action. … In all countries, core capital — be it in the form of franchisors, large brand names or head contractors — needs to be held accountable for underpayment of labour or other law-breaking within the chain. Neither employment law nor competition law should obstruct labour from bargaining with entities other than the direct employer, since ‘not there’ employment is often used not just to reduce pay and conditions but as a ruse to prevent adequate bargaining.” (It’s available as a free download thanks to ANU Press.)