3 Jul 2015
Work in the Economic Crisis
Isn’t that a tautology? Is the current crisis something greater than a labour crisis? What seems clear today is that we, collectively, have largely overweighted the financial dimension of this crisis. If this were a financial bubble, like in 2000, the bubble would have burst, and we would be back on the path toward fast growth. This is not the case. The crisis we are experiencing can more logically be likened to a labour crisis. A crisis concerning the quantity of work. Developed countries being deindustrialised. Entire sectors being impoverished. Entire regions undergoing desertification. Entire generations facing unemployment. But today’s crisis is also a crisis concerning the quality of work. Massive disqualifications. Major dysfunctions in how work is organised. An increasingly widespread phenomenon of labour-related discontent. An instability that is gaining ground every day. Fortunately, all crises generate new growth. The word «crisis» itself comes from the Greek «krisis», which means «sieve» or «sifter», a filter from which there are as many –or more– «good seeds» that pass through as there are «bad» ones eliminated. The crisis is thus also a promise for the Labour factor. Quantitatively, never have so many new trades called for new training. Never have so many once «underdeveloped» countries emerged with tens of millions of jobs in tow. Never have new technologies created jobs. Qualitatively, never have there been so many bridges between comparable qualifications. Never has there been so many professional promotions. Never have new technologies offered so many opportunities for work, adapted to the constraints of the «modern» world. Many instructive discussions lie between us and our way out of the crisis. At least four of them seem major: the price of labour, instability, labour policies, and workplace wellness. A sieve or sifter works only if its mesh is calibrated and clean.
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