Like any technological revolution, the digital transition has profound social implications for the politics and the future of work. In particular, digital technology acts as a wealth and power multiplier for the owners of capital and the highly skilled. Creating a ‘winner takes all economy’. This has weakened labour versus capital, which explains why productivity increases have failed to increase workers’ wages or reduce their working hours. The unbundling and outsourcing of jobs and their increasing precariousness started in the 80s. However, these trends have been facilitated and accelerated by digital technology.
Platform work in the gig economy has created a new precariat with low wages, sometimes below the minimum wage, and a lack of social security. Riders and other service providers often face unacceptable health and safety risks that are being created, partly through algorithmic management systems that push to and over the limit. These practices that started within the platform economy are now moving from the apps to the more traditional sectors and are currently being deployed on work floor of warehouses and in the telecommunications sector.
To contribute to the discussion on how to shape the future of work humanely and socially just, FEPS investigates the trends and developments in the labour market that naturally flow from the digital transition.