In his blog “Stories of an officeless,” José Antonio Galas today published a post on how a 2.0 worker could look like.: http://sinoficina.wordpress.com/2009/07/16/trabajadores-2-0/
His ideas brought me to mind a recent conversation with the HR director of an automotive company. He said that the labor reform so much needed in Spain was not in the direction of the Emplyer’s Association (CEOE) proposals. The CEOE demands lower wages, cheaper dismissal and more precarious ( “flexible”) jobs.
Labor reform, as my partner stated, should aim to change the company-employee relationship for a client-supplier relationship. The first time I listened to this idea it was six years ago by a financial manager, and I thought it was almost a crime. Of course, at that time I was an employee; when I heard the idea all sorts of defense mechanisms emerged in order to protect my “security” (security, what a fallacy). Without any doubt, the employment relationship is a social achievement as well as a successful strategy of Henry Ford. It has many advantages and has allowed the rise of a high skilled and consuming professional middle class in Europe, the U.S. and Japan.
Yet, the current crisis is a good time to consider whether this model is adequate or whether it can co-exist with various kinds of production/service relationship. For liberal professions such as lawyers and doctors, commercial relationships have been usual practice ever since. The main disadvantage of a business relationship based model for companies is the lack of control over work processes. The risk to workers would be the return to the 18th and 19th century like conditions. Nobody wants really myriads of unprotected workers to offer their services in an environment of strong competition as weak suppliers against powerful corporations. But it is worth reflecting on how a client-supplier relationship that is not purely commercial could look like; for sure it had to have elements of protection and commitment, but it should also be flexible to strong demand fluctuations. TO BE CONTINUED …