Journal of Emancipation | FR | ES

Precarization

Marxist Dictionary

Global trend towards the development of exploitation in absolute terms by reshaping and restructuring the organization of work, thus decoupling the worker from workplaces and equipment, basic services, recruitment expectations and stable income.

Forms and elements

  1. Temporalization. Reduction of the duration of labor contracts that breaks with the organization of the workforce in teams and stable locations.
  2. Partialization. Reduction of individual working hours, usually below the minimum necessary income.
  3. Uberization. End of the contractual bond between workers and capital, return to the piecework system in which the employer pays only for the unit of work or service actually delivered. Now mediated by a computer application that further invisibilizes the collective character of work and the very existence of the employer who claims only to “unite supply and demand”.
  4. Outsourcing. Fracture of the production chain in different contracts with different intermediaries in charge of managing the work in each task, with the freedom to increase exploitation in absolute terms in each of them.
  5. Disqualification. The drop in wages in absolute terms does not allow the reproduction of the workforce at the worker’s original skill level.
  6. Lack of protection. Reduction and disqualification of the social security, pensions, unemployment, health and access to education coverage managed by the state and the mutual, non-monetary part of the salary received.

Consequences for the working class’ way of life

  • Workers no longer have a defined “job” or “workplace”, but several employers who hire them for specific tasks, short periods or in any case of unpredictable duration, on an hourly or piece-rate basis. In their experience, the relationship with a stable group of colleagues and with an always equal space (the factory, the workshop, the office) disappears.
  • Nor are operating relations with a single company, with a single employer. They are mediated by intermediaries who “send” you to different destinations in such a way as to make it clear that the “precarious” are exploited by the bourgeoisie and capitalism as a whole.
  • The reproduction of labor power becomes precarious as well. Access to health services, accident benefits, housing, etc. are eroded to the point of disappearance in many cases.

As a result, the way in which workers relate to each other and the way in which collective conversations and reflections on one’s own situation take place also change. They no longer have a company or factory reference, nor do they have a very strict, geographical sense. And yet support and solidarity networks are formed as often as before.