Are Old Rules and Protections Enough?
In a world where Capital confronts Labour?
Sacha Garben has written an interesting article about how the status of EU online workers can be recognised in terms of ‘employed’ workers so they can access health and safety protections and improved working conditions instead of being described as ‘self employed’. In the ‘new world of work’, Garben writes, ‘the old rules and existing protections are usually the best tools.’
I am not convinced that tweaking the legal definition of ‘worker’ to include online platform workers will change the precarity of many online jobs, especially where online work is undertaken in the home. Women may well continue to be disadvantaged when combining online work with child care and the bulk of household chores. How are working conditions improved when the work space is the kitchen table, or the front room where the TV is always on? Online labour does not cease to be any less exploitative when the labour bearer’s status is redefined as a ‘worker’ who can access pre-existing protections under rules decided by highly paid mainly male policy makers.
Within the context of global capitalism all workers need to identify their common interests in order to overcome divisions created by capital, such as divisions based on race, age, disability and gender. Tweaking old rules and protections is not enough.