cj#321> Schniad: Govt & Corps (3/3)


Richard Moore

Date: Mon, 13 Nov 1995
From: Phil Agre <•••@••.•••>
To: •••@••.•••
Subject: editorial by Sid Shniad

Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995
From: D Shniad <•••@••.•••>
Subject: My editorial in the TWU Transmitter



   Thirty-five million people are out of work in
the countries which comprise the Organization for
Economic Co-operation and Development.  Free
trade, privatization, de-regulation and other
factors have clearly contributed to the mess the
world is in.  But there is an additional factor at
work, as well: computerization is bringing
fundamental changes to the workplace.
   In recent months, considerable attention has
been focused on The End of Work, a new book by
American researcher Jeremy Rifkin.  In this work,
Rifkin describes how the application of computer
technology is destroying jobs in every sector of
the economy.  It is his view that if current
trends continue, blue collar manufacturing jobs
will be totally eliminated by the year 2020.
   Rifkin believes that society is on the verge
of a radically new and different era.  In the
past, when new technologies destroyed jobs in the
farm sector, the negative effect on jobs was
counteracted by the expansion of employment in the
manufacturing sector.  Later, when new
technologies caused the decline of employment in
manufacturing, this was offset by sharp growth in
the service sector.  Now, however, the same
technologies that have been applied in agriculture
and manufacturing are being applied to services.
But there is no new sector waiting in the wings to
provide employment for the folks who are being
   In light of Rifkin's thesis, is it any wonder
that the unemployment rate remains so high in a
time of economic "recovery"?
   Despite the deepening economic and social
crisis the world is experiencing today and despite
the high level of corporate profits, businesses
are using re-engineering and computerization to
downsize their operations and lay off thousands of
employees.  The goal is to increase profits even
   Full time jobs are becoming a thing of the
past.  Those jobs that are being created are of a
part time and temporary nature.  And employers are
forcing employees who are already overworked to
work unprecedented amounts of overtime.  This,
instead of creating new jobs to help reduce
   Something has got to give.  Either we buy into
the view expressed by Professor Angell and others
that society can only continue in a downward
social spiral.  Or we begin insisting that
corporations share the benefits generated by the
application of these new technologies with the
rest of society.


   Greedy, powerful corporations will not
suddenly turn over a new leaf.  To achieve the
kind of changes that are needed will require the
active involvement of governments.  Despite the
corporate views that prevail in the media and the
universities, governments can influence the
behaviour of even the biggest corporations.  What
is lacking is the political will to exert this
   This is where unions, community groups and
other popular sector organizations come in.  We
face two tasks: first, to come up with sound
social alternatives to these disastrous corporate
policies; and second, to work with sympathetic
governments, encouraging them to use their power
to make these alternatives a reality.
   We know from our own experience that this
approach can work.  Three years ago, the CRTC
approved the introduction of long distance
competition.  The TWU didn't buy the idea that
disaster would inevitably follow as it has in the
American telecommunications sector.
   Consulting with industry experts and a range
of social organizations and doing our own
research, we designed an alternate strategy to
head off the slash and burn scenario that is
tearing apart the telecommunications industry in
the U.S.  Then we worked long and hard with the
provincial government in Victoria to bring our
plan to life.  The accompanying story on the
pending provincial Telecommunications Accord
explains where we're at right now.
   It should be emphasized that the TWU isn't
alone in calling for government to play an active
role in shaping the economy of the future.
Canadian Labour Congress Executive Vice President
Jean Claude Parrot was the lone labour member on
the federal government's Information Highway
Advisory Council.  When Parrot realized that the
corporate/free market perspective would dominate
the Council's final report, he filed a Minority
Report detailing what government should be doing
to counteract the negative effects of what is
happening in the de-regulated telecommunications
   What Parrot is advocating is essential to the
future of the labour movement.  By generating
their own alternatives and enlisting the help of
enlightened governments, unions and other
organizations in the social sector can begin
repairing the damage that has been done by free
trade, globalization, privatization, de-regulation
and the corporate misuse of computer technologies.
   It's time to get on with the job. There is too
much suffering already. If the assault from the
corporate sector continues unchallenged, the
nightmare can only get worse.



 Posted by      Richard K. Moore <•••@••.•••>
                Wexford, Ireland (USA citizen)
                Editor: The Cyberjournal (@CPSR.ORG)

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