responses to computerized control in US and Australian grocery warehousing Christopher Wright and John Lund In contrast to optimistic interpretations of contemporary work reorganisation, the example of computerised work monitoring in US and Australian grocery warehousing highlights a far more negative picture of work intensification, job stress and low trust relations. Despite significant variation in trade union response, the article argues such examples reinforce the need for strong and independent trade union regulation to limit the worst excesses of workplace rationalisation.
The workplace implications of new computerized technologies and job redesign has been the subject of significant debate. Despite critiques of the potential control implications of such technologies, an alternative and far more optimistic interpretation of new workplace technologies has developed, based upon increasing employee involvement and ‘high trust’ employment relations. Examples of such a view have varied from post-Fordist visions of socio-technical work reorganisation, to the recent advocacy for ‘high involvement’ or ‘best practice’ models of workplace governance which emphasise increased trust and commitment between employers and employees.
What role trade unions should play in this process has at best appeared ambiguous. Human resource management and some elements of post-Fordist writing for example see little necessary role for trade unionism in the ‘new’ participatory workplace. In contrast, other writers have argued that current attempts at work reorganisation and the introduction of new workplace technologies provide unions with new opportunities for improving the quality of working life in areas such as training and employee participation. Here it is argued, a shift towards ‘cooperative accommodation’ between unions and management is possible given the increasing common interest brought about by new production concepts. Trade unionsunder... [continues]
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