Companies don't give a shit

October 28, 2016

Companies don’t give a shit about anything except their shareholders. This is the take home message from a recent article from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, called “The future of work: how you can ride the wave of change”.

According to Professor Peter Cappelli, the biggest impact on the future of work is not automation and outsourcing of jobs, but an ideological change “from the idea that business has a responsibility to all stakeholders to the idea that they have responsibility only to one — shareholders”.

He foresees no “fundamental change in the workplace beyond what we are already seeing, which is the continued efforts by employers to get labour cheaper in all kinds of ways without worrying much about the consequences.”

The article argues there are more powerful forces at play than the popular notion that technology and globalisation are the main threats to jobs.

According to Wharton management professor Matthew Bidwell: “the working class has not had a good 30 or 40 years in the US and the UK. The destruction of the minimum wage and destruction of the unions played a role.”

This is a remarkable article from Wharton, which is renowned for producing MBA graduates who take on leadership roles in some of the most rotten multinationals in capitalism. Unfortunately, the article fails to provide any solutions other than an “economic gardening movement”, which is aimed at helping promising businesses grow to the next level.

Sorry, but we know all too well what a company does if it is handed more money. It simply finds better ways to make a bigger profit, usually through redundancies or wage cuts.

This has been the situation in Australia for the past 40 years, where neoliberal attacks against workers and their unions are coupled with corporate welfare for big business.

A Roy Morgan Research article showed that in September 2.1 million Australians — 16.2% of the workforce — were either unemployed or underemployed. This is an increase of 109,000 from the previous year and shows figures that are substantially higher than the ABS figure of 5.6%.

The article explains: “The Australian workforce increased to 12,930,000 (up 166,000 since September 2015), but total employment only increased to 11,829,000 (up 123,000) — this shows there have not been enough new full-time jobs created over the past year to soak up the growing number of people looking for work.”

Based on recent ABS statistics, there are about 19 job seekers for every job. Furthermore, most of the jobs that are available are likely to be part-time jobs, meaning that people will still be looking for more hours to work to make ends meet.

This raises many issues, but in particular, it smashes the argument that people are unemployed because they are lazy dole bludgers. These statistics show that we have an unemployment crisis that needs to be addressed at many levels, including by increased social security support and implementing education and government strategies to increase employment.

Ultimately, the only way to ensure a secure future for jobs is to replace the whole capitalist system with one in which human need is prioritised above corporate profits.

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