With the lockdown over, and employees being forced back to work in unsafe conditions, the bosses are deploying every conceivable trick in order to boost their profits. Workers must organise, take action, and fight for workers’ control.
The capitalist class is pioneering new methods of surveillance as a means to extract more profit from the working class.
With hundreds of thousands of workers laid off during the COVID pandemic, remaining ‘post-COVID’ workers are being squeezed more and more in an attempt to retain profitability.
This again reveals the bosses’ cynical and contemptuous attitude towards their workforces. The fat cats are only interested in maintaining dividend payouts and the huge salaries and perks currently enjoyed by top management.
Meanwhile, their workers – those who have had to bear the brunt of the effects of the pandemic – are squeezed ever further.
Employers have in many cases forced their workers back into the factories, storage facilities, and offices in order to keep the profits rolling in. Their reward? To be pushed even harder, using every dubious method available to hand.
To give one particularly stark example, Wales TUC and YouGov research has shown that 25% of workers surveyed in Wales say that they have been subjected to closer surveillance since March 2020.
In response to this report, Member of the Senedd for Bridgend Sarah Murphy has warned that the increase in workplace surveillance risks “breaking down the necessary respect between workers and employers”.
But increased surveillance does not indicate any recent breakdown of respect between employer and employee. After all, in what workplaces has such respect ever genuinely existed?
The motivation for these latest developments is a simple one: the capitalist system’s blind pursuit of profit.
With the economy reopening across Britain, the bosses are desperately searching for the means to restore profitability at the expense of ordinary workers.
On one hand, employers are laying off workers across the board. According to Statistics for Wales, between September and November of last year, 16,000 workers were made redundant in Wales. This is the highest redundancy level in Wales since the banking crisis of 2008.
On the other hand, bosses are forcing those who remain to pick up the slack by implementing threatening surveillance systems. In interviews with over 10 different trade unions, a Cardiff University study found that surveillance has often included the “tracking and logging [of] workers’ every move via wristbands”.
In what seems to be a direct mimicry of conditions at Amazon warehouses in the United States, employers are using systems to force “drivers to have to urinate in bottles because an algorithm has set them an impossible number of deliveries”.
Such is the ‘respect’ given to workers whose lives have been put at risk throughout the pandemic by profit-hungry bosses.
The call cannot be for a restoration of ‘respect’ between workers and employers – i.e. between the exploiters and exploited. After all, you can’t call for the return of something that never existed in the first place, nor should exist.
No amount of pleading and appealing to the morality of the rich and powerful can achieve ‘respect’ in the workplace. The capitalist class will never grant a single concession by their own will. Instead, the bosses must be taken on and defeated.
The only way to obtain respect for the working class is to fight for the victory of that class. Workers can look to nobody’s strength other than their own.
Workers must fight back against these repressive surveillance systems through organisation and united action, taking control over workplaces into their own hands, and wrestling power off the bosses.
In place of capitalism’s race to the bottom, we need a socialist economy based on democratic planning and workers’ control – a society based on needs not profits.