Job-related suffering

Mittwoch, 17. September 2014 - 23:39

Laurent Vogel, 2014-09-17

Job-related suffering is not a new phenomenon. Yet, whereas painful manifestations used traditionally to be associated with manual labour, symptoms of malaise have become more widespread and are now found, in extremely individualised forms, among all occupational categories and in all fields of work. This development is testimony to the emergence, within new forms of work organisation, of unprecedented types of contradiction that give rise to new difficulties – while at the same time they open up new avenues for action.

In this paper we will first of all consider the changes in work organisation and the ways in which they lead to an individualisation of the work relationship. We will refer also to the fact that the greater the degree of isolation in which an employee carries out his work, the harder it will be for him to put into words the work-related problems with which he has to contend. This stress on isolation will enable us to home in on the highly negative consequences – at the individual as well as the collective level – of the difficulty experienced by employees in giving expression to and defending the standards and values that underpin their commitment to the work they do. In conclusion we will describe some ‘research-actions’ illustrative of the potential contribution of trade unions in reconstructing a collective capacity for expression and assertion of the authority conferred by the experience gained through work.

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