Fulfilling the 'British Way': beyond constrained choice - Amazon workers' lived experiences of workfare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This article makes a distinctive contribution to critiquing the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices (TRMWP). Rejecting TRMWP’s abstracted concept of 'choice' and its celebration of the 'British way' of job creation, it emphasises the degree of compulsion experienced by low-pay, temporary workers in local labour markets. The empirical focus is on Amazon’s ‘fulfilment centre’ at Swansea and draws on testimonies of 'associates', both permanent and, mostly, agency temps including migrant workers. The article situates these worker experiences in job-starved labour markets, considering the role of temporary worker agencies (TWAs) and the effects of workfare and benefit sanctions. The evidence compels a reconceptualization of the triangular relationship between TWAs, employers and temp workers as quadrilateral, emphasising the role of the state. A brutal, digitally-enabled lean workplace regime intersects with a brutal, digitally-enabled workfare regime which serves to thoroughly critique Taylor’s absurdly optimistic characterisation of choice.
LanguageEnglish
Pages438-458
Number of pages21
JournalIndustrial Relations Journal
Volume49
Issue number5-6
Early online date7 Nov 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2018

Fingerprint

temporary worker
workfare
worker
labor market
regime
compulsion
job creation
experience
migrant worker
testimony
sanction
employer
workplace
evidence
Workfare
Workers
Temporary workers
Amazon
Working practices

Keywords

  • Amazon
  • workfare
  • sanctions
  • Wacquant
  • Taylor review
  • coercion
  • temporary work

Cite this

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abstract = "This article makes a distinctive contribution to critiquing the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices (TRMWP). Rejecting TRMWP’s abstracted concept of 'choice' and its celebration of the 'British way' of job creation, it emphasises the degree of compulsion experienced by low-pay, temporary workers in local labour markets. The empirical focus is on Amazon’s ‘fulfilment centre’ at Swansea and draws on testimonies of 'associates', both permanent and, mostly, agency temps including migrant workers. The article situates these worker experiences in job-starved labour markets, considering the role of temporary worker agencies (TWAs) and the effects of workfare and benefit sanctions. The evidence compels a reconceptualization of the triangular relationship between TWAs, employers and temp workers as quadrilateral, emphasising the role of the state. A brutal, digitally-enabled lean workplace regime intersects with a brutal, digitally-enabled workfare regime which serves to thoroughly critique Taylor’s absurdly optimistic characterisation of choice.",
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