I have always loved my job. It largely defines me. I met my friends there, my loves, I blossomed there, I don’t see the day when I will leave it. I therefore watch with some bewilderment the upheavals that are shaking up the world of work these days.
Because the notion of work is having a bad time, and not only here. Did you see, last Thursday, the images of the demonstrations which brought together two million French people against the increase in the retirement age from 62 to 64 years? Even if the extension of the working life is necessary to ensure the future of future generations, the French are targeted in an epidermal way. Already 62 years, for them, it’s limit… And even more if the notion of arduousness is added to it, which characterizes according to them a large part of the jobs.
We can find them grumbling, but this very widely shared hatred in the Hexagon of working life does raise real questions. There is material here for in-depth reflection on the place of the value of work.
In recent years, the very nature of work has been disrupted and upset our traditional benchmarks. The pandemic will have acted as a catalyst. Work has seen its codes shaken. Several phenomena, put together, scream at us that things are not going well in the world of work. And not only from an economic point of view, but also moral and societal.
There is the work of the very young, subscribers to work accidents, to studies with medium-term disabilities, with choices that are not; it is rather among the less affluent that children work 25 hours at 12 years of age.
There is the work of seniors, increasingly necessary, both for them to make ends meet and for the companies that employ them, but still poorly favored by taxation.
There is the TSO, compulsory overtime for nurses, a system literally based on the physical and mental exhaustion of workers, on which the functioning of the hospital system is based, at the risk of patients and workers themselves.
There is the work that we no longer want to do, that we “relocate” from the inside by dominating it to immigrants in precarious situations: beneficiary attendants, agricultural workers, maintenance staff, workers in gloomy factories, backbreaking jobs and invisible. A real network of inexpensive and essential workers that puts us face to face with our contradictions: we are wary of mass immigration, of Roxham Road, but are so happy that the system is working, that strawberries are picked, that the floors are clean , that the baths are given to the old in the RPA…
There are the new generations who are redefining the terms of work, who no longer accept its traditional contours, who no longer want it at the center of their lives, and who are no longer attached to a job or an employer.
There is telecommuting, which will go so far as to physically modify the heart of cities, which improves the quality of life of those who benefit from it, but which unravels the real links essential to employment, and which undermines corporate culture.
There are missing, missing workers in all areas of economic life, from waiters to civil servants, from teachers to airplane pilots. We have only just begun to measure the impact and the causes of these series withdrawals. Demographic, generational, philosophical; the reasons are complex and numerous. There are those who ghostent their jobs from one day to the next, those who practice quiet quittinginvesting themselves to the very strict minimum in their work, all those who say ” f… you, work ! »
Work is being questioned by more and more groups in society, and rightly so. He has a few qualities, however… He is, for example, what gave wings to the women of previous generations, opened the doors to economic independence for them. It is a springboard for the host society of many immigrants, an environment conducive to development. Work is even a story of passion for many people, yes!
But the work today has a bad press. He is the canary in the mine, warning us that something is changing visibly in our society. I don’t know if French President Emmanuel Macron will win his bet to push back the retirement age, but there’s something a lot deeper than grumpy French folklore at play here. It is about our overall and future relationship to work.
We have to “work on it”, as Justin would say…