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打破你工作安全感的“零工经济”是什么?

更新时间:2017-10-16 19:07:27 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

How the gig economy creates job insecurity
打破你工作安全感的“零工经济”是什么?

The claim that the Inuit have 50 words for snow may be apocryphal, but it neatly illustrates the truism that our vocabulary becomes more extensive and nuanced for phenomena we encounter frequently.

据说,生活在北美洲严寒地区的因纽特人(Inuit)有50个单词来描述雪,这可能纯属虚构,但却巧妙地说明了一个不言而喻的道理:对于我们在日常生活中频繁碰到的现象,我们有更多、更丰富、更细致入微的词语来表述。

The bog-standard job of the 20th Century was formal, full-time and permanent. Recently the lexicon for other kinds of jobs has expanded. Work can be temporary, fixed-term, seasonal, project-based, part-time, on a zero-hours contract, casual, agency, freelance, peripheral, contingent, external, non-standard, atypical, platform-based, outsourced, sub-contracted, informal, undeclared, insecure, marginal or precarious.

20世纪常见的工作都是正式的全职工作,而且都很长久。最近几年,与其他类型的工作有关的词汇越来越多。现在的工作可以是临时的、定期的、季节性的、以项目为基础的、兼职的、签订零时合同的、非正式的、代理的、自由职业的、外围的、偶然的、外部的、非典型的、以平台为基础的、外包的、分包的、非正式的、未申报的、无保障的、边缘的或不稳定的。

“Self-entrepreneurs” now do “Uber-jobs” – a term that arose (mimicking the earlier pejorative term “McJobs” for low pay/quality work) to describe the use of workers who are technically self-employed in the gig economy. The atypical job is no longer quite so atypical. Insecure work has become an important phenomenon.

当年的"个体户"现在都干起了"Uber-job"——这个词模仿了"McJob"(低薪、低品质的工作)的构词法,专门描述通过零工经济(gig economy)给自己打工的人所从事的工作。这种非典型工作已经不再那么不合常规。没有保障的工作已经成为一个重要现象。

Employment is a field where predictions of the future have been reliable, because the trends have been clear for some time now that growth in insecure employment has reached a point to become a subject of study. In the 1990s, management guru Charles Handy talked about the organisation of the future having a clover leaf design, with three kinds of human resource: full-time employees, casual staff and outsourced workers.

在就业领域,对未来的预测向来都很可靠,原因在于趋势已经明朗了一段时间,而没有保障的工作也已经发展到一定程度,甚至成为了许多学者的研究对象。20世纪90年代,管理大师查尔斯·汉迪(Charles Handy)提到未来的组织将会采用三叶草模式,总共使用三种人力资源:全职雇员、兼职人员和外包工人。

This threefold division was echoed in economist Will Hutton’s darker prediction of a society in which 30% of people were disadvantaged and marginalised, 30% led insecure lives and 40% were privileged.

这与经济学家维尔·胡顿(Will Hutton)的悲观预测不谋而合。他预计,今后的社会将有30%的弱势群体和边缘人士,30%过着没有保障的生活,还有40%属于特权阶级。

Visions of 21st-Century careers

21世纪就业愿景

Careers at the start of the 21st Century, we were told, would become “boundaryless” (hopping from project to project, not limited to one organisation), “portfolio” (multiple parallel jobs with multiple employers), and “protean” (with shapeshifting workers reinventing themselves as required).

之前就有一种说法:21世纪初的职业特点是"无边界"(在不同项目之间切换,而不局限在一家组织)、"组合化"(同时为多个雇主从事多项工作)和"多变性"(懂得转型的劳动者按照要求改变自己)。

Careers experts began to argue that the workers of the future needed to be ultra-flexible. Say goodbye to the job for life. Learn career management skills to dance nimbly to the tune of the new labour market. But this prescribed wisdom is problematic for four reasons.

现在开始有职场专家表示,未来的劳动者需要保持极高的灵活性。跟终身职业说再见。今后必须要学会职业管理技巧,以便敏捷地适应新型劳动力市场的基调。这种所谓的明智做法也会产生问题,主要源自四个原因:

First, job insecurity is has always existed; it was once the historical norm. The construction industry has always been project-based and seasonal like agriculture; seafarers were traditionally hired for a voyage. The entertainment industry was literally the “gig economy”. These are among the industries that routinely discarded workers when the job was done.

第一,职业不安全感始终存在,它曾经是历史的常态。建筑行业一直都以项目为基础,而且像农业一样存在季节性;海员历来都是被雇来参加远航的;娱乐行业本来就是"零工经济"。按照惯例,这些行业都会在工作完成后解雇员工。

What is new is the extension of insecure work into industries where it was not previously common. This has been facilitated by new technology and the widespread use of contractual arrangements that seek to limit workers’ rights.

新出现的现象是没有保障的工作延伸到原本很少存在这种现象的行业。之所以会有这种现象,一方面是因为新科技的涌现,另一方面则是因为企业广泛使用了限制劳动者权益的合同。

Second, the vision of a brave new world of portfolio, boundaryless, and protean careers was intended for professionals who could sell high-value parcels of work. It suits those with enough economic confidence to fly without the safety net of a regular income. These ideas were not dreamed up for the bicycle courier, the taxi driver or the peripatetic care worker, and certainly not for those trapped in a low-pay, no-pay cycle.

第二,无边界、组合化、多变性的职业,引发了人们对美丽新世界的畅想。这是给那些拥有高附加值的专业人士准备的。这样的世界很适合那些在经济上有足够的自信,不必非要通过定期收入来构建安全网的人。单车速递员、出租车司机或四处找活儿的护工显然并不热衷于这种模式,那些在收入上朝不保夕的人同样如此。

Third, the career management rhetoric lost sight of the distinction between is and should. Growth in atypical working patterns does not imply a moral imperative that workers should facilitate this development by shaping themselves into the desired mould. Particularly where some employers might be seeking to offload responsibility for sick pay, holiday pay, and travel between jobs.

第三,职业管理在修辞上并没有注意到"是"和"应该"之间的差异。非典型工作模式的增长并不表明劳动者应该肩负一份道德责任,也不表示他们应该通过把自己塑造成这种期望的模式来促进这种发展。尤其是当有些雇主不想承担病假工资、休假工资和出差费用时。

Flexibility in human resources allows employers to scale operations up and down rapidly, and with minimal cost. This is not just about keeping wage bills down, but also about employers reducing levels of economic risk, while workers increase their share of risk bearing. The challenge of global competition may be inevitable, but an unquestioning compliance with employer regimes for sharing wealth and risk is not.

人力资源上的灵活性让雇主可以迅速扩大或缩减业务规模,并将这一过程中的成本降到最低。这不仅仅是为了压低工资,还是为了帮助雇主降低经济风险,同时加大劳动者承担的风险。全球化竞争所带来的挑战或许不可避免,但却不能无条件地遵守雇主制定的财富共享和风险共担制度。

Finally, new technology facilitates rapid allocation of work tasks. At the same time it can dismantle jobs into discrete micro-tasks for which labour can be bought and sold remotely. In doing so it may have the side effect of de-personalising the relationship between worker and supervisor and removing workers from social interaction with their fellow staff. A lifestyle of isolated and isolating tasks make it harder to forge a strong sense of social identity.

最后,新技术促进了工作任务的快速分配。与此同时,它可以将工作分解为离散的微任务,实现劳动力的远程买卖。这样做可能会产生副作用,导致员工与主管之间的关系失去人情味,还会消除员工与同事之间的社交互动。孤立的生活方式和孤立的任务令人们更加难以形成强烈的社会认同感。

Insecurity in the UK

英国的不安全感

The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices is intended to signal that the UK government has woken up and smelled the coffee. It advocates the introduction of a new “dependent contractor” status for workers, but for the most part its recommendations are timid. Recently, the gig economy’s biggest fish, Uber and Deliveroo, were taken to task by MPs. But so far it has been in employment law disputes, and not in Whitehall, that things have moved on.

《泰勒现代工作实践评估》(Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices)旨在表明英国政府已经清醒过来,看清了事情的本质。它提倡为劳动者引入新的"从属承包人"(dependent contractor)的身份。但在大多数情况下,它提出的建议都缺乏魄力。最近,作为零工经济领域最显著的代表,Uber和Deliveroo都遭到了议员们的批评。但到目前为止,主要还是劳动法层面的纠纷,政府并未介入。

Insecure workers may have to adapt. But they can resist too, although it is not easy. They are not well placed to afford trades union membership/, being troublesome can lead to reduced work offers, and their identification with a trade may be limited. Nonetheless in the early skirmishes of what is likely to be a long-running social conflict it is the unions that have emerged with initial success.

没有保障的员工可能不得不适应这种现状。但他们也可以抵抗,尽管这并不容易。他们的经济条件或许不够好,可能付不起工会的会员费。更何况,如果引发麻烦,会导致他们的工作报酬减少,并且他们的工会资质也可能受到限制。尽管如此,在早期那些可能形成长期社会矛盾的小规模冲突中,工会还是取得了初步成功。

The latest example is McDonald’s, where staff at two fast food outlets have just taken the unusual step of striking to demand better pay, more secure contracts and union recognition.

最新的例子是麦当劳,该公司有两家快餐厅的员工刚刚采取了不同寻常的举措,要求更好的薪酬、更有保障的合同,以及工会的认可。

This is not just an issue of workers’ rights. When people become locked into long-term lifestyles of insecure work, it interacts with other issues. With the high cost of housing, it traps individuals in a life cycle limbo of dependency on parents. There are reasons to believe that poor quality jobs with insecure work patterns have harmful effects on health. These detriments fall disproportionately on the those in the least prosperous socio-economic groups.

这不仅仅是劳动者权益问题。当人们的长期生活方式被没有保障的工作困扰之后,便会与其他问题相互作用。随着住房成本高企,人们不得不变成"啃老族"。有理由相信,不稳定的工作模式有害健康。这些伤害不成比例地落到了那些最不富裕的社会经济群体头上。

As for the way we educate young people about careers, exhortations to flexibility are good only up to a point. We need to equip workers of the future to collaborate to promote and safeguard their interests, and give them a fair chance to redress the power imbalance in contemporary labour markets.

至于我们对年轻人的职业教育方式,劝告他们保持灵活性只能带来一定程度的益处。我们需要让未来的劳动者能够共同促进和维护他们自身的利益,还要给他们提供一个公平的机会来纠正当代劳动力市场权力不均衡的现状。

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