What lies ahead for the working world?
International Workers' Day on May 1 has changed, Europe's commentators write. While some believe that many workers are finding it difficult to stand up for their rights at all, others voice concern about job security in times of growing digitalisation.
No time for marches because of exploitation
Taking part in a demonstration is a luxury nowadays, writes Isaac Rosa in eldiario.es:
“I didn't go to a May Day rally because I had to go to work. I'm a waiter, a cook, a salesman, a cashier, a transporter or any other profession you might care to add for which there are no Sundays or public holidays anymore (and for which they pay me the same for Sundays as for Mondays since they're all workdays). … I'm a poor devil with several part-time jobs; one salary isn't enough so I work weekends and public holidays. … I'm a freelancer, my life is just a never-ending string of deadlines without Sundays or public holidays. … I didn't go to the May Day rally because I had to go to work. But perhaps I'll go next year. It would be good if by then in addition to demanding work for all and decent salaries we also denounced the way work has invaded every last corner of our private lives.”
Hard times for social democrats
The social democratic parties are having a hard time coming up with a vision for the future, Dagens Nyheter observes:
“The traditional industries in which the unions have been able to organise themselves easily represent an ever smaller portion of the economy. The service sector is growing but it is fragmented. ... Merely defending the status quo without going on the offensive will never bring victory. The crisis has helped the forces of xenophobia and the social democrats' rivals on the left. ... Neither the industrial robots nor the global market are about to disappear. Living standards must be maintained, but the ageing population must also be cared for. Traditional social democrats have difficulties meeting all the different challenges they face. Finding a message for the future is easier said than done. A charismatic leader could go some way toward this. The favourite in the French presidential elections, Emmanuel Macron, is an optimistic liberal with a social democratic side. Why not him?”
Robots won't take away our jobs
Robots aren't about to replace humans in the working world, the Salzburger Nachrichten believes:
“What we're seeing now is a working world that creates new ways of earning a living. For some people it's more important to share things than to own them. But in an economy based on money, paid work remains decisive. The challenge is to design work in such a way that people can make a decent living from it. Because even if people have been in pursuit of the ideal of idleness since ancient times, without work they can't get by. For it's more than just the means to an end: it's part of life. Robots can help us by taking some work off our hands. But even with the digitalisation of work, people aren't about to let robots do theirs. They'll go on developing and implementing their ideas. Now as in the past. And in the future.”