Lean Production and Neo-liberal Crisis. A Comment on “Working Conditions within Italian FCA Group Plants” by Matteo Gaddi
Keywords:Lean Production, Control-Subordination, Workplace-Wellbeing, Neoliberalism, Union-Social Strategies
AbstractIn addressing Matteo Gaddi’s prospectus on working life and labour relations in the Italian FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) Group, this paper considers a range of responses common to labour organizations in the automotive sector internationally. These include embracing them entirely, or engaging with them robustly in an attempt to change them. This has typically required the union to think outside the framework of straightforward opposition, going beyond seeing lean as a management fad or just a simple change in production requirements. The argument is made that lean, in addition to being understood as a manufacturing strategy, is also a managerial ideology developed in a period of neoliberal transformation. In consequence, quality of working life issues attendant on the supposed misapplication of lean are here understood as being critical to capital’s labour control strategies. Moreover, since lean is also part and parcel of wider societal change, it is argued that the union could consider developing, via network research, a bench marking agenda of workplace health & safety and worker wellbeing. This can be a means by which “health and sickness dumping” are refracted back to the firm rather than supported through social wage.
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