Resistance in the workplace - two contrasting strategies

First up is a USA Today article on getting fired for blogging - Warning: Your clever little blog could get you fired.
One of the things that interests me the most, as you have probably guessed from the title of today's blog, is workplace resistance. When I refer to workplace resistance I mean all the ways workers can attempt to counter managerial control of the workplace, i.e. from organised, formal and collective forms such as strikes or working-to-rule, to, unorganised, informal and individual forms that may include spontaneous resignation and and withdrawal of personal effort. In the last few days I bought contrasting books on this subject - one suggests many different ways to 'fight back' and the other implies that the art to surviving modern work is to find elaborate ways to do less. Essentially, I believe the first book promotes collective forms of resistance and the latter individual forms. Here is a summary of the two approaches.

A Troublemaker's Handbook 2: How to Fight Back Where You Work and Win! - Edited by Jane Slaughter (2005)

The basis of this book is to let 'the experts tell their own stories' about workers who have stood up to management. The view of the book is that 'it's management that causes trouble in the workplace and employers who cause trouble in society, when they speed us up, treat us disrepectfully, and squeeze us for every last drop of profit'. A summary of the book's content is below:

1) Power on the job - how employers try to undermine the power of workers
2) Basics of organizing - creating an 'organizing attitude'
3) Shop floor tactics - why raising grievances is not enough and what to do instead
4) Creative tactics - includes mass t-shirt wearing, street action and putting on a show
5) Fighting discrimination/building unity - dealing with such issues and fighting back
6) Saving good jobs: Fighting lean production and outsourcing - fighting the latest management initiatives
7) Organizing for health and safety - using health and safety issues to revitalised union activity
8) Contract campaigns - ever heard of a 15 minute or 15 second strike?
9) Strikes - strike guidelines
10) Inside strategies - getting members on board
11) Corporate campaigns - includes 'pressuring consumers'
12) Allying with the community: Single issue campaigns - building alliances with the public
13) Allying with the community: Multi-issue campaigns - towards social contracts
14) Union solidarity - cross-union solidarity
15) Organizing new members - strategy targeting
16) Bringing immigrants into the movement - alliances with immigrants' rights coalitions
17) Workers centers - workers' cooperatives
18) Reform caucuses and running for office - challenging union leaders from the grassroots
19) Running your local/strategic planning - a SWOT analysis of your local union branch
20) Troublemakers on the home page - designing a website to encourage action
21) Develop leaders - identifying leaders of workers
22) Dealing with the media - 'care and feeding of the media'
23) International solidarity - approaching unions abroad
24) Troublemaking for the long haul - learning from history
25) Resources - organizations, periodicals, handbooks, videos, etc.

There's also a handy appendix entitled: How to research employers - i.e. whatever you need to know is all online somewhere...

Contrast the predominantly trade union approach with the individualist approach of Maier - a senior economist at French electricty giant Electricite de France.

Hello Laziness: Why Hard Work Doesn't Pay by Corinne Maier (2005 - English translation)

The basis for this book is that you should 'forget everything you know about business. Forget employee loyalty and taking extra responsibilities. Forget an honest day's work for an honest's day's pay. Hard work and long hours won't get you anywhere'. Self explanatory to me! Just in case you don't get it and/or need more details Maier ends the book with a chapter called 'resistance begins now' and lists her ' ten counter-commandments' that relate to attitude to work:

1) Salaried work is the new slavery. Remember that work is not a place for personal development. You work for your pay cheque at the end of the month, 'full stop', as business types are fond of saying.
2) It's pointless trying to change the system. By opposing it, you merely reinforce it, entrench it further. Of course, you can indulge in anarchic behaviour, such as phone calls to the office to say that you're ill, or adopt the manifesto' Steal from work because work steals from you'. But as for fully fledged revolt, that was OK for the radicals of the 1970s, but look what they turned into (the bosses).
3) The work you do is fundamentally pointless. You could be replaced any day of the week by some idiot off the street. So do as little work as possible and spend some time (not too much, though) 'selling yourself' and 'networking' so that you have some back-up with which to protect yourself next time the company restructures.
4) You will not be judged on the way you do your work, but on your ability to conform. The more jargon you speak, the more people will think you are in the loop.
5) Never, under any circumstances, accept positions of responsibility. You will be obliged to work for no other reward than a bit more dosh - for peanuts, in other words.
6) In larger companies, seek out the most useless jobs: adviser, consultant. The more useless they are, the harder it is to quantify your 'contribution to the wealth-creation of the company'. Avoid operational ('hands-on') positions like the plague. The ideal is to be 'sidelined': these non-productive, often 'interdepartmental', posts effect nothing, and are subject to no management pressure. In short, a complete 'skive'.
7) Once you've hidden yourself away, try to stay that way: only those who are most exposed are meddled with.
8) Learn how to read the subtle clues (items of dress, off-colour jokes, warm smiles) that identify those who, like you, doubt the system and have realized how absurd the whole business is.
9) When you recruit temporary staff for the company (short-term contracts, freelances, etc.) treat them well: remember, they are the only ones who actually do any work.
10) Tell yourself that this whole ridiculous ideology promulgated by business is no more 'true' than the dialectical materialism that the communist system raised to the status of official dogma. It will have its day and will then surely collapse. As Stalin said, death always wins in the end. The problem is knowing when...
How do you resist management-led infringements on your job?

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