Taylorooism: When Network Technology Meets Corporate Power
(2018) 49(5-6) Industrial Relations Journal 459
15 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2018 Last revised: 2 Jun 2019
Date Written: September 11, 2018
Despite the glitzy rhetoric of techno-utopia, the ‘gig economy’ presents no new issue for labour rights. Yet an unusually aggressive mode of business has developed: a kind of ‘technological management’ or ‘Taylorooism’. Its basis is the misrepresentation of employment status in the search for profit without responsibility, and is seen in companies using apps like Uber, CitySprint or Deliveroo. In the early 20th century, ‘Taylorism’ professed to have found principles of ‘scientific management’, but this merely concealed an authoritarian rejection of the right to organise, and contempt for the dignity of staff. In the early 21st century, Taylorooism professes that its use of network technology and apps means efficiency in matching suppliers and customers of services, but this merely conceals the evasion of legal duties, and contempt for employees and their rights. This article unpacks the response of the UK and other EU countries to this business practice. It outlines a government report, coincidentally named the Taylor Review (July 2017) that proposed the deepest cuts to employment rights for 30 years. It explains why the Review was corrupted by one of its member’s conflicts of interests, and must be regarded as a squandered opportunity. The real issue is the misrepresentation by tech corporations of the employment status of their staff. In Aslam v Uber BV the Employment Tribunal found as fact that Uber is ‘an excellent illustration... of “armies of lawyers” contriving documents... which simply misrepresent the true rights and obligations on both sides’. With new Supreme Court case law, tech firms may be risking liability for fraud.
Keywords: Taylorism, Malthusianism, Gig-Economy, Fraud, Uber, Deliveroo, Peasants’ Revolt, Speenhamland, Employment Rights
JEL Classification: K10, K31, N00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation