The 24 hour day: women, work and class
Date Written: 26/09/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21950
Movements of women, as well as those involving large numbers of women, will increasingly be features of resistance to neoliberalism. The extent to which they succeed will be the extent to which they are able to challenge the class basis of neoliberalism, and its consequences.
In the developing world too there has been a major increase in the mobilisation of female labour reserves. Industrialisation of more traditional, agricultural economies has led to a growth of manufacturing industry employing workforces composed of young workers, many of them female. The conditions of employment tend to be poor, relying on low wage work in sometimes dangerous conditions, attractive to MNCs because of the low overheads. Women do not always find or choose employment locally and often have to migrate, sometimes within their own country or region, sometimes travelling across the world in order to work - often in providing services and care for those in the developed countries.
Record levels of inequality have been the outcome of these patterns of work and this has accompanied the feminisation of the labour force. Indeed, there has been a polarisation not just in terms of income but also in terms of the status of work. Feminisation has led to a lowering of status and reward in occupations such as banking, printing and sections of retail work. At the same time the decline of skilled manufacturing jobs has led to changed attitudes to work, and particularly to the low status throughout society connected with anything to do with physical work. It is impossible to understand the raised levels of exploitation which have taken place over the past two decades without seeing that it is inconceivable without the introduction of female labour. The creation of a major reserve of labour as a result of neoliberal policies has allowed the worsening of conditions for those already in work and for those entering the workforce to do so on a much more unfavourable basis. It is this situation, going alongside the weakening of trade union rights and organisation, which has led to the vast disparities of wealth and inequalities which characterise our era.