Economic restructuring and technological change : resistance and control among inside workers and letter carriers at Canada Post Corporation, St. John's, Newfoundland

Ripley, Paul (1989) Economic restructuring and technological change : resistance and control among inside workers and letter carriers at Canada Post Corporation, St. John's, Newfoundland. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This thesis is a comparative study of the changing work experience and relations of two groups of Canadian postal employees in St. John's, Newfoundland. Two related factors are identified as underwriting these changes: technological based reorganization of work and the demand of a conservative state for a move to a private sector model of operations. The latter factor includes the requirement for a deficit free, and even profit-generating, operation at Canada Post Corporation and the divestment of public ownership. Underlying this empirical analysis is a theoretical interest in the labour process, technology and the managerial problem of control. -- I argue in this thesis that among inside postal workers, members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, technological change and the bureaucratic reorganization of work which has surrounded it has undermined their ability to resist management incursions on the shop floor. The subsequent shift in the frontier of control has enabled management to implement a number of productivity and efficiency measures, which from the workers' point of view, has had a major negative effect on their work experience and relations. Moreover, the recent move toward privatization and the generation of more flexible, casual labour further undermines the ability of workers to defend themselves. -- While inside workers have had a continuous history of conflict over the degradation of work through technological change, letter carriers have experienced a relatively stable, institutionalized relationship with management during the past 15 years. This relationship, in contrast to the inside workers', may be characterized as "consent" based. However, with growing pressure on management to solve the economic "crisis" at Canada Post, the status quo between letter carriers and management is eroding and an ultimately antagonistic set of interests is being revealed. -- The data from this comparative study lead to the conclusion that recent interest in the notion of consent within the labour process literature has definite theoretical and empirical limits which become apparent in examining production relations in periods of economic instability. On the other hand, the question of control of labour and technologicl change cannot be addressed in formulistic, determinist fashion. Rather, the unique organizational and historical characteristics of "each" labour process must be understood in its own context.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5960
Item ID: 5960
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 180-190.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Sociology
Date: 1989
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Canada Post Corporation; Postal service--Newfoundland and Labrador--Employees--Effect of technological innovations on; Letter carriers--Newfoundland and Labrador; Postal service--Newfoundland and Labrador--Management; Postal service--Employees--Labor unions--Newfoundland and Labrador; Privatization--Canada

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