“At the same time as retirement, it is work that needs to be rethought”

“At the same time as retirement, it is work that needs to be rethought”

Ihe debate on pensions has notably given rise to the idea that the basic problem was less the reform project than work itself. For a growing proportion of employees, the latter is now synonymous with dissatisfaction and lack of meaning.

This is evidenced by the manifestations of disengagement such as absenteeism, turnover [le départ et l’entrée de personnel]demotivation in the face to difficult working conditions, difficulties in recruiting… There should be no “laziness” in this, but a criticism in action of the work we do, in the name of the one we love. Employees therefore do not resign themselves without bitterness to occupying – because one has to live well – a job that is essentially food-related.

Under this prism, retirement appears to them as the moment of “great compensation” when accounts are settled. On the one hand, it is the legitimate demand for justice mentioned in connection with the unequal duration of contributions, related to the unequal life expectancy. On the other hand, we can however suspect that, for the greatest number, the account will never be there. Because, whatever the conditions, how could the pension replace what is priceless, that is to say meaningful and fulfilling work?

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The opposition to the reform covers, in this respect, a debate that has been overlooked so far. The one who opposes the partisans of a signal of “good management” to be sent to the markets and the supporters of a certain idea of ​​solidarity who, following the sociologist Marcel Mauss (1872-1950), consider pensions as a counter -donation paid by the nation to its retirees, in response to the donation they provided when they were active.

The feeling of being useful

This split between managerial reason and symbolic recognition overlaps with that which opposes, in the sphere of work, the culture of results and the ethics of the profession, predatory capitalism and the aspiration to give of oneself. We therefore understand the bitterness of those whom the government’s arguments force to submit to a logic which, in their eyes, diverts from the essential.

At the same time as retirement, it is therefore work that needs to be rethought, so that it is rewarding as such and ultimately allows for an activity that humanizes. After all, working consists in producing, of course, but in doing so, it is also ourselves that by working we produce.

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As such, work should favor autonomy, contrary to neo-Taylorism which unlearns responsibility. It could be an experience that prepares for living together by favoring common belonging to the team, to the profession, to society, instead of competition and excessive individualization that dissolve solidarity. It should accredit in everyone the feeling of being useful, by allowing work well done and the feeling of duty accomplished, today prevented by the obsession with numbers. A major contribution in this respect can be that of a management exercising its mission loyally, instead of favoring avoidance by hiding in anonymous systems of productivist inspiration (just-in-time production, digitization, etc.).

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