The future of work

A note from the editor

Dinyar Godrej

Value-added work

Like it or not, we place a value on the work we do. Depending on our perception, this might be the notion of finding fulfilment through the work one does (extolled alike by managers and those of a more creative bent), the search for work that ‘makes a difference’, or the more mundane but essential: working for a wage.

Ironically, some of the most important work is, if not entirely unrecognized, grossly undervalued. This is the care work still done mainly by women, without which society would cease to function and the wheels of business would hit the buffers.

But it’s monetized work that is seen as sink or swim. Not being able to access it is a source of great desperation, especially when social provision is weak or non-existent.

This edition’s Big Story inspects how workers the world over are being squeezed. There is no shortage of ideas that envisage a future where we reorganize society in such a way that work becomes at most a part-time adjunct in a world of shared plenty. We look at a some of those. But in the short-term, the challenges are age-old – struggles for greater autonomy, dignity and fairness.

In other sections of the magazine, we meet Ghana’s 13-year-old DJ Switch, an incredible campaigner for children’s rights. And in Temperature Check we offer some handy suggestions for what you can do to get the right messages to world leaders attending the COP26 climate talks.

Dinyar Godrej for the New Internationalist co-operative.
www.newint.org

The big story

 Economic migrants from rural areas at work on a construction site in Nairobi, Kenya. Such jobs are usually temporary, sometimes just a day’s labour. Photo: Nature Picture/Alamy

Economic migrants from rural areas at work on a construction site in Nairobi, Kenya. Such jobs are usually temporary, sometimes just a day’s labour.

Photo: Nature Picture/Alamy

The squeeze on workers

Starting from the revelations of a global pandemic, Dinyar Godrej looks into the possible futures of work.

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The Big Story

Work and Covid-19 - The Facts

The pandemic has affected livelihoods on an unprecedented scale. As the gears begin to turn again, the scarring effects on work may persist.

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No fear of heights: two engineers check out the drill shaft on an oil platform in the North Sea.Photo: Horizon International Images Limited/Alamy

Green jobs - puffery and promise

Campaigners have long argued that a transition to renewable energy could provide a jobs bonanza. Now politicians are talking that talk – but many workers in the fossil-fuel industry believe it’s a con. Conrad Landin picks through the rhetoric with offshore workers in Scotland.

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Launched in May 2020, the worker-members of ChiFresh Kitchen have been busy throughout the Covid-19 pandemic cooking up healthy, culturally appropriate food for their Chicago community. As well as providing emergency food aid, the co-op – which employs formerly incarcerated people – is also contracted to provide food for schools and social centres and makes several hundred meals a day.Photo: Kai Brown

The democratic workplace

Can employees be in full control of their enterprises? Amy Hall explores the possibilities and tensions of worker co-operatives.

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Catching up with the Trolley Times, Ghaziabad, India, April 2021. The four-page weekly newspaper, printed in Gurmukhi and Hindi, was founded in December 2020 to give voice to the farmers’ protest.Photo: SOPA Images Limited/Alamy

Holding out for the harvest

The stratagems of big corporate players and a compliant government will make the job of growing food not worth doing for Indian smallholders. Farming is not just an occupation but a way of life – and the fightback is robust. Navsharan Singh outlines just what is at stake.

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Read my facemask: a woman at a rally of essential workers in Detroit, Michigan, US, October 2020.Photo: Emily Elconin/Reuters/Alamy

The fight for lives and labour

Black women in the US do the socially important work, often unnamed and unrecognized, that is essential to the profit of an economic elite. Rose M Brewer profiles four examples of how they are standing up for change.

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Cueca dancers celebrate the indigenous Aymara culture of the Andes – but in modern garb – as a carnaval parade gets under way in Arica, Chile.Photo: Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg 20+/Alamy

Living well

The obsession with full employment is a dead end in a world on the ecological brink. Richard Swift explores what could sustain us instead.

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Some of the plaintiffs in this long quest for justice – Angelica Choc (the widow of Adolfo Ich Chamán), Irma Yolanda Choc Cac and Irma Yolanda Choc Quib.Photo: Rights Action

‘Our whole truth will come out’

Roxana Olivera reports on the indigenous women who could make legal history by holding a Canadian mining company to account for its operatives overseas.

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Home under threat: Endangered savanna elephants have a migratory corridor in the Kavango region.Photo: A Curious Ape

Paradise lost?

A vast area of Namibia and Botswana is under threat from oil and gas exploration. Devastating consequences are feared for the people, wildlife and natural environment. Graeme Green reports on the fight to keep Kavango alive.

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Illustration: Tomekah George

Lloyd’s of London’s debt

When it comes to the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade and ongoing support of fossil fuels, what would be the cost of financial reparations? Through exploring the history of a prominent player in the insurance marketplace, Sahar Shah and Harpreet Kaur Paul have an idea of where to start.

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Opinion

View from Africa

View from Africa

1980s throw-back, by Nanjala Nyabola.

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View from Brazil

View from Brazil

Dry taps and blackouts by Leonardo Sakamoto.

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View from India

View from India

Why women don’t loiter, by Nilanjana Bhowmick.

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Currents

A cop out? Activists don’t expect climate justice to emerge from negotiations at the UN summit under the leadership of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (whose head featured in a Greenpeace protest against plastic, outside Downing Street, London earlier this year).Photo: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Will COP26 deliver?

Activists don’t expect climate justice to emerge from negotiations at the UN summit, reports Eve Livingston.

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Illustration: Emma Peer

Introducing... Hibatullah Akhundzada

The unlikely ‘friendly face’ of the Taliban.

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Digital turn

Digital turn

Maxine Betteridge-Moes reports from Western Sahara.

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The Basòdino glacier lies in the borderlands between Switzerland and Italy, but it has retreated by 80 per cent since 1850. On 12 September, activists climbed the mountain to stage a ‘funeral’.Photo: Daniel Pittet

Farewell to a glacier

Nicholas Hutchinson mourns the death of the Basòdino glacier in Switzerland.

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Women dance at a solidarity street party for undocumented migrants in Dublin, Ireland, where the government has just announced a sweeping amnesty.Photo: Brian Lawless/Alamy

Out of the shadows

Luke Butterly reports on a ‘potentially life-changing scheme’ from Ireland.

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Bad taste

Bad taste

iFood riders call for better pay and the end of unfair dismissal.

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Illustration: Emma Peer

Reasons to be cheerful

On Yer Bike; Vax Attack; Taxi Home.

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Regulars

Letters

Letters

Praise, blame and all points in between? Give us your feedback.

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Illustration: Sarah John

A fine kettle of fish

In her Letter from Manila Iris Gonzales visits Manila’s largest fish port, where the effects of an international dispute are playing out.

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Illustration: Emma Peer

Seriously?

Flattery can get you anywhere, notes Husna Ara.

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Illustration: Marco De Angelis

Open Window

Putin’s power by Marco De Angelis (Italy)

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Photos (clockwise from top): Ennahdha supporters demonstrate in Tunis on 27 February 2021; the desert in Gabès; outside the Medina de Tunis; the Medina pictured amid the city’s skyline.Top Photo: Hasan Mrad/Shutterstock. Other Photos: Clément Arbib.

Country Profile: Tunisia

The photos, facts, and politics of Tunisia.

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Cartoon History: Hōno Heke II

ILYA brings to life a second chapter in the life of the Māori warrior chief as he becomes embroiled in a bitter rebellion against the British and their allies in the War of the North.

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Photo: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters/Alamy

Hall of Infamy

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan.

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The debate: Zoos

The debate: Zoos

Do zoos represent pointless captivity or an opportunity for conservation and education? Linda Kimotho and Oluwaseun S Iyasere have different takes.

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Photo: Sarah Yoon

The Interview: Susan Nakyung Lee

A newly formed citizen’s grouping – Global Assembly – wants a snapshot of humanity to air its views directly to policymakers at this year’s UN climate conference. Amy Hall speaks to one of its organizers, Susan Nakyung Lee, about the limits and potential of democracy.

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Photo: Hannah Reyes Morales

Southern Exposure: Hannah Reyes Morales

Highlighting the work of artists and photographers from the Majority World.

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Illustration: Marc Roberts

Only Planet

Social class by Marc Roberts.

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Internationalize it! A girl takes part in a global day of action on climate change in Khayelitsha township near Cape Town, South Africa in September 2020.Photo: Sumaya Hisham/Reuters

Temperature check

Danny Chivers suggests five useful things you can do during COP26.

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The puzzler

Crossword Puzzle, Association Words and Wordsearch.

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Big Bad World

Big Bad World

Pants on fire. Cartoon by P J Polyp.

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Agony Uncle: Arguing with a Covid-sceptic friend?

Agony Uncle: Arguing with a Covid-sceptic friend?

Ethical and political dilemmas abound these days. Seems like we’re all in need of a New Internationalist perspective. Enter stage: Agony Uncle.

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Illustration: Andy Carter

What if…

Urban public transport was free for all? Conrad Landin investigates.

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Film, Book & Music Reviews

Mixed Media: Books

Mixed Media: Books

Somebody Loves You by Mona Arshi; Just the Plague by Ludmila Ulitskaya, translated by Polly Gannon; Do Earth by Tamsin Osmond; The Gold Machine by Iain Sinclair.

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Mixed Media: Film

Mixed Media: Film

Petite Maman directed and written by Céline Sciamma; The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao
directed and co-written by Karim Aïnouz.

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Mixed Media: Music

Mixed Media: Music

Still Moving by Justin Adams and Mauro Durante; El Amor No Es Para Los Débiles by Bareto.

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Spotlight: DJ Switch

Spotlight: DJ Switch

Subi Shah interviews 13 year-old Erica Armah-Bra Bulu Tandoh, aka DJ Switch.

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