The Mexican automotive industry during the pandemic of COVID-19, changes in working conditions and labor skills.

Publication Type:

Conference Paper

Authors:

Miranda Pedro

Source:

Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2021)

Keywords:

Auto industry

Abstract:

The Mexican automotive industry during the pandemic of COVID-19, changes in working conditions and labor skills.  

In this text I want to present one first approach about changes in car industry, specially working conditions and labor skills in assembly line. They have been pressured mainly by the pandemic and too even United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), though the latter to a lesser extent. The pandemic of COVID-19 implicates some adequate in assembly line for get one correct social distancing, where was necessary that some workers with comorbidity should stay in house. Also, inside the working process the workers must wear some elements of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), for example, safety glasses, gloves, face mask or face shield. Similarly in the plants was introduced new elements like plastic sheets, for example, in food’s zone or even between the different production lines. Of course, I don’t refer to how make factories’ retool to produce PPE if how they produce cars with PPE in their assembly lines, all for avoid spreads the covid-19 in workforce. The transformation in the Mexican automotive industry can development in several points in middle the pandemic and after it. Basically I can identify that the majority of studies about changes or consequences of pandemic in car industry were centered at societal level and commercial. So what does this mean for car industry’ researches? That only is focused in sells, losses, markets and changes in the supply chains and some studies more adventurous have told about the new technologies like industry 4.0, or at least how it is accelerated. But these studies haven’t considered about the changes in working conditions or working skills. So my main question for this text is what are the consequences at the working conditions and labor skills in assembly line of car industry during the pandemic of covid-19? For example, in one report of McKinsey (2020, p.4) has said that “operators are assigned to fewer machines but responsible for more tasks within their work area, thereby minimizing contact with staff and equipment outside the pod”. That is meaning that now a single team member is responsible for its entire journey, it is naturally more complicate for workforce and maybe for unions in the future post Covid. Even this analysis has said that some tasks like quality assurance can be conducted by remote specialists with cameras or digital tools, obviously it is one element for digitalization process, it is meaning more speed for “fourth revolution”. However the underlying theme is about the workload, how the workers respond to it. I start from configurationism’s approach, which takes in its grounds Marxist elements and also it incorporates the subjectivity. From this approach I can rescue the concept of socio-technical configuration, a basis where the subjects perform their actions like technology, work organization, labor relations, labor force profile and labor culture (De La Garza, 2017, p.15). At the methodological, this purpose understand to the reality for several levels, micro, meso and macro. Of course, for this text is impossible retake all elements of socio-technical configuration, but I only put the main elements, it means, barely a first approximation about the changes in the production lines of car industry, it means, work organization. So, at the micro level I can identify changes work organization and labor conditions with changes in some elements of working skills. At the meso level, the trends in new technologies from Industry 4.0 and at the macro level, the economy policies of USMCA, which entered into force on 1 July 2020.

Bibliography

* Furtado Vivek, Kolaja Tom, Mueller Curt, Salguero Julian (2020) “Managing a manufacturing plant through the coronavirus crisis” in McKinsey & Company. Abril. PDF Document.

* De La Garza Enrique, Hernández Romo Marcela (2017) Las configuraciones productivas y relaciones laborales en empresas multinacionales en América Latina. Gedisa, UAM. México.

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