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For a future of work with dignity: A critique of the world bank development report, the changing nature of work

Technological change has brought about rapid changes in the world of work over the past decade. The World Bank’s World Development Report 2019: The Changing Nature of Work is a welcome contribution as it discusses the transformations that are taking place and tries to advise governments on how best to adapt to them. The report also brings out the concern related to the growing risks associated with tax evasion by large corporations that control the market power and have an ever-greater share of economic activity. However, the report is flawed in many ways as it portrays these changes in the nature of work as essentially benign, requiring “adaptation” and skills acquisition by workers facilitated by the provision of skills and “universal” social coverage by governments, with the latter understood as a prelude to labour-market deregulation. Such a narrow perspective ignores the growing body of research that points to very serious risks and challenges faced by workers in ensuring decent working conditions due to technological changes. This article provides a critique of the World Bank report by focusing on five areas related to technology and the future of work that are fundamental for ensuring minimum standards for workers and to ensure social cohesion: inequality, jobs, labour regulations, trade unions and social protection.