Do you remember what Twitter was like before the arrival of Elon Musk? Users with the blue check that were relevant, a moderation system that avoided (as much as possible) the spread of toxic comments, a multitude of useful accounts that made use of Twitter’s free API and a generally correct functioning of the web/app.
And this at the user level. At the enterprise level, Twitter was a company that was having trouble monetizing its social network and was facing millions in debt, but even with its problems, it was doing well internally and its employees were happy.
All that ended at the end of October 2022, when Musk bought Twitter and wanted to rebuild the company to his liking. Massive layoffs, cutbacks everywhere, high demands on workers, labor exploitation (to the point that, at the beginning, many had to stay overnight in the offices to do all the work they were told to do) and… more layoffs.
If we add to this situation the cases of labor exploitation of Tesla workers, we can get a clear idea of what workers really mean to Musk. But the thing goes further, and it is that, according to an interview he gave this week to CNBC, the heir to the emerald mines claims to be very much against telecommuting.
Telecommuting or remote work has been one of the hallmarks of the hard times of the pandemic and the current post-COVID world, where many workers have had to work from home, either due to restrictions or as a measure to prevent contagion.
But this measure, which is already standard in many companies, and which many workers today are grateful for because their work can be carried out without any problem from home (thus saving them time and money in commuting alone), does not seem to please Musk: “I firmly believe that people have to be more productive when they are in person,” he said.
Like any good “entrepreneur”, Musk joins the bandwagon of those bosses who believe that when they do not control their employees, they “take advantage” and work less. A paranoia that makes clear the inability of this type of people to trust the professionals who really run their companies and whose empathy is conspicuous by its absence.
Prior to the pandemic, Tesla had a more open policy with remote work, but after the pandemic, Musk was completely against the measure, as well as others that served to prevent contagion (such as the use of masks) at a time when the United States had a very high COVID mortality rate.
Musk was so strict on this issue that he even warned the electric vehicle company’s workers that they would lose their jobs if they refused to return to the office to work, when government restrictions on this were released. Workers had to spend 40 hours a week in the office, even though their work could be done seamlessly from a PC and without the need to be in person.
Once Musk acquired Twitter, he applied exactly the same policy. All the while, he laid off more than three-quarters of the workforce (almost nothing).
Moreover, in the interview itself he ended up taking a very haughty and high-handed tone with the interviewer himself, David Faber, when Faber alluded to the politics of telecommuting: “Get off your fucking moral high horse with the work-from-home bullshit,” Musk said, “because they’re asking everyone else not to work from home while they’re doing it.”
The mental simplicity of this kid with the body of an adult was even more evident when he argued that, since there are jobs that cannot be done from home (such as food deliverers), no one should work from home (the classic “justice from below” of the neoliberals), and said that remote work was a “disaster” and “a moral issue”.
If there is anything worse than a cretin, it is a cretin with power.
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