Essential and Disposable? Or Just Disposable? Informal Workers During COVID-19
Orleans Reed, Sarah
MetadataShow full item record
During the COVID-19 crisis, the phrase “essential but disposable” became a rallying critique in global North countries against an economic system that demanded worker sacrifice without commensurate safety protections, wages, or access to health care. The slogan underlines that those workers considered “essential” are often employed under the lowest paid, riskiest, and most pre- carious forms of wage work (Rose 2020). But rather than granting enhanced privileges to such workers, it has been argued that the label “essential” acts as a “controlling mechanism used by employers to maximize labor” (Pandey et al. 2021: 3), among workers whose economic position makes it difficult for them to refuse this work (Lakeoff 2020).