The factor, Taylor and algorithms



The hidden of La Poste. Survey on the work organization of letter carriers

by Nicolas Jounin

The Discovery, 372 p., € 20

Three hours, 43 minutes and 59 seconds! Hired for a few weeks as a factor in CDD for an immersion survey on the working conditions of our mail distributors, the sociologist Nicolas Jounin learns that a “Organizer” de La Poste measured to the nearest second the supposed duration of his tour. Mysterious algorithms determine the “Standards and rates” factors, as precise (1.3 minutes for the delivery of a recommended) as irrational according to the author, who seeks to decipher the mysteries of this organization of work.

Nicolas Jounin reports stories of tours during which the postman seeks an uncertain balance between the rule, the complexity of periodic reorganizations and the reality on the ground. He explains how the quality of service to users sometimes suffers and why physical suffering and discomfort are often present in letter boxes.

Our ephemeral factor, which has led dozens of interviews with postal workers across France and consulted a large number of archives, applies to describe how La Poste came to this productivity strategy. Nicolas Jounin even talks with Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915) during a few meetings “Almost true”, where the work of postal workers is scrutinized in the light of its doctrine. Is the shadow of Taylorism lurking in La Poste? By focusing on the microcosm of factors, the author, to whom we owe in particular Public access not permitted. Survey among construction workers (La Découverte, 2008), signs a committed essay on the sharing of experiences and the production process in the company.

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