Sunday, September 29, 2019

John McPhillip Inman - Donnell is right: a service economy needn’t be a servant economy

John McDonnell is right: a service economy needn’t be a servant economy

At work we never got much training in the end, despite all the new technology that was coming in. This technology was overwhelming, and so I would go home at night and search the internet downloading loads of PDF manuals for free. I would then spend hours at home studying them and making them into hard-copy manuals.

A little while later I found out online that many companies didn't train their staff anymore because they knew they would do what I was doing - that is, train themselves.

I was working far too many hours to keep up, and then I would go home and search the net for more information. Sometimes I even found slide-shows for training courses. I thought it would be temporary but it seemed to go on forever.

I was absolutely worn out in the end, but the pressure was enormous. I would sometimes work for free because I felt I had taken too long to finish a job. I would feel bad about it, but then one day I found out other people at work were doing the same thing, and they were tough people.

The management always complained that I was doing too much overtime and they made me feel incompetent. Then they brought in this young Eastern European guy to help me and my hours went down from 60 to 50 hours a week, but he ended up doing 60 hours plus a week himself - more than me - and we were still overloaded.

He had the stamina of a horse and was very good at his job - the best I had seen, other than me. I left in the end due to ill-health and they never replaced me. Every Christmas he emails me to say he how hates it there, that no one appreciates his effort, that he's lonely, that he can't find another job with sufficient pay because he has a family to feed.

A few months after I left a colleague who worked in another division doing the same job as me got made redundant for incompetence. He had been with the company over 40 years. The new technology was difficult. I used to think he was quite good and I would often ring him up for advice.

This was the era of 'Tough Management' - noliberalism! I'm glad I got out.

That is the view of the economics professor and biographer of John Maynard Keynes, Lord Skidelsky. He worries our attitude to work has hardened to a point where a cadre of managers and professionals is charged with bossing around an increasingly casualised workforce – one that is forced to contort domestic lives to suit the whims of those in charge and the profit motive.

These workers must be prepared to work late and arrive early. They must work weekends when needs must and switch from task to task when it suits the manager. Worst of all, they must learn on the job through a method that can be likened to osmosis, with all the attendant stress and anxiety that goes with the absence of rigorous training or clear instruction.

In his report How to Achieve Shorter Working Hours, Skidelsky proposes that the government take on a new role as an “employer of last resort” – not just supporting people out of work to find a job, but giving them a job where no others exist.
Never before has a government provided such a guarantee. If it happened, workers would have the power to bid up wages and extract higher benefits, though the report recommends everyone focus on shorter working weeks as the goal.

The Guardian 

1 comment:

Andrew Anderson said...

Never before has a government provided such a [job] guarantee. If it happened, workers would have the power to bid up wages and extract higher benefits,

Except MMT (at least Warren Mosler) proposes to INCREASE the ability of banks to finance the automating of private jobs away with what would be, even more so than now, the public's credit but for private gain.

So much then for higher wages and higher benefits?

Otoh, de-privileging the banks would allow a substantial, non-inflationary Citizen's Dividend to replace ALL fiat creation beyond that created by deficit spending for the general welfare which should INCREASE every year as the need to counter productivity driven price deflation increases.