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Posts Tagged ‘labour’

Wage Slaves and Wage Thieves

 

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There has been sporadic articles and documentation regarding the inflated salaries of corporate execs and how they dwarf the salaries of our most senior public servants. More outrage ensues. More condemnation from the liberal press pours forth as they use the previously mentioned comparison to offer some perspective on the gross inequality in pay that exists.

Seemingly, the implication here is the difference in pay within the higher, more senior brackets between public and private sectors is large, and it shouldn’t be. However, I do not want a comparison drawn between the bosses of each sector. A much more worthy comparison would be to analyse the pay and rights of an average worker against a boss.

In our post-industrial, service driven economy, we are even outsourcing jobs citizens here are training to secure. This is freezing the price (wage) of labour here, and in some cases, driving it down (considering inflation). This is not only making society unequal by killing off any social mobility, it raises the top bracket of earners higher and higher above everybody else.

The attitude which manifests is one of spite towards the fellow/future worker who demands more via protest too. This is not so much a natural reaction, but one born of helplessness towards the rubbish we have to put up with. When we hear vacuous sound bites like “we are all in this together”, we tend to think, “we’re putting up with it, why aren’t they?” The answer is simple: none of us should, because the disconnect we are all feeling about the labour we offer and the fruits of it we receive is a very real problem that deserves our utmost attention.

This is not to mention the heavy cuts being implemented by the government, which will result in 500,000 public sector job losses, 50,000 of which will be in NHS, and the abolition of the UK Film Council which has produced Oscar winning films, among other wild swings of the axe. These are not just figures. They represent lives, mortgages, families, and a quality of life being squashed from above. Employment is the lifeblood of an economy. One can argue there are many superfluous jobs that should be shed – really?

The large size of the public sector here and other Western economies has become necessary to offset the deficiencies of the private sector, which has failed to provide not just sustainable growth, but sustainable employment. Until our casino finance sector stops operating in boom and bust cycles, the public sector will remain a dependable crutch for those who do not wish to gamble with lives. This brings me to the meat of this article: the attitude which the management class have tried to foster in their workforce and its economic consequences.

This can be first illustrated quite profoundly with a personal anecdote: I know someone who has earned well over £1,000,000 in product sales in the last business year, yet was only paid £22,000 for their troubles. This represents a 2.2% return of the value to the worker who was made solely responsible to shift the goods. Of course, there are other costs to account for, such as production costs and transport, but it would be reasonable to surmise that a large chunk of the profits made its way to the pockets of the directors and shareholders.

This is not only unjust, but symptomatic of the economic phenomenon in our age of globalisation: the value of a product is not simply determined by the seller in a simple transaction with simple market forces, but monopolised by those with the financial clout to keep workers dependent and hungry, effectively prostituting their labour as they see fit, while manipulating market conditions for their own benefit. This means that a worker in a Western country, who is no longer the producer of one given good, cannot readily identify the worth of a product outside their own contrived salary.

Detachment with the labour ensues, and apathy blooms.

This apathy is responsible for the incredible tolerance of the workforce to brave the gluttony and greed of the management classes. We simply do not care about what we do anymore because the reward is miniscule and our labour is undervalued. Corporations understand this problem, and the solution to protect their interests is not to improve worker conditions, but to drive them down further, so that workers become desperate, and finally grateful for their lot in life. After all, a starving man will think a dry biscuit is the best meal he’s ever had if there was nothing else.

Of course, this policy has two outcomes – March 26th is a testament to that.

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Globalisation has fermented the economic shit-storm here and made it co-dependent on the labour situation in developing countries. Take the example of a £20 pair of jeans manufactured in South East Asia and sold on a UK high-street. The worker there is on slave pay and slave hours and just about gets by (if they’re not killing themselves en masse). The product is then priced according to the target market – in this case, the poor here. The poor producers create for the poor and the rich, it is worthy to note.

Keeping the example of the cheap pair of jeans: how about improving the pay and working rights for the outsourced labour? The price of the product increases, resulting in fewer sales and probably redundancies. All the while, the rich are unaffected and preserve their profit margins. The excuse is that the poor here cannot afford to purchase the now more expensive jeans, and have been priced out by concessions to labour movements elsewhere – which then effectively demonises development on these issues among local populations.

The sadly unorthodox reaction to such events is to support each other in a rather Marxist “workers of the world unite” fashion. It is starting to happen with messages of solidarity issued by those struggling for better conditions around the world. What needs to be remembered is that the consumers here are also producers, and the producers there are also consumers. We are not one or the other. We must not be only one or the other. The conditions one worker has to endure can be normalisedfor good or for worse. That is key.

If conditions improve for workers in the North China labour market, we should support them and demand similar. If the quality of life for the workers there improves, we should demand the same concessions and readjustments. In our globalised economy, isolated progression, i.e. one that is naive to the interconnectedness of the labour markets, will damage understanding of the true economic issues of our time. Moving together is fundamental to narrowing the chasm which exists between the classes.

A revaluation of labour is necessary for a successful redistribution of income. The general discord we have for many of our jobs finds solace in our apathetic approach to the opportunities and rewards we have available. If the poor worker/consumer here cannot afford those jeans anymore, they in fact should be paid more and given better working conditions. In effect, this unilateral progression of working rights will raise the bar for workers everywhere, while simultaneously lowering the astronomically high bar of the rich profiteers.

In a blog on Brazen Careerist, a hip career-based website, Whitney May Parker advises a worker to:

3. Never tell your boss “No, I can’t do that.” Obviously if your boss is asking you to do something illegal, immoral or otherwise, that’s a different case. But when it comes to professional tasks and responsibilities, bosses like to see a can-do attitude. Instead of reacting to a challenging assignment with a sigh and immediate reasons why it can’t be done, consider what resources you’d need to actually get the job done. Maybe you need an assistant, a bigger budget, more time, access to a special resources. Think of it as an opportunity to expand your responsibilities in a way that can lead to a raise or promotion at the end of the day.

The writer clearly has immeasurable awe for her superiors and its nauseating. It is almost as if a boss is to be viewed as a benevolent being, never wrong, omniscient and noble in their judgement. This kind of material is everywhere, and it all contributes to that feeling of gratitude the management class want to instil within the workforce. Workers must remember – they do not owe them anything. Labour is not free, and 100 workers have just as much value as 100 bosses. In reality, the ratio is 1 boss to 1000 workers, looking at salaries.

Of course, that cock-tease of a line always shows up: “It can be you! You can be the tyrannical boss one day!”.

But exploring even cheaper and grateful labour might very well be “the wave of the future of human resources” one CEO has mentioned recently:

People who work for free are far hungrier than anybody who has a salary, so they’re going to outperform, they’re going to try to please, they’re going to be creative

Kelly Fallis, CEO of Remote Stylist

They will definitely be hungrier. The scandal here is that they now want us to feel grateful for working for free, and many of us do – look at interns. Entitlement is the mentality of the management classes, and gratitude is the attitude they wish to foster in their underlings. It is reducible to slavery and it should inspire our deepest contempt. But universally, it doesn’t.

Divide and sell remains the mantra…

As Marx once commented on 19th C decadence in France:

"Since the finance aristocracy made the laws, was at the head of the administration of the State, had command of all the organised public authorities, dominated public opinion through the actual state of affairs and through the press, the same prostitution, the same shameless cheating, the same mania to get rich was repeated in every sphere, from the court to the Café Borgne, to get rich not by production, but by pocketing the already available wealth of others, clashing every moment with the bourgeois laws themselves, an unbridled assertion of unhealthy and dissolute appetites manifested itself, particularly at the top of bourgeois society – lusts wherein wealth derived from gambling naturally seeks its satisfaction, where pleasure becomes debauched, where money, filth, and blood commingle."

Such is the state of affairs now, but magnified one hundred fold. To an almost fever pitch degree of greed and debauchery by the rich, the workers are deprived of a fair wage, reside in filth, and give their blood, all for a pittance. The saga of the wage slaves and wage thieves which has blighted modern civilisation to a now exhausted extent simply must end.

And it will only if we fight in solidarity.

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Iraq’s Assyrian Christians Betrayed by a Liberal West in an Identity Crisis.

27/11/2010 2 comments

Well over 100 people were killed by extremists in Baghdad alone during the last month, including over 50 Assyrian Christians on the Black Sunday of 31st October.

Mission accomplished? I don’t think so.

Condemnation by all groups and states was received in the events that followed. The media dribbled out an isolated article here or there. There were murmurings behind closed doors about plight of the “Christians of Iraq”. However, what remains clear is the massive disparity between the anguish felt by the sizeable Assyrian Christian communities in Diaspora around the world and the inaction of their respective governments to put pressure on the Iraqi government to do much more than it is doing to ensure our safety.

A series of demonstrations dubbed the Black Marches were organised around the world in more than 20 locations. Where is this reported? They generated a few whispers, but no on-going coverage, no 24 hour fascination typical of a lecherous around-the-clock media, and no special fieldwork assignments to discover why they were undertaken and what the goals were of the people demonstrating. This is not because the story itself was uninspiring, uncontroversial or timid. It was all of the opposite and more.

 

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Symbolic display of those killed by volunteers in Chicago. 

 

Why? This is my reasoning.

Western culture is increasingly becoming secular in all aspects of its society, be it politics, media, morality and communal society. This is important for a number of reasons. Chiefly, it has to do with this current perception and sentiment: the value of stories which are exclusively concerned with our humanity are more important and vital than other stories which are perceived to deviate from this norm. Its as if anything else would taint it with some nonsensical slant which would undermine its purity.

Take the story of the trapped Chilean miners – one of perseverance and strength of human spirit in a war of attrition with the earth itself. It was a simple isolated story, and it received unabated worldwide coverage with an outpouring of support from all countries. The miners survived, ensuring a happy ending and a victory for our humanity, strength of will and compassion in the face of adversity and improbable odds, all neatly packaged for us to consume. Nice.

Why was this more of a story than the Church massacre in Baghdad? This is a story where over 100 people were taken hostage in what represents an on-going assault on the Christians of Iraq. The dead had mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, and children too. Where were their interviews? Where were the messages of support? Where was all of the aid and news coverage? Where was all of the coverage of demonstrations around the world which prompted tens of thousands to take to the streets?

Missing, as usual.

 

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Aftermath of the Church massacre.

All of this greatly troubles me, and I have come to a number of conclusions.

My first conclusion is this: this event is painted as a religious conflict, and religious conflicts are notorious for bigoted opinions and endemic senseless violence. More importantly, religious conflicts are the stuff for savages in far away lands, not concerning us and our limited reserves of compassion we ration out when persistently prodded to by our fickle media. The siege against the Christians of Iraq is usually absorbed by the bigger picture and fuzzy message of “Hey, everyone is suffering. Everything is generally OK though”.

My second conclusion is this: the wall of apathy which manifests in light of these mass murders stems of the West’s inability to reach deeper inside this cauldron of supernatural folly (religion) and grasp the human element which lies at the heart of it. This isn’t just“one group of religious people killing another group in the name of religion”, this is one group of people being killed – for whatever reason. This is not simply a religious conflict, it is a human tragedy which is often overshadowed because of the now distasteful religious element.

Its almost as if “looking at the bigger picture” comes first now, with the particulars not even touched upon. This odd kind of relativist principle handicaps any meaningful appraisal of the problem.

The Western media is unable to report and comment effectively on this issue in Iraq. It also seems Western politicians are all too eager to downplay their power and influence when it suits them. If a picture requires a smile, expect everyone to be there. If not, you’re on your own, regardless of whether Western forces illegally invaded and rapidly accelerated the nationwide targeting and subjugation of the Assyrians. Where is the coverage of what these people want? Let us not forget the historical bond between Britain and the Assyrians too.

 

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Thousands of demonstrators take to the streets in Sweden.

 

This is the reason why a mainstream liberal’s philosophy, as it is now, is bankrupt. This is also why there was (and still is) so much contempt for the Labour Party. All of this inflicts a grievous wound on my present sensibilities. After all, a liberal agenda is supposed to champion the rights of minorities and disadvantaged people. At the moment, these principles are hamstrung by a generalisation of the problem to project some kind of false grander, more worldly view. These problems are localised and considering them to be otherwise is criminal.

Newspapers which used to represent general reading for me like The Guardian have betrayed their own objectives with convenient double standards. An unlikely ally in all of this has been the Conservative base, with their appreciation of the “Christian factor” and its preservation in a hostile environment. However, as mentioned previously, this is a human tragedy. Spitting fire about those abusing Christians will not improve their lives. This energy must return its focus to the needs of the people who are being oppressed.

These “Christians” have names too, a unique culture, a unique language, and a unique history – let us not concede to the Arabisation campaign. As the first inhabitants of ancient Iraq, Assyrians have suffered at the hands of Ottoman Turks, Kurds, Nationalist Arabs and Islamic extremists. However, they are resolute in the face of this long-lived adversity. They have heart and they have spirit. They will not break, and we all must support them to finally alleviate them from the third-class citizenship they experience in their ancestral land.

 

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Northern Iraq, loosely translated: No matter where the hand of evil reaches, we are not guests in this country, we are natives and we will stay.

 

Anything less would be a grand betrayal, dwarfing even the broken promise made by the Allies after WWII to finally grant their steadfast Assyrian allies a homeland. What is happening now is a threat on the Assyrians’ existence. The scattered Diaspora communities are strong, but nothing is certain without any presence in their place of origin. This highlights the key failing of today’s liberal agenda – it has no grasp, and therefore, empathy of the suffering of persecuted minorities such as the Assyrians of Iraq.

It sadly resembles something of a liberal fascism. Edges are wrongly straightened in an attempt to appear intellectually receptive to larger ideas and longer perspectives. This should not be the case. A liberal should be proud and stalwart in defending the rights of minority groups without feeling they are betraying some abstract holistic principle which has become obscure to the point of contempt. It is a sacrifice made in the mainstream of liberal media and politics. It is a wrong sacrifice to make, for liberty must be defended as well as granted.

The sacrifice is ultimately made because of an unhealthy preoccupation with the guilt only an educated westerner could feel at the colossal mess of oppressive nationalist dictatorships, ruling monarchies, and theocracies which populate the Middle East. Sadly, because this preoccupation originates in shame, great crimes are glossed over and unreported in an attempt to remain impartial. Thus, the line being towed by mainstream liberals is often one of (rightful) anger directed at Bush and Blair and their frankly stupid adventure in the region.

However, focusing the frustration on this issue is favouring the easy option of pointing the finger over actually cleaning up the mess. “Fine, but what else?” must naturally follow. The other side of the coin involves focusing on the extremists and making derogatory comments about Islam itself. This is highly unhelpful and in some cases extremely damaging for the people who have the suffer the consequences of these kind of revenge fantasies. So you have two reactions: first, “damn Bush and Blair”, and second, “damn those bloody Muslims…”.

What’s lost in all of that vitriol? The very people who are subject to the suffering.

So here is some coverage of their torturous plight now:

– There were reportedly 1.4m Assyrians in Iraq 10 years ago, now fewer than 500,000 remain. Genocide? No! “natural immigration”.

– 66 Churches have been bombed or attacked since 2003. Targeting? No! All Iraqis are suffering equally.

– Over 800 Assyrian Christians killed since 2003. Come on, this must be targeting! No! We don’t bother with population statistics and ratio of attacks when it doesn’t suit our hazy argument.

– Thousands of refugees congregate in ghettos in Syria, Jordan and Iran, stricken in poverty, with no help, employment, or voice – positively in Limbo, ready to move again. What about their stories? No! We don’t know what to ask them at this point anyway.

– Thousands more look longingly to the West, most afraid to criticise in fear of being rejected asylum and sent back to their nightmare life without rights, security and a fair shot at life. Refugee crisis? No! Ok maybe, but, er, *rewind* there are other people suffering too.

– Assyrian Christians are said to make up 3-5% of Iraq’s population, yet reports from international NGOs state they represent 40-50% of the Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) and refugees in surrounding territories and the West. How about now? Bigot!

Our story is simply lost amid generalisations. Iraq is viewed as a blanket mess not worth sifting through. There is no doubt that all Iraqis are suffering, but none are suffering more than the Assyrian Christian ethno-religious minority, and that must be made clear. More must be done as this is the case. What we get here is a hollow liberal agenda which condescendingly overlooks particularities and complex problems, and a conservatism more often concerned with attacking our persecutors than empowering the very people who are being attacked.

So, who says there is too much bad news? The fact is there isn’t enough.

“Downsize your Dreams”, we are Told.

I have come across a podcast today on the Guardian website entitled Careers Talk – The Graduate Job Formula and I have to say, I was livid. (Predictable, yes, but I wouldn’t be writing this if I was delighted, would I?)

The podcast was conducted by four girls who chuckled more or less throughout, in what I believe was a botched attempt to take this serious matter seriously.

The situation presented is a familiar one:

Art student finishes enjoyable degree and enters the employment world ambitious, creative, full of ideas, and impatient to start working in a field he or she loves. Art student then finds most of the very few positions already filled by Oxbridge candidates or those who had the resources to undertake free work, travelling, and all manner CV building unrelated to the person’s actual ability. Art student, dejected and crestfallen, retreats into obscurity and works odd jobs until dream can be realised.

Unfortunately, the dream is often not realised because of the webs we are woven into.

These girls disagree. They say working in a call centre, for example, can be a very positive experience where many skills can be fleeced in return for some cognitive downtime.

The positives which were mentioned were as follows:

The training. Oh yes, the training. Knowing what button on the phone unit to press and how to speak to people, yes, I did not learn these things when I was a child, I must have been too busy dissecting Lego from my arse.

Understanding the legal issues. Call centres can be very challenging places to work in. A tech support call centre have an influx of distressed people with broken computers or broken lives which require real expert advice. But lets face it, you won’t be in a call centre like that because that requires years of training and probably a degree, and most importantly, some kind of passion for it. You’re more likely to be working in a sales role smiling your face off at a cold computer screen. Legal issues? Yeah, don’t swear at the idiot on the phone, which leads me nicely into…

Learning how to deal with difficult people. “We all have to deal with difficult people at some stage in our career…” was how this positive was framed. Indeed, we do. However, a difficult person being difficult about something you could not give a crumb of crap about is far different from a difficult person being difficult about something you are enthusiastic and passionate about. Chances are, you don’t care for that insurance you’re shotting, or the cable deal, or mobile phone, or whatever modern trinket we busy ourselves with these days.

And my favourite:

Future employers will know you are very hardworking. I can’t fault them here, they are right. You must be very hardworking, determined, dogged, resolute, and all of the other superlatives which also fit well with the Catholic Church’s attitude in covering up its child abuse scandal. Working in a call centre is textbook training for being another expendable entity in a system which is intent on maximising the commodification of labour, creating worker bots who simply generate wealth for the elites. Basically, your future employer will know you will do all your work, and usually theirs, without complaint or call for better treatment.

 

imageYou’ll be sitting next L9JKV811.

By the way, I’m actually a balding, pugnacious man who hates you.

 

We are told we would be “work ready” after our ordeal. Having our ambitions bludgeoned by big business, who wouldn’t be ready for the particular employment market which awaits our fall from grace?

We are told to present our experiences at these call dungeons “intelligently” on our CVs, with the assumption that we won’t naively on their minds. What else are we to do? Write down we hated everything about it to the point where we daydreamed about suicide in our breaks?

“No, be honest, it was good for you. You just don’t know it.”

These four girls, who are expanding their journalism portfolio and are, from what I can surmise, doing what they want, have the cheek to preach to recent graduates about the CV goodness of putting down “Call Centre” as past or present employment, let alone actually enduring life as a call centre agent.

This is all presuming you can freely quit whenever you want, and have little debt to pay off in the inevitable gap between jobs where you have no income.

It is remarkably patronising and counter-productive to advise arts students to “be realistic” about their career prospects without simultaneously addressing the negative, oppressive system they are graduating into. Of course, as usual, it must be the graduate’s fault, or the low income worker’s fault, or the unemployed person’s fault – wealth is out there, go get it like everyone else is. They almost want to say stop sucking at life.

It is infuriating having such short-sighted people exercise some kind of false authority in this subject when they are clearly ignoring the public mood and have no idea about the global picture—and at the same time carve a career out of it in such an important field—journalism.

The most ironic part of the whole turgid conversation had later with a Professor was when he listed the key ingredients to give your job hunt the best chance. What ranked higher than anything else, according to him, was having good contacts. How worrying it is that graduates are expected to already have contacts without being previously employed.

“Dad, who was that guy you said would be interested in taking me on for a bit?”

Plainly put, we are becoming increasingly tired of papering over cracks, of having drivel being fed to us as news, of bailing out exploitative and opportunistic banks and funding illegal wars with public money, with government forever placating corporatists, with cementing the plutocracy, and with these geriatric “experts” making us feel like they “understand”.

The more we have people like these girls telling us to see the positives in slaving away in enormous call centres for people who view you as a screw in their wealth machine, the more desperate our society will become in overhauling itself.

Where is the identification of the new workforce and what it desires to do? If a lot of people are now taking arts based degrees, for example, where is the increase of arts based jobs? We are already seeing government cuts to these kind of jobs, with the Murdoch empire hovering like vultures over the BBC and any Tory plans which may call for its downsizing.

Collectively, people should determine what they want to do, and not corporations. There is a massive disconnection with the employment “market” and what people wish to do and study. We peer out of our university gates after three years only to realise these kind of jobs “are not there” and be told “not everyone can be artists”.

Of course they couldn’t; there would be no-one left to work for the elites who offer little material reward or fulfillment. There would also be even more competition for these journalism jobs.

The “Win-Win Situation” That Destroys Social Mobility.

20/08/2010 2 comments

I sit here a bitter man. Not because I have been recovering from a bout of food poisoning which has hampered my contributions to this space or an unexpected computer virus which compelled me to format my computer, but more crucially, unpaid internships continuing with no real sign of being reined in.

Graduates gain an experience and employers gain free labour – what’s the problem?

Unpaid internships ruin the chances of graduates from poorer families gaining valuable experience during their course and after they finish university. They contribute greatly to the very real brick wall that manifests as companies look for individuals who can basically pay them for the “experience”.

What good is it graduating from university with a degree which was at least part subsidised by the state through capped tuition costs and helpful low interest loans, only to emerge looking for a job in an employment environment populated by organisations who largely offer only unpaid internships?

The result of this process is the creation of two working worlds – one for the rich and one for the poor. Both the public and private sectors are guilty of this practice.

Below is the job description of a post I have recently found.

 

jobdesc1 …and make us a coffee. Cheers.

 

Now, that seems like a decent amount of work suitable for a graduate in their second role. The above is actually a position advertised on a British website inviting graduates to apply to an internship in the heart of Berlin. To compensate the graduate, a monthly “honorarium” of 500 EUR is offered to cover costs. Clearly, 500 EUR is not nearly enough to cover rent in the heart of Berlin, let alone the flight there and living expenses (nevermind actually doing the above).

This occurs everywhere, and nobody is really that bothered. Given the saturated job market due to the number of graduates, there must be some mechanism to filter out the applicants who do not make the grade required yet(?). This is necessary in today’s working world, but I believe the practice of unpaid internships unfairly discriminates against those who cannot even apply because they know they cannot afford it.

I don’t have to go to Berlin for such an example either, there are plenty much closer to home. With Thatcher’s realignment of everything valuable being in the heart of London and nowhere else, businesses have had to “go where the money is” and set up base in London, depriving the rest of the country from outlets graduates can apply to to practice their skills.

For example, a graduate from the North East of England who wants to start his career must be able to afford an internship in London to gain a foothold in their industry of choice. They cannot compete with those who are from London because Londoners simply have more opportunities to start and grow their career through unpaid internships they can afford.

This is not meritocratic; it is basically dynastic.

There remains little incentive for businesses and organisations to offer paid internships when there are affluent graduates who can depend on their parents to subsidise the “impressive” unpaid work they can choose undertake home and abroad. This is especially true in the nigh impregnable NGO sector where elitism is rife and managers tend to “revert to type”.

Many such organisations more recently complain of the economic downturn as the reason for the cycles of free labour they employ. Plain lies. I have seen very small organisations who comply with law by granting the National Minimum Wage, and I have seen some of the largest organisations make it explicitly clear they will not even pay expenses.

None are more guilty than the United Nations. Their internship offers no expenses whatsoever, despite the requirements of a flight to New York, rent and living expenses (a quoted sum of $5,000 for the internship in total). Not only do you have to pay this hefty fee to work for them for nothing, you have to be currently enrolled in graduate study.

This means the student will just have to have the money if they want the experience, with no option of working to save up for it available given the requirement to be already in full time education. Daddy’s wallet comes into play and the affluent graduate has their edge against the competition. If this isn’t simply buying experience, I don’t know what it. How is this fair?

 

UN Internship “Thanks dad!”

 

The simple fact is this: nobody should have to pay to be employed. When someone has parted with money to gain experience, a market system is in place where none should be. Of course the demand is high for careerists to scribble “United Nations” on their CV, but the supply of that experience should never be determined by how much money the applicant has to offer.

This is why interns must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage.

The employment process has lost its integrity given its marketisation. Tuition fees are capped for a reason – so the top universities in the country cannot charge more than the smaller less established universities. This is fair because admission should be primarily based on merit, not quantity of payment. Employment should operate similarly, but it doesn’t.

Whenever there is an avenue to influence, to gain and demonstrate power, and to accumulate wealth, the rich will devise ways to segregate the population and distract us with other problems. Powerful positions are simply reserved for those who have the “material pedigree”. Social mobility is intrinsic to what a democracy actually means, but it is lying dead in the water.

It must be said, the common myth is that social mobility has been in sharp decline for the last 20 years. This isn’t true; it has merely stabilised – not improved or worsened noticeably. The sharp decline commenced because of the free-market religion created during the height of the Cold War, with the unholy alliance of Thatcher and Reagan, its two most prominent advocates.

What we’re experiencing now is a “don’t rock the boat” approach undertaken by market-speak neo-liberals who are bereft of ideas. The answer always seems to be “charge for it” if it is free, or “charge more” if it is supposedly in high demand. The only market regulation which seems to exist is to deprive the poor of the product or opportunity to maintain its value.

Fairness is must be rooted in equal opportunities. It is those first few jobs which shape our attitude to life and help us identify what we truly want to do. When opportunities are unnecessarily limited at this stage, we “settle” for things we otherwise would not settle for. Our dreams become distant and naive, and we accept exploitation as if it defined maturity.

It doesn’t; it simply defines exploitation.

An old funny tweet created to rib conservatives goes: “if you have inherited hard all your life, you should be able to pass it on to your children”. Too right; here’s a load of money, my mansion, the keys to the BMW and your first job. None of these things bother me at all apart from the last gift enabled by our “job market” – that phrase alone is turning my stomach again.