When Naomi Klein finished her university, there was a problem of recession and just few of her friends had a job. Job disappearing was the result of the tough economic times that seemed to be affecting everyone.
When the jobs came back the problem was that they came back changed. Workers had to accept lower wages and diminished security just to maintain their job.
From Job Creators to Wealth Creators
Only in the past four years corporations began to speak about their aversion to hire people. Multinationals that once boasted about their role as „engines of job growth“ and used it to extract all kinds of government support now identify themselves as engines of „economic growth“.
As the economy grows, the percent of people employed is decreasing. In 1998 U.S. corporations eliminated 677,000 permanent jobs. That was the demonstration that the relationship between workers and their corporate employers have nothing to do with either the unemployment rate and the relative health of the economy.
It appears that good jobs are bad for the business, bad for the economy and should be avoided at all cost. America has a low unemployment rate. In Canada unemployment is 8.3 percent, and in the European Union it is 11.5 percent.
People often feel betrayed by companies. We live in a culture of job insecurity. Workers weeping at the factory gate, boarded-up windows of a hollowed-out factory town and people sleeping in doorways and on sidewalks have been among the most powerful economic images of our time. These images reflect an economy that puts profit before people. Such images seem to be a warning for the generation that came of age after the recession and was told to lower their expectations, and rely on no one.
Also, part-time and low-wage work does not bring about the same identification with one's employer as the lifelong contracts of yesterday did. If you go to any mall fifteen minutes after the stores close you'll see the new employment relationship in action. All the minimum-wage clerks are lined up, their purses and backpacks open for "bag check." It's standard practice, retail workers will tell you, for managers to search them daily for stolen goods.
According to an annual industry survey conducted by the University of Florida's Security Research Project, there is reason for suspicion: the study showed that employees' theft accounted for 42.7 percent of the total amount of goods stolen from U.S. retailers in 1998. Starbucks clerk Steve Emery likes to quote a line: "You pay peanuts, so you get monkeys."
Permatemps are almost unparalleled in their rancour. Asked by journalists what they think of their employer, they offer up such choice comments as: "They treat you like pond scum" or "It's a system of having two classes of people, and instilling fear and inferiority and loathing."
Divestment: A Two-Way Transaction
Unlike their parents, young people tend not to see the place where they work as "an extension of their souls". Among the total number of working-age adults in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., those with full-time, permanent jobs working for someone other than themselves are in the minority. Most young workers are temps, part-timers, unemployed who have given up looking for jobs.
From No Jobs to No Logo
It is no exaggeration to say that the "strongest" brands are the ones generating the worst jobs. The companies that advertise aggressively on MTV, Channel One and in Details, selling sneakers, jeans, fast food and Walkmans, are the very ones that brought about this difficult situation.
After pumping young people up with messages like "Just Do It", "No Fear" and "No Excuses", these companies have responded to job requests with a resounding "Who, me?"
Anna Tonello, TSŠ-SMSi Rovinj-Rovigno
No Logo by Naomi Klein, Breeding Disloyalty: What goes Round, Comes Round
Ein Text! Sie
Mrs. Klein opens the chapter talking about the dramatic changes that have been affecting the labour force. Factory jobs are being transferred to outside suppliers in order to reduce the costs, full and secure employment is being replaced with temporary contracts and CEOs are purging half the employees.
Different industries are all doing the same thing: trying to cut ties to their workforce. Corporations want part-timers, temps and freelancers to help them keep the expenses low.
It seems that steady employment with benefits and security has gone out of style. So far the companies haven’t been able to free themselves from the “excessive” number of employees.
Clerks are still needed to sell goods at the point of purchase. However, big-brand employers think clerks don’t really need or deserve job security and livable wages. They are seen as students looking for summer, unstable, low-paying and part-time jobs. Over the past two decades, the importance of the service sector as a source of jobs has soared, but these jobs are just hobbies and the retail is a place where you go for “experience”.
People keep telling themselves ‘I’m only here temporarily because I’m going to find something better’ and most of the big brands pay the legal minimum wage. Fast-food and retail-sector jobs are unfit for adults so young workers are consistently hired over older ones.
Adults have to leave their jobs because they can’t make enough money. When the sector pays decently, it attracts older workers but this is rarely considered.
The main purpose of the companies is to become dominant in their market. In this way, new outlets come before workers. Many brands including McDonald’s, Wal-Mart and Starbucks have fought off unionization, fired the employees and threatened to close down the outlets.
There is an increasing reliance on part-timers and many employers give their workers duties of a full-time employee but they don’t pay overtime or guarantee full-time hours. Young people work for nothing at media conglomerates, like Interview, MTV, CBS News, which insist that they are generously offering precious experience, the so-called internship.
The problem is that you can’t take the internship unless you can get supported by your parents for a couple of months, and from being an intern, you can only become a temp (temporary worker).
The use of temp labour has increased greatly in the whole world but the most dramatic growth is taking place in Western Europe, where the temp agencies are among the fastest-growing companies.
Every day, 4.5 million workers are assigned to jobs through temp agencies in Europe and the US Temps are no longer that temporary. In the United States, 29% stay at the same posting for a year or more.
What about the great new jobs in the growing high-tech world? The golden era of geek has gone and today’s high-tech jobs are as unstable as any other. Bill Gates has already converted one-third of his general workforce into temps. They work side by side with members of the core group and perform many of the same jobs.
Some have been with the company for so long that they call themselves “permatemps”. Trouble began in 1990 when the Internal Revenue Service said the temps were actually employees of Microsoft and the company should pay their payroll tax. A group of these employees launched a lawsuit against the company and Microsoft lost. Then, they started to hire employees through agencies that act as the official employer so they didn’t have to pay the tax.
Many of Microsoft’s high-tech freelancers are freelancers by choice. They have decided to consider independence and mobility more important than security and loyalty. Individuals must abandon the idea of being employees and try to open their very own brand.
Debora Mofardin, tsŠ-SMSI Rovinj-Rovigno
No Logo by Naomi Klein, Threats and Temps: From Working for Nothing to «Free Agent Nation»