- McJobs and Workers -

So why don't the masses all stand for something then ?

Posted by: The Trolley Dollies ( Northern Ireland ) on July 16, 1998 at 09:31:54:

In Reply to: Principles, pariahs and pickets... posted by Gideon Hallett on July 15, 1998 at 10:51:33:

: So yes, I'm an idealist. Never claimed otherwise. When it comes down to it, the "realists" follow the directions the idealists point in and I'm always going to be a goat rather than a sheep.

We're more inclined to believe that idealists have their heads in the clouds, and realists are more in touch with what is going on day to day on the ground.

: As someone famously put it; "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything".

So why don't the masses all stand for something then ? What's holding them back ? You're probably going to say it's the realists. But maybe the idealists aren't in touch with them enough, and there is no feeling of a shared common objective.

: On the contrary. They have lost their jobs and they have been slandered by their ex-employer, because they tried to defend an elderly co-worker from unwarranted abuse by someone higher up in the chain of command. They might not have much more to lose, but they have definitely lost something.

We only know what they are telling us.

: This does not give the employer carte blanche to abuse employees. It does not matter if the crew person only works there for a day; as an employee, they have inalienable rights to decent treatment. In this respect, the Social Chapter of the EU is a Good Thing.

Fair enough, but it doesn't make them care enough about it to want to be unionized.

: : 3. Most crew are satisfied with their jobs. If they aren't, they leave. At that level, one job is pretty much like another. There are very few jobs that don't have their downsides.

: True, but in this case the attitude of the employer makes things worse without cause. And as the largest fast food company, McDonald's sets precedents for staff treatment throughout the fast food industry.

: If I may quote Justice Bell, in his verdict on McDonald's employment practices:

: "The Second Plaintiff does pay its workers low wages, thereby helping
: to depress wages for workers in the catering trade in Britain. To this extent the defamatory charge in the leaflet is partly justified.

McDonald's are already paying the recommended minimum wage. There are many jobs paid worse by large companies. Look at what security companies pay their security guards. Less than 2 an hour in some places. Even the Labour government are considering a lower min wage for younger people. Look at what the average age of crew is. If McDonald's said OK, let's give an extra 1 an hour they'd probably get the blame for a big rise in inflation due to all that extra cash washing about on the high street ! We're not saying the wages are high, Justice Bell says they are low, but so are most retail jobs. Low compared to what ? A Justices salary ? They are high compared to what a school leaver gets on the dole.

: Proper breaks are subject to the demands of custom in the Second Plaintiff's restaurants. This means that they are often taken early or late in a shift, or cut short. Adequate drink breaks are not always easy to come by. The result is that crew can work hard for long periods without adequate breaks. I would expect the position to be the same in the U.S. because the pressures are the same.

Our crew get their full breaks plus drink breaks when requested and it's reasonable (i.e. not busy). If working a close shift, we allow the crew 10 minutes wind down (paid) after the doors are shut and before the cleaning up starts. We never force crew to take breaks early. We observe the fact that an early break leaves a long period afterwards, and if the crew member wants to take an early break, we get them to save 10 / 15 mins for later on in the shift. This is always their choice, not ours. The managers work hard to ensure noone goes past 6 hours without a break. True, we call crew back if we get busy, but we always ensure that the rest of their break is taken. If they left their meal or drink it is replaced. This system works well in our stores due to cooperation and understanding between the crew and managers.

: The prime purpose of a Union is, as I've said elsewhere, to provide a fair balance between employer and employee. As such, this process can only work properly if both sides are allowed to voice their opinions equally. If, as in McDonald's case, the union is not recognised (which is a breach of both EU law (the Social Chapter)and US law (as the UN Decl. of H.R. is part of U.S. law)) then the balance of power is shifted unfairly towards the employer, allowing them to get away with unfair treatment of employees.

: It's called the Dignity of Labour. Yes, it is a principle, and one that is most conspicuously absent in sweatshops. It's because your employees are human beings too, and have a right to fair treatment.

This is not a point about whether the union should be there, we mean that most crew really don't care. At the end of the day it's the small things that have all the significance, like getting the days off they requested, or if the TV in the crew room isn't working, having it fixed. If something isn't real and viable to them they aren't interested, and unfortunately the principles of unions would be a complete turn off. Unions have the impression, for many young ones, as being full of middle aged men huffing and puffing, standing around burning braziers in the freezing cold shouting SCAB. How can they relate to that ?

: Funnily enough, I don't see this as a necessary event. Many industries get along just fine with unionized staff. All the unions are asking is a reasonably decent treatment for their workers - conflict may ensue if the management want to exploit their workforce, but this has been the case since the days of the Chartists.

People in ALL situations exploit things that happens to them, usually for their own gain and not for anyone elses benefit, or to set a precedent. How many times have you heard the injured party claiming they took action not for the financial benefits, but so that someone else doesn't go through the same ? It rings hollow.

: First off, it didn't rain! And the walk did me good.

We hope you don't make a habit of it Gideon. If enough of you stop using the Tube there'll be redundancies - and more strikes !!

: As to the unions crippling Britain, would this be the same country that had its entire primary industrial base sold off by the Tories?

These industries were union dominated and were dinosaurs as a result. No wonder the Tories got shut - make it someone elses headache and if it collapses it's not the country's loss. Unfortunately, if it succeeds it's not the country's gain. But the motivation to make these companies work is the greed of those with major stakes in them. What was the motivation for the people running them as nationalized industries ?

: Can you blame the unions for trying to oppose the mass redundancy of their workers? It's their job to try and defend them.

OK. Keep the workers in jobs, even though the company is not profitable. That's not economice sense, it's suicide. It doesn't work. It's a cold hard reality in today's economic climate. Too bad, so sad. Or trim down, shed a few jobs in the hope the situation can be salvaged, and maybe later there'll be expansion.
Finally, the "me" generation has a bit to learn, and rather fast, as our civilisation is approaching the rocks rapidly (see any number of previous posts of mine about global warming, resource depletion, general bad ecological stuff and so on in the Capitalism and Anything Else rooms). According to the Powers that Be, at 24, I should be a greedy little moneygrubbing capitalist. Can't see it, myself.

At least we agree here. It's a sad fact of life that people are selfish. We blame the national lottery especially for lighting up the signs in everyones eyes.

: The UN Internation Panel on Climate Change is saying we've got 50 years left. We need to start working together, or we will see unprecedented human suffering. Of course, that might well involve very un-"me generation" collectivisation and *gasp* socialism, but so be it.

: As something for the "me" generation to meditate on, here's a famous passage written by John Donne in 1624 (a month before he died);

: "No man is an island, entire unto itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod is washed away by the sea, Europe is the lesser, as well as if a promontry were, as well as if manor of thy friends, or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.

: And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls.
: It tolls for thee."

How eloquent Gideon. We think you're cool. Party on dude !

The Trolley Dollies

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