McDonald's and employment|
Work is a pillar of society without which almost nothing can be created, produced or done. Yet people have almost no say in what work gets done, in how it gets done or who it gets done by. The power is in the hands of employers and big business in general, who are only concerned with their profits.
The industrial revolution has transformed the nature of work from being primarily home-based and land-based activity for local needs, into a factory, shop and office-based global capitalist economy. This involves the exploitation of natural resources and the mass-production and distribution of a huge range of highly sophisticated products. As corporations increasingly decide to develop manufacturing in poorer countries with lower wage and other costs, jobs in western countries are becoming more technology and service orientated.
The improved wages and conditions won by the strikes and struggles of organised labour over the last 100 years are being undermined. Jobs are becoming increasingly low-paid, non-union, temporary or part-time employment with few guaranteed rights and conditions. Its not hard to see why they've been termed 'McJobs' - McDonald's worldwide employs over one and a half million workers, over half of them under 21yrs old. It has been calculated that a staggering 10% of all workers in the USA get their first job at McDonald's.
The fast food giant has helped pioneer employment practices based on low pay and few rights coupled with arduous production-line work. And on top of this they've pioneered,world-wide, a psychology of control over their 'crew' to motivate their young workers to identify with idiotic company goals rather than their own individual and collective needs and rights. Many other companies are now following McDonald's example.
Of course, wherever there is exploitation or oppression, there is dissatisfaction and resistance. The labour movement is attempting to resist the spread of McJobs in general, and has had skirmishes with McDonald's in various countries. People with any experience tend to refuse to work in their stores, leading to recruitment difficulties and high turnover.
Ultimately workers have the power, when they organise together, to challenge those who employ and control them. They can also question what they are being forced to produce and why, and decide what to do to change things. Bosses need workers, but do workers need bosses?