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Why Work? (2)

Long ago, technology promised that it would free us from the mundane tasks of life and work so we would have more free time to enjoy ourselves. It was long heralded the imminent arrival of the "post-industrial society" in which automation will have done away with work and our main problem will be how to cope with an excess of leisure. But it is only in a rational (i.e., socialist) society, where the means of life serve the community as a whole, that higher productivity will equal less work and capitalism is not a sane society.
Capitalist production is not primarily about supplying needs it is about making profit and accumulating capital. It can only work with a constant market pressure to renew its capacity for sales. Under capitalism a surplus of commodities, in excess of market capacity means they cannot be sold for a profit. This can bring about recession, workers thrown out of jobs, governments having to pay out more in doles when strapped for cash trying to finance a r…

The Unpaid Over-worked "Angels"

The NHS in Scotland is close to breaking point, with most nurses claiming they are forced to work overtime to meet patient needs, a new report has found. A majority of nurses say patient care is suffering because of the pressure they are under, according to a staff survey by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). Nurses are going unpaid for the extra hours they work because this was not agreed in advance, the report reveals, and time back in lieu cannot be taken because this would leave colleagues even more short staffed.

Nearly 2,000 nursing posts have been axed in Scotland in recent years. The survey finds that 54 per cent of nurses are working beyond their contracted hours each week in order to meet demands, with 58 per cent saying they are under too much pressure. More than half (55 per cent) say they are not providing the level of care they want to as the pressure builds. Only 38.1 per cent in Scotland say they would choose nursing as a career if they had to do it all again.

Norman…

Giving your right arm for the job

A sawmill firm has been fined £30,000 after a young worker was injured in a "wholly avoidable" accident. Damian Gawlowski, 20, lost full use of his arm after it was pulled into unguarded machinery at Tennants (Elgin) Ltd.

Health and Safety Executive principal inspector Niall Miller said: "This incident was wholly avoidable. HSE said its investigation revealed that the saw-blade guard was positioned incorrectly. Additionally, Mr Gawlowski was not trained to use the machine and was left unsupervised despite his inexperience.

"Mr Gawlowski was let down by the company's lack of proper training, inadequate assessment of risks and ineffective measures to stop access to dangerous parts of equipment." He added: "From Mr Gawlowski's point of view, his life has been destroyed. He is unable to go back to work, unable to use his hand and he relies on others for many of the tasks of daily living."

The Invisible Unemployed

Unemployment may be falling in Scotland in recent months but there is an ongoing increase in the number of people in part-time work and in temporary jobs.

There were 652,000 part-time workers in Scotland in the year to March 2010, but this had risen by 36,000 by March this year. The number of temporary workers has jumped 10,000 since June last year and stood at 128,000 in the year to 20 March. That is near enough a third of all Scottish workers.

 Some workers will choose to work fewer hours, it is estimated that about a 250,000 Scottish workers are “underemployed”.

National figures show that 330,000 more people are underemployed in the UK than in 2010, including 200,000 with dependent children.

Keith Dryburgh, policy manager at Citizens Advice Scotland, warned “Citizens Advice bureaux are increasingly seeing people who want to work longer hours but cannot find them in a difficult economic climate. These are people who are struggling to make ends meet, and yet are often ‘invisible’ in…

The Worker's Lot

You are an employee, a diligent worker, and have served the company loyally for a number of years. Your pay was not particularly high, but you managed to survive and raise a family. You are a decent and law-abiding citizen.


Then one fine day you are informed your services are no longer needed. In plain words: you are redundant. There is a recession, they say. “Nobody is to blame. Business is bad,” they say.
The employer has no more work for you. He scaling back production or closing down the plant altogether. While you remain without a livelihood, the CEO goes to his country estate or abroad to his villa in the Sun to have a good time. He is still well-off, recession or no recession. These hard times has not made a single chairman of the board or director of the large corporations homeless to beg in the streets. Your ex-boss does not care what will happens to you. You no longer are employed by the company and therefore no longer exist for it. The company has no obligations towards t…

The Tyranny of Work

The mental health of Scottish workers is being put at risk thanks to the "relentless pressure" of management systems meant to increase their productivity. Unions and researchers claim workers have suffered extreme stress, depression and in a few cases threatened suicide.  Austerity has allowed some firms to use management techniques to make their staff's lives a misery.

The impact on the mental health of employees was highlighted in the report Performance Management And The New Workplace Tyranny. Phil Taylor, professor of work and employment studies at the university in Glasgow, carried out the research.  He said performance management had evolved into a "continuous, all-encompassing" process of "tight monitoring and strict target compliance".

Taylor said: "Many who have been in the workplace for 10, 15, 20 years, talk with great pain about how the workplace they joined has been transformed beyond all recognition over those decades and the asp…

She-Town

In 1900 Dundee was associated with one product: jute. Jute was the cheapest of fibres, but it was tough. As such it was the ideal packing material. Jute bagging and jute sacks were used to carry cotton from the American South, grain from the Great Plains and Argentina, coffee from the East Indies and Brazil, wool from Australia, sugar from the Caribbean and nitrates from Chile. Dundee was ‘Juteopolis’ – synonymous with its main industry. This association of place and product was not unusual. We still link Clydebank with ships, Sheffield with steel, Stoke-on-Trent with pottery. Throughout the late nineteenth century, over half of Dundee's workforce worked in the textile sector, which, from the 1860s on, was dominated by jute. Migrant workers arrived in Dundee in thousands. By the end of the 19th century, the city had quadrupled in size. Many of the immigrants were from Ireland, poor and Catholic. Many Catholic Irish immigrants faced discrimination and bigotry in Presbyterian Scot…

Tough at the top? Not really

Capitalists love touting the benefits of trickle-down economics. It is a rationalization of inequality. By linking the welfare of the working-class  directly to the prosperity of the rich, they can protect the interests of corporations and the wealthy without the fear of backlash.

The investment banking hierarchy is essentially a large bureaucracy. At the bottom are the manual unskilled maintenance staff like security guards, the janitors and the cleaners who keep the offices safe and warm and clean. Then there are the administrative assistants, who support several bankers at one time and make about $35,000 a year. Above them are the analysts, college graduates whose life consists of 120-hour work weeks and an endless stream of menial tasks for $65,000 to $90,000 a year. Next up, and supported by the analysts, are the associates -- freshly minted MBAs with more than a $100,000 in school loans hanging over them -- who can look forward to taking home between $100,000 and $175,000 a yea…

Wage slavery or liberation from toil

Overall real wages have scarcely budged in the 1990s in America, and earnings for college-educated workers actually declined by more than 6 percent. Productivity per person-hour increased by 5 percent between 2009 and 2010. 

These days, workers are expected to be on call 24/7—24 hours per day, seven days per week. Seen in this light, innovations like flexi-time or working from home are in fact strategies to bring new sorts of workers—mostly women—into the job market and to subject them to a new set of (frequently electronic) rules and controls.

Think about it. Fifteen years ago, would you have taken a job if you had to be available every day, respond to messages from your boss late at night, and maintain contact with the office while on vacation?  But today just about any job, especially the good ones, exhibit precisely this oppressive 24/7 character. At the same time technology has redefined labor into assembly-line piecework and new gadgets have allowed our less inviting piecework t…

Hitting the vulnerable

Tens of thousands of sick and disabled people in Scotland face being forced on to unpaid work programmes under threat of losing their benefits from tomorrow. People with a range of physical or mental health conditions could find themselves stacking shelves in high-street stores such as Tesco and Poundland, or cleaning private homes, under the new proposals. They are to be told that they must take unpaid positions or risk losing up to 70% of their employment support allowance. 

 Across the UK, some 340,000 disabled people have been placed in the work related activity group (WRAG), which means they must undertake a range of activities to help them get back to work, including training, job-hunting – and now mandatory work placements.

 Most disabled people welcome support to get into the labour market, but compulsory placements rarely work, says Richard Hamer, director of external affairs at Capability Scotland. "When disabled people get forced into jobs, they tend to be …

Old, Sick and Broke

A person born today will be forced to work until they are 77 years old before they become eligible for a state pension, according to a new report. The report, by the world’s largest accountancy firm PwC, also states that people in their late 30s today can expect to work until they are 70 before they can claim their state pension. The prospect of 70 and 80-year-olds in the workforce will soon become a reality, according to Professor Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University Management School.

Alison Fleming, head of pensions at PwC in Scotland, said: “The era of retiring in your 60s is facing extinction with many people born today facing a future of work from 17 through to 77."

Age Scotland said that poorer people live shorter lives and so will have to sacrifice a larger portion of their retirement under the new plans.

Lindsay Scott, a spokesman for Age Scotland, said “Do not rely on the government to make provisions for your old age as …
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has called for a new body to be set up to protect workers from abuse and exploitation by bosses. In the past two years, Scottish citizens advice bureaux have handled 107,000 cases where people claimed to have been treated unfairly at work. CAS said it feared that could be the tip of the iceberg.

The Fair Employment report said one of the "key features" of the recession had been that "many employers retained staff on less generous terms and conditions rather than making large numbers of employees redundant". While it said this was "usually preferable" to redundancy, it claimed cutting workers' hours and wages could have a significant impact. The report stated: "As a result of the fragmented enforcement regime, our evidence shows that many employees are unable to raise and resolve poor practices that they experience at work. This leaves some employers free to continue inadequate and sometimes illegal employm…

Lazy Workers ?

New research shows that 49 per cent of working parents don't use up all of their holiday allowance, and that one in five of us simply can't take enough time off work to get away. We are becoming a nation where the notion of a fortnight away from it all is fast becoming a thing of the past.

Rebecca Taylor, web editor and mother of one said "The reason families don't spend enough holiday time together is because we are all desperately clinging to the jobs we do have in order to earn just enough to pay our huge childcare bills. Some mothers I know haven't managed a proper fortnight off since they gave birth."

Nicola Chappell, who has worked in TV for the past 20 years, says in that time, she has witnessed an almost complete transformation of attitudes. "I always make sure I take every single day of holiday that's owed to me but I've noticed that younger people in the office don't seem to take any. It's freelance culture – they'…

"this is an announcement..."

Angry Edinburgh call centre staff have hit out after being told by bosses they were getting the sack - over speaker phone. Up to 200 workers at Sykes (Europe) offices in Calder Road were told that they had 90 days to find new jobs after a major account was lost to a rival firm.

Workers said they were told there would be no further employment opportunities at Sykes unless they spoke a second language. After the call ended on the speaker phone one of the team leaders just said 'right, go back to your desks and log in'. The worker added:"We have been told that there are no other opportunities unless you speak German or Italian."

One worker said: "We were packed into a conference room, about 80 of us, and the account manager for O2 came on the speaker phone to explain that a firm in Ireland had come in to do the work cheaper and we would have 90 days before the contract was ended...People were really shocked because we were never told losing the account was a possibi…

The caring unpaid over-worked angels

Nurses are "propping up" the health service by consistently working over their contracted hours and providing last-minute shift cover.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotlandfound just one in 10 nurses feel they have good staffing levels where they work. 96% of nurses reported working in excess of their contracted hours, with a quarter saying they did so every shift. One in six said they rarely or never took the breaks to which they were entitled. 29% said they missed their meal time at work at least three times a week. One in five nurses said that in the last six months they had spent a week or more at work despite feeling too ill to be there. Another 29% said they provided last-minute cover for absentee staff at least on a fortnightly basis.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland said there were "serious concerns" for patient care in the NHS

The will to work

Following on from the previous post, the Prince's Trust has released a report that the vast majority of young people from jobless families have struggled to find work and many simply expect to live off state handouts. 73 per cent of youngsters with parents who do not have a job in Scotland have found getting work difficult, and one in five reported feeling anxious about their future prospects because of their parents' unemployment. According to official UK government statistics, 16 per cent of Scottish children live in a family in which nobody has a job and the new findings have led to calls for more to be done to end a "cycle of worklessness" among Scottish youngsters.

Geraldine Gammell, the director of The Prince's Trust Scotland, which works with young people to help them into work, said: "Too many young people in Scotland are facing a cycle of worklessness and can't see a way out. It is a tragedy to think that so many feel condemned to a life of unemp…

Banking crisis - who pays the price ?

“I get up in the morning crying and go to bed crying.You go in to work and you hope you won’t tear up. But somebody does, nearly every day.” The problem? Fear, says Jane. “We are all scared. We are all afraid of getting paid off. Maybe because of the way the building is, the fear just seems to move across the room. But they are disciplining us for everything, including clerical errors and timekeeping.” The building is open-plan. “When someone cracks up, we all see it,” she explains. “You’ll hear the sobbing and see her pals huddle around her." Middle managers, she keeps stressing, are just as scared as their employees.

Jim McCourt, who runs the Inverclyde Advice and Employment Rights Centre, says he has seen a lot of stressed-out RBS workers since 2008. "I have been doing this job for 15 years and I have never seen any company that is so unnecessarily brutal.”

From the Herald

sleepless nights

Three out of four workers are losing sleep worrying about job security, performance at work and finances, with civil servants, bankers and factory workers the worst affected.

Leigh McCarron, sleep director at Travelodge, said: “It is no surprise that those industries facing spending cuts and potential job losses came top. Job security and money worries are key drivers of stress.”