Monday, 31 May 2010
Living in a civilised society I learnt in history class about our progress past feudal societies and the breakthrough of the trade unions. I was told I was lucky to live in the first world people could work in fair conditions and get paid for the work they do. Recently I've had to question whether this is in fact true.
Take my husband, for example, he has a very good job with a lot of responsibility. He does his job well and is committed to his employer. They repay this by expecting him to work very long hours with no overtime. He has a dastardly Blackberry, whose little red light ensures that as long as Skip is awake he's got at least some of his mind on the job. Holidays? That's just dealing with work from a different location. Unfortunately, his employer expects this kind of dedication. It's what's needed to do the job apparently.
My husband is far from unusual, a lot of people I know work in a similar. It's the norm, these days. Admittedly I'm probably a little bitter today as I've had to drive Skip to the airport yet again for another work jaunt.
Technology has ensured that employers are able to get last pound of flesh out their staff. Blackberries, laptops, iPhones, whatever - people can now work from public transport, at home, on weekends, when sick, when on holidays, whenever. No longer can people leave work at work and walk out the door and have a life. Life is the little bits that happens when the Blackberry isn't flashing.
Don't get me wrong, I believe in good honest hard work, I just feel that work has slowly crept more and more and more into 'off' hours and family life. Maybe we've been so bedazzled by technology and the ease of it we've allowed it to take over too much. Technology has insidiously become so much a part of our lives we can't seem to turn it off, we just blindly accept that's how it has to be.
Never giving people a break, time to rest their minds or live their lives is incredibly dangerous. Our workers should be more than robots who we replace when they've burnt out. Has our society become so disposable that we think: "Oh well, if they can't do the job anymore, we'll get someone else who can." It undermines the respect we should have knowledge and experience.
In the mean time, I encourage those around me who live like that to take time out for themselves. Visit places that are incommunicado, turn off your mind with yoga and meditation, do lots of exercise, take care of yourself. Though these are only band-aid solutions.
I often hear from people I know, strangers on the radio, in the line at the supermarket that it's 'just what you have to do' and 'it will be worth it one day'. I have my doubts.