Unskilled workers and the unemployed: organise, or die on your feet slowly

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

Original article, by Hamish McLaren, via Socialist Appeal (UK):

2008 makes for a sad story, and in 2009, the working class will begin really paying for it. Some of the worst to be affected will be young unskilled workers; cleaners, shop-workers and caterers, like myself. Minimum wage workers at the best of times, we have, during the period of boom (which apparently was the last 10 years, although no one told us) eked out an existence, hovering from one place to the next for as long as moral holds out. Most I have worked with were young, often migrants, demoralised but unorganised and so usually without contracts of employment and subject to very poor working conditions.

So far in this economic crisis we’ve heard lots about the financiers and the banksters. We’ve also heard about the automotive industry and how the workers are being blamed for their slowdown. Now is a good time to hear from the services ‘industry’ and how things are going there. This is from England, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that conditions are much the same here in the US.

In 2008 I worked in a pub, one of a chain of a very well known free house. Known to many for cheap grub and beer, but not for poor working conditions. This particular East London establishment was infested with rats. They ran behind the bar, into the kitchen and the restaurant, on a daily basis. We eventually all complained vocally to the management (in front of astonished customers); a phone call later and we were told to accept it or hit the road. Later that day all staff members were made to sign contracts on company headed paper promising not to talk about the rat problem (or other problems of this nature) to customers, family or friends, and if we did we would be sacked.

Continue reading the original article. McLaren does a good job of pointing out how those who are unorganized are picked apart by their bosses. He makes this powerful statement that I think we should all pay attention to:

And so, as young unskilled workers join the ranks of the quickly expanding unemployed, tipped to be 3 million by the end of the year, and the permanently unemployed, options are fast running out. The cold reality is that there are only two options, organise, or die on your feet, slowly. And this will not stand!

It’s good to know that at least one union, the IWW, is working in the states to organize workers at businesses such as Starbucks.  Perhaps it is time that we all look at our working situations and see if they would be improved by organizing.  We see how bad things can get when the bosses and the politicos run things into the ground (and it will get worse before it, perhaps, gets better).  It’s time for workers to have a say on how the economy is run, as they see first hand every day how their businesses are going.

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  1. I’ve oft’ said that they’re trying to rid us of “immigrants” so that Americans will fill those jobs held by them previously.  Yes, can’t you see it now?  Regular U.S. citizens washing dishes, trimming lawns, cleaning off tables, etc. and no benefits!

  2. are the at-will employment laws.

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