I blog about environmental and social justice issues because I am very concerned about the health of the interdependent web of life of which we are a part.

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Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Response


After reading the above article I wrote to Merge.  I have posted my response below.

Dear Merge:

Your article entitled How To Inspire the Close-to-Retirement  Employee has inspired me to write after quite a bit of reflection on my part.  

In my 30s, I worked as an accountant in public practice.  My chargeable hours totalled 2200 hours per annum.  Just in case you aren't clutching your pearls in astonishment as you fumble for your smelling salts,  I'll spell it out:  2200 hours is an incredible attainment.  To achieve that, I worked 40 hours per week like any person with a full time job.  In addition, during our "slow" time, I worked every evening Monday to Thursday and all day Saturday. In tax time, I worked all the time.   I mean that.   I remember security coming in at 1:00 am and asking me to go home.  I did, but I was back in the office by 7:00 am.  What about holidays, you ask?  I am of Scandinavian extraction and my family celebrates Christmas on Christmas  Eve.  Big dinner with all the clan - present opening - laughter - the works.   I remember a Christmas Eve when I looked out of the office while we were all frantically finishing up a few last minute things before the Christmas break, and saw that every other office tower downtown was dark.  Every Last. Building.  At that point, I said I was going home to my family.  Bossy dearest was livid.  Scrooge like, he screamed that I had the next day off.  His anger that evening was nothing compared to the day that I told him I had to have a week off to have a lump taken out of my neck. I was lucky it wasn't cancer:  if it had been, I wouldn't have had a job if I had been unable to work while receiving cancer treatment.  

You will argue that mine was an isolated case - that my boss was a manipulative workaholic.  He certainly was but I suggest that you read Modern Times, Ancient Hours:  Working Hours in the 21st Century by Pietro Basso: you will realize that  all employees face pressure at work.  In a way, I'm lucky as I have a professional accounting designation and accountants are in short supply.  Today's edition of the Globe and Mail states that  " a host of factors are eroding job quality" and discusses how employers lack commitment to employees in the long term  (page B 5, Report on Business Weekend.)

Ours is  a greedy,  dysfunctional culture  and workplaces reflect that.   Work is often a demoralizing and shattering experience.   Perhaps age does bring wisdom: I'm not buying your suggestion that I produce more and  that I mentor younger people to "leave a legacy."   I just do my job and go home.  If my current employer doesn't like my "coasting"  they can fire me and pay for the privilege.

And you , madam, are promoting manipulative techniques  to squeeze a little more productivity out of workers instead of reflecting on the root causes of the oppressiveness of the workplace.

What does this have to with the environment and climate change?    What is the difference between ruthlessly exploiting the environment and exploiting workers?    No much - it's the same mindset.   There's a lack of empathy for other humans - other living things - or the earth in each.  

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