There was one job that really shaped my views on the world. I was reminded strongly of my feelings back then listening to an interview with economist Richard D. Wolff today.
I started in catering and felt pretty uninspired fleecing office workers 40p for two toast slices, knowing all of that mark-up was purely to enrich Gary the boss.
I managed to get myself a job issuing blood products to hospitals. I appreciated how the profit-motive was absent.
Instead we had a whole walk-in fridge of evidence of human altruism in action
I loved this job hard. But management announced a centralisation plan, guided by McKinsey consultants. It would cut jobs and also make risky changes to the supply chain to hospitals. Workers right across England dived into a campaign through our unions to try and stop it.
Professor Wolff points out that although we (mostly…..) got rid of the system of kings, it still exists in the workplace
The employer and directors or shareholders make all the decisions about what the company will do, how, where and when. Then at the end of the day, that 2-3% say to everybody else – go home, have a beer and some pizza and come back tomorrow. The wealth is ours.
Back in the blood days, my over-riding feeling was of intense frustration. This tiny group of people could make such a dubious decision, while most of us questioned it. An early lesson in power.
But – it doesn’t have to be like this…..