Welcome to serfdom

Posted on January 18, 2012 by

In the modern working world, employees are serfs. Loaded up with debt and therefore desperate for wages, they are the property of the employer, and they are expected to be on hand at all times and at a moment’s notice. We struggle with this in our own house, as my husband’s work and traveling schedule become increasingly erratic and spontaneous. His father held a similar position 30 years ago. He worked from 7:30am to 5:30pm every day, with scheduled breaks and a pleasant lunch. There was no long-distance travel and overtime was paid. This made family life a breeze, in comparison to our own crazy circumstances.

But the worst of it is currently hitting the service sector, with unpaid internships (slave labor) abounding and erratic scheduling reducing stable income and creating chaotic lives. From BI:

Along with poor benefits, slim opportunities, sexism and racism, one major complaint was the rise of “just-in-time” scheduling, also called “structured instability.”

Managers are scheduling fewer hours, while asking that employees remain on call for last minute changes. This practice maximizes staffing flexibility at the cost of worker stability and also keeps some workers from claiming full-time benefits.

Welcome to the plantation.