Some people shouldn’t be allowed to be bosses

February 24, 2006

I couldn’t believe my ears hearing about this story on the radio yesterday.  Basically slavery is alive and well, in The Lucky Country.  I guess they mean lucky for the white and wealthy…

Unfortunately I hear less extreme stories of this nature far too often – bosses who seem to think that they have actually bought their workers, and as such can treat them like crap, even outside of work hours. 

This article reminded me of an organisation I know of that has a history of acting in a similar controlling way.  The staff require cars for their work and are allowed to take them home and indulge in reasonable personal use of said vehicles.  Seeing as how there’s basically no way for companies in this country to get around paying Fringe Benefit Tax on company cars (except for locking them all up in a gated yard each night and weekend), this is quite common here.

However this particular company (let’s call it Quasimodo) decided that they weren’t happy with getting their workers to fill out logbooks and provide evidence of receipts for fuel put in for personal driving, they actually put GPS chips in the cars.  And then every morning some idiot Quasimodo manager wastes a whole lot of time reviewing the routes that all these cars have taken since the previous work day ended. 

Why do the workers even know about this?  Because one of them got hauled into Quasimodo’s head office and was severely reprimanded for not getting home until 10pm when they had work the next day.  That’s right – in that company the boss not only owns you from 9-5, they also have proprietary rights over you 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. 

While this seems tame compared to the poor labourers who suffer regular, severe, beatings in the article I linked to above, it’s on the same continuum – it reminds me of those studies done a few decades ago, before things like Ethics Committees at universities, where one group of students were put in charge of another and those in control very quickly started to abuse their authority. 

Mr Purauto acted as if he were a god – and yet in developing countries this kind of “management” practice is probably reasonably common.  When I heard on the radio that the abused worker was paid 20c an hour I immediately thought of sweat shops and the forced child and prisoner labour many countries use. 

How can we do this stuff to each other?  How can we look at another person and not see a human being but someone so inferior that we can use and abuse them as we wish? 

Sometimes I just despair that we humans will ever evolve enough to avoid destroying each other and ultimately ourselves.

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