Ihsan

Monday, December 06, 2004

The "Productivity" scam...

Working people are always being told to be more "productive" -and this word almost always means working more for less pay, and fewer and fewer hours spent with your family, friends, and to just enjoy what is around you....

Mulla Nasruddin says it like it is: :-)

"Nasrudin got a job at a busy granary, loading sacks onto trucks to be taken to market. The foreman, who was keeping an eye on the workers, soon came over to speak to him."Why is it that you carry only one sack at a time while the other workers all carry two?" asked the foreman. Nasrudin looked around and said, "I suppose that they are too lazy to make two trips the way I do."
Mulla sahib, as usual, knows more than he lets on - as this article points out:

Individual worker output collectively rose, from 2000 to 2003, by a full 12 percent. Definitely a bonus for Wall Street – but what about Main Street?

As the meticulous research of the Economic Policy Institute shows(Snapshot, 09/08/04), real family income fell, over the same period, by 3 percent. Contrast this with the economic period of 1947 – 1973 when productivity and real family income moved in tandem, both doubling over those years.

What does this suggest?

Americans are working harder and longer for less family income.

As companies downsize or fail to replace workers who leave or retire, fewer staff are left to handle the workload. In fear of losing their own jobs, they respond by accepting new duties and new responsibilities and the added work time that accompanies them.

Sounds familiar?  Next time the "big boss" comes down and talks to 

you about "productivity" --- don't get mad.

Just start quietly talking to your co-workers... organize

8 comment(s):

  • Oh goody, the Mulla has appeared. can we do a Nasruddin story of the week, or of the day? My personal favorite is "duck soup" but I cannot think of a snappy political reference.

    By Blogger Anna in Portland (was Cairo), at 12/07/2004 02:02:00 AM  

  • what a timely post! we have recently undergone a 'productivity' audit and were found to be lacking when compared to some other hospital (they won't say who) so they are cutting staff. so, as we enter the busy season at the hospital we will be working with less staff. can anyone say 'unsafe conditions'!! but it has been a good opportunity to quietly talk to the coworkers.

    By Blogger trish, at 12/07/2004 03:46:00 PM  

  • Ask how is "productivity" defined - what is being "produced" - and then you'll get an idea of what is valued. Often in health care settings the definition is "billable hours" i.e. that which "produces" revenue. Rarely does "productivity" take into consideration the actual quality of care provided.

    As in the story of Mullah Nasruddin - the big corporations are more interested in doubling the number of sacks you carry on your back. With little or no consideration to what this might do to your back - or to patient/client care.


    By Blogger altaf, at 12/08/2004 01:35:00 AM  

  • that's the problem. pharmacists don't have billable services so we are expendable. getting meds to patients, identifying potential or current drug interactions, inappropriate prescribing......they don't make money and are therefore unimportant. but the second there is a problem with a medication guess who gets the blame!

    By Blogger trish, at 12/08/2004 09:03:00 AM  

  • Altaf,

    The employer-employee is a give and take relationship where the value of labor is returned in $$$. Given that the primary goal of the employer is to make money ( vs improved quality of life of employees) and labor is a commodity of variable value, would you fault the employer for seeking cheaper labor?

    It would be hasty to blame big corporations for the current economic conditions. One could arguably say that the off-shore competition is killing the businesses at home. Or could this be called the leveling of the playing field in the Global market.

    I am not doubting that some corporations are unfair when dealing with their employees. On the other hand the productivity is first thing that suffers when the employement is secure. Look at the Government employees and the unionized construction worker making $ 40/hr whose job is to wave the amber flag on hi-ways. Isn't that unfair too?


    By Blogger Jafar, at 12/08/2004 01:30:00 PM  

  • I dont' see why people who wave flags on teh highway to avoid accidents should be paid a low wage or why $40 an hour is "unfair" - surely they are doing something important? Recently even very conservative business schools have started giving much more attention to business ethics and the issue of worker benefits, recognizing that even from a strictly capitalist viewpoint, if corporations in the US outsource to developing countries in order to avoid paying their US workers a living wage, they will end up losing consumers.
    As for the progressive movement, I did understand that most strains of it recognize that there are higher moral values to live by than the profit motive.


    By Blogger Anna in Portland (was Cairo), at 12/08/2004 10:08:00 PM  

  • Yes, it is true that for a business/corporation - the primary "job" is to make money (i.e. a profit). But if this is the only motivation that counts in an entire segment of a society (of which business is a significant portion) - then there might not be any concern for such thing as the environment - and other social concerns.

    In the U.S. we've lived through such an age (and appear to be returning to it under Bush and Co.) - when child labor, for example, was a norm. Elsewhere people continue to struggle for some these basic rights.

    So, business/corporations do have a responsibity - towards their community - workers being the most immediate community.


    By Blogger altaf, at 12/08/2004 10:28:00 PM  

  • I love Nasruddin...I use it for reading exercises in my English classes. The slave wages thing is alive and well here where I work for the...ahem...U.S. government. I'm paid good wages for the country in which I live, yay, but, I am considered below the poverty line for a family of two in the U.S. I'm lucky that the director of the English center is in charge of paying wages...for now...or else the situation would be even worse. He helps us feel like we aren't slaves, as much as possible. I love how the government is so picky about paying low wages, unless it comes to them. :D

    By Blogger Kelly, at 12/08/2004 11:53:00 PM  

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