Apparently, workers at their store are searched on leaving the workplace to make sure they haven’t pocketed product.
The action by two former employees is, reportedly, not because this is demeaning and assumes employees are thieves by default. Oh no. It’s because the workers apparently haven’t been paid while waiting to prove their innocence.
Doubtless truth will out, but on the face of the media reports – doesn’t this reverse the principle of innocent-until-proven-guilty that the western justice system rests on? As a friend of mine pointed out, if an employee is asked to submit to search – meaning their integrity is being questioned – surely the accused can reasonably request the police are called to properly investigate what is, by any measure, a very serious allegation?
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic there’s a report in the UK over ‘zero hour’ employment – a normal exclusive arrangement (no secondary job), except the employer picks and chooses the hours the employee works and is paid for. According to the Guardian, Buckingham Palace uses the system, apparently, among others.
To me, that one harks back 200+ years to the early industrial revolution when workers lined up outside factories in the hope of being selected for a day’s work.
I suppose someone will invent work-houses next, places to humiliate and starve those whose misfortune is not of their making, but who can be conveniently blamed for it anyway. ‘More, Mr Twist? You want MORE?’
History never repeats in the specific; cultures change over time, ideals and values move with it. Still, in the long game of history, it is possible to see patterns – to see swings, usually between extremes, punctuated by periods of reason. But underlying human nature doesn’t change, and if we look back we can see the same patterns of power, of injustice, of have and have not emerging time and again. A common human pattern, irrespective of how they are intellectualised and couched in the moment.
Which makes me wonder. In this age of buzz-words such as ‘solution’, will there be a moment when some wonk around the world, without the slightest trace of irony – and in profound ignorance of what they are actually saying – comes up with a ‘final’ solution to some problem or other.
I think I’d laugh. And then…then I think I’d get very scared.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013