Tuesday, August 07, 2007

We need more strikes!

Yes, I'm definitely meaning it. We need more people going on strike in Germany.

Currently the engine drivers in Germany are preparing for a strike because they think - rightfully, if you want my opinion on it - they don't get enough money for their work. This will be the first real strike for quite a while. The unions have been playing nice for far too long.

Now, I personally don't belong to a union and neither am I a member of a political party. First of all, I don't know the right union for call-centre agents. Second, I don't agree with any of the political parties around enough to become a member. So either I'm going to open my "German Gamer Party" one day or I'm staying out of politics on the whole. It would be better for the other politicians if I did the latter.

Until quite recently I also thought that the unions had become quite useless. For years they haven't done anything but saying "Yes" to whatever the heads of companies wanted to do. "Downsizing" workforce? Yes, we're all for it. Cutting the rights of the employees? Of course, sirs, shall we help you with the wording? And so on. But at least one union has woken up - maybe others will follow.

That would be good, because after working in a call-centre for quite some time, I really see clear about the difficult relationship between the employer and the employee: The employee needs work so he/she can make money to live from. The employer on the other hand needs workforce so he/she can make products or provide services to make money with. Both sides sustain each other, providing something the other one needs.

During the last years one could have gotten the impression that it doesn't work like this at all. It seemed to boil down to something like this: The employee needs work so he/she doesn't have to stay at home and the employer is nice enough to provide it. Giving the employee money was just a nice bonus from the employer, not part of the whole deal of working.

I still hold on to the stupid thought that a person working 40 hours a week (8 hours a day) should be able to live from the money he/she gets for it. Rather naïve, don't you think? I mean, it worked out in the past, but why should it still be true today? To pay your bills, you should have to work in two or even three different jobs - and four hours of sleep a night still are too much, obviously. You should learn to get on with one hour - and only because biologically speaking humans need sleep to stay sane.

And no, I don't expect to get tons of cash for a little bit of easy work. I only want a job I can do and getting paid enough to pay my bills and put a bit to the side so I can afford something special sometimes (like a holiday trip, had the last when I was 15 or so, more than half my life ago).

We made life a bit too easy for the employers for quite a long time, it's time to let them realize again (as the unions did in the past) that they are just one part of the deal. They do have a partner at work and this partner isn't a multi-national consortium of companies. It's the people who work for one company.

So yes, we need more strikes! Now!

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