Some days ago I met an old colleague of mine.
As often happens, having not shared anything else in life than working time from 8am to 4pm, we ended up immediately talking about work and the company from where I decided to get fired (as I will explain later).
He immediately started to list the growing problems and disadvantages within the departments where I once worked as one of the leaders: the company, once again, to face the economic crisis, has been deciding to cut the costs and, of course, these cuts hit directly the staff.
If the crisis of 2008-2009 had already shown a ruthless behaviour by the company's management team, the crisis of 2011 and still ongoing, has made me deciding to get out of this lousy game in which they wanted me accomplice.
The companies, which want to be out and profitable on the market, must follow some ruthless plans and actions, I understand that, and many of these will never be understood by the simple worker, but I also believe that the last world economic crises has been used as an excuse to re-establish "slavery" and to impose new inhumane working conditions.
Yes, because with the excuse of the loss or just the missing profits, with the urge to reduce the costs and the need to show the investors all the will to safe their capitals, the companies can now easily take more drastic decisions by getting rid of their own employees, or by forcing them to work in less and less acceptable conditions.
The company I was working for, just to give you some examples: has reduced the canteen (however raising the monthly cost of it); it cut the heating (forcing factory employees to wear jackets at work, and then raising irreparably the number of sick-leave); it canceled the Christmas party, the gifts, sweets and drinks to celebrate special occasions; it denied the payment of overtime, reduced the salary and cut coffee breaks; and so on.
And everything was approved and lawful because the economic crisis did not leave any other possibilities.
The thing that more made me really pissed off, was the subtle political terror that executives were able to establish, always reminding the employees (and only them) the need to struggle, working harder and gaining less, because "it's a bad time and out of here there is no work”.
Nice words to actually just tell them: ”either you do what we say or we let you go and you're screwed”.
I was at the head of a department, I was leading circa sixty people, many of whom came from poor countries, where they left the families seeking fortune here.
I had to give them explanations. I had to justify this behaviour, these cuts, this duty to work more and harder without getting anything in return. In front of them I had to represent the company, telling the same lies, the same hypocritical apologies.
I could not do it: I joined my employees barricade instead, I fought for a long time and then got fired, like all the other "bad apples", of course because of the economic crisis.
Most of the employees or colleagues who complained at the time, are still complaining and working there, fearing there is nothing else out there. Or better: outside the company there are other people, mostly unemployed, ready and willing to accept these and even worse working conditions.
And this is the strength of the companies right now …
I have no regrets, indeed: I’ve been unemployed for 8 months now, I cut my expenses and reviewed my economy, but I can be proud of myself.
And so, as the ex-colleague told me the new precarious and unsustainable situation, I felt relieved and a feeling of well-being grew in me: because I was able to come out from that mechanism; because I’ve been listening to my conscience (and, why not, even my pride) instead of just thinking about the money.
Yes, because if there was a world that told me I had to adapt myself to this situation and strategy, that in every workplace is the same shit, that I should had thought only about myself and be thankful for having a job, there was, and there still is, an inner voice too which told me not to deny my beliefs, ideals and principles, especially if this could affect other people's life.
If everybody could follow these rules, could it be the way out of this bloody crisis?
Well, it was for me…