Apr 30, 2009

Happy Thursday

From a joke I learned that while Friday is known also by the happy acronym of TGIF (Thanks God it's Friday), Thursday is known by the acronym SHIT (Sorry Honey, it's Thursday). Well, today I guess we can say TIGT: Thanks God it's Thursday. Yes, today is a kind of Thursday that's more like a Friday, because tomorrow is a holiday! Yeah! No work for tomorrow! Wake up at anytime, smack away the clock or cellphone that wakes you up everyday to tell you the same old bad news: another day of labour has come, wake up and join the ants. Today is the International Day of Labor, so we rest and do whatever we feel like doing.

However, not everybody has today a happy Thursday, for some people gara go work tomorrow. Year after year more and more people in Costa Rica have to work through holidays. People with jobs that pay little, such as cleaning and construction, but also others like stores and restaurants mainly in big commercial centers, or Malls. However now also people working for foreign companies, particularly in the call centers. I have friends who work in these and it amazes me how these enterprises are allowed to function under this method, forcing their employees to work through the holidays all year long. What's Government doing? Because it's one thing if I volunteer to work throught a holiday in exchange of an extra payment, but it's entirely different if I'm made, if in order to enjoy a nation, and Hyne forbid, an INTERNATIONAL holiday I'm made spend vacation days, and even then have them tied to the chance of being rejected because "a lot of people is asking that day out".

I'm a public employe, like everybody knows by now, and this things are simply unheard in my environment. Nobody questions holidays here. Then again, it's also in our Laws, in the Labor Code, chapter III, article §148, the list of holidays that are obligatory and must be paid by the employer, that must be given to the employees. So what's going on here? Foreign Direct Investment, that's what's going on here. They, namely the current Administration, and other Administrations prior to it, that follow the Liberal and Neoliberal way of "fucking it up", for such brain fart can't be considered "way of thinking" or much less philosophy, allow enterprises to ste up here, have no union and take from the workers as much as they want. Young kids, barely out of their teenage years, working for dollars, some handsome fee... for someone with no preparation whatsoever, and have them locked in a somewhat relaxed environment, socially, where they can dress up their cubbies like one arranges a bedroom, with pictures, posters, toys, and have them work for more hours than they should, for more days than they should. Most of them resign quickly. Most of them hardly last a year, and jump from call center to call center, from this tech support enterprise to that, from this merchandising enterprise to that, here and there like crazy bees, making a patched up career as call center agents,or "account executives", however do you wish to call them, but what kind of career is that?

A generation is growing up without knowing what's like to work for years in the same company, getting to know it, love it, become part of it, feel proud about it. I hear kids ten years my juniors talking about the plans they have with the money they'll receive when they resign from their current workplaces. What happened with the value of stability?

Today everything is fleeting. You buy a new house and a new car if you get a new job with a higher income, but you don't think ahead about what you'll do to pay it. No. While your income is enough, you pay it. When you resign or get laid off, the bank takes the house and the car, or maybe you'll be able to sell it, pay the bank and get something with the remaining money. This workers spend differently than their senior generations. While others bought land, estate, these kids buy toys and electronics. Things they can get quicker, that won't force them to remain in a given enterprise for too long. They won't anyway.

People live short term lives making no plans, maybe just dreaming al kinds of farfetched dreams that feed their desperation, but possess no real base to be achieved. A kid that does nothing but plays videogames all day, works every once in a while for a few months and quits, eats up all his or her money in matter of days and lives a messy, unorganized life can't possibly expect to become "rich and famous". And yet many of them do. Many wait for fame and fortune come knockng on their door. Really, I have more possibilities of developping telekinesis that they have of achieving such unreal dreams.

You know, it never cease to amaze me how people who actually seek to avoid working hard to achieve something, are capable to getting themselves into jobs that squeeze them in exchange of nothing. Wouldn't be better to put all that energy in something that can get them ahead?

And yet, on the same page, there's a lot of people who has been left behind, cut from the chances others had and are stuck in these jobs, trying to get ahead. These are those who stay the most, seek to remain employed as much as they can, because they need the income. You can recongize these people from the others, separate them from the addicts to the instant gratification, because they have to work far harder than many of us. They do these "marxist nightmare" jobs and next to the them they study. Either they manage to attend class, or they are enrolled in online classes, maybe thought distance learning, where they enroll to different classes, pick up their books and do their homework for a given date and then go to the university only to do their tests. I've been there, so I know it's no piece of cake. And yet there are many of these kids, who seek for a chance to make their dreams a reality and follow a career this way while breaking their backs in all kinds of neo-imperialist "coal mines".

All other jobs are being erased as enterprises that work with the old methodology, respecting the law and keeping up with it are forced to close because they have become "inefficient" and "too expensive". Who will have the strenght to work at this pace at the age of 50 or 60? Who will be hired at that age? How will anyone live at that age? Many of these kids, of this workers are not insured, and even if the 9.9% of their wage is retained by their employers alleging "Insurance fee", employers are keeping that money for themselves and not insuring their young workers. "What for? The kid won't be here more than 9 months, so he or she will never notice it". Only, each time the kid remains only 9 months to 1 year at the enterprises, and so, when he or she turns... 65 the Insurer will tell him or her, "Sorry Homie, no money!".

I don't think it's fair that only a layer of our society can have a good life secured. Holidays are for the whole country, not only for those few "blessed ones" who got the right education and the right job and the right connections. Why only a part of us can enjoy the Social Guaranties secured some 13 years ago? Why this benefit, this right we have shed blood for is not for everyone? If we work for a wage, if we all have to pay taxes, and we do, why only a part is subjected and protected by the Law?

So, a day before the International Labor Day, I'd like to leave this thought for reflection about what have been fought, the great revolutions on this matter we had in the XX.th century and what are we doing of it in this new XXI.st century.

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