Wednesday, 16 December 2015

In Sickness and In Health

This week’s Time Magazine focuses all about its Person of the Year choices. At 6th place (if I remember correctly) stands Travis Kalanick, Uber’s founder and CEO.
I don’t know much about Kalanick as a person, but I do know that I sure have a quarrel with his professional enterprise. Specifically, I have a quarrel with a company that enjoys the benefit of employing north of 100,000 people yet wouldn’t recognise them as employees, with everything that goes with that, such as annual leave and sick allowances. [In another post I might discuss the quarrel I have with the Uber app ravaging its users’ privacy.]
Those worker rights things, like the right to go on paid leave or the security of knowing that one is cared for even when one is sick (often due to work related activities) are important things. They are rights our not so distant ancestors paid for with blood, their blood, and now we are asked to forget all about them so that this young entrepreneur can make an extra buck as he bends the legacy industries to his will. You know, the industries that do offer their workers social rights, if only because they follow the law.
The fact Uber is waging its war against a monopoly industry that has been screwing us (and its drivers) for around a century should not matter much. Indeed, it is a tragedy to see Uber getting away with murder on account of its main rival being an industry everyone likes to hate. But again, this should not matter; workers’ rights are a much more important matter than Uber. It is something that is likely to affect you, and it is something that will almost certainly affect your children. Do not let them grow into a world depriving them of stuff that we have been taking for granted.

Uber taxi ad

As for yours truly, I very much doubt there is a future career for me with Uber. What I do know, however, is that I will almost certainly have a future career in short term contract employment. It’s not Uber, but it is still employment that deprives the employee from basic social rights such as annual leave or sick pay.
I know many people who are perfectly happy with their contracting career. Me, I cannot say I’m looking forward to this market driven necessity. Being a person, I do need to take leave. Being a human being, I do get sick from time to time. And when I do get sick, I do not wish to have to worry about money in addition to having to worry about getting healthier.
This whole Uber thinking, the thinking that manifests itself with the contracting employment, is something that can only work for the young and healthy that don’t have any children. In the rest of the cases, the vast majority of cases, such employment conditions screw lives up.
Let us not get there. Me, I’d rather put Travis Kalanick endeavours in the trash compactor of society rather than glorify it, Time style.


Image by Alper Çuğun, Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0) licence 

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