Once upon a time
Let me take you back to the good ol' days. I'm talking about a particular time in London, but much would be familiar to Jakartans. In those days computers with less storage than your MP3 player would occupy a city block, books were books and not .pdf files, telephones were not mobile fashion accessories and City Hall generally understood its responsibilities towards its citizens.
There weren't online auctions in those days, nor spam emails taunting you about your lack of virility or mental acumen. If you wanted to buy something, you went to your local shops or department store and hunted for bargains. You were generally welcome; indeed, the carefully handwritten sign Browsers Welcome
were ubiquitous. Advertising was generally restricted to newspapers and magazines, although street hoardings were increasingly common, but nowhere near as ugly and offensiveness in their domination as is becoming the norm here in Jakarta. (Do we really need advertisements for instant noodles five storeys high?)
One day, in a moment of underemployment, I responded to a newspaper ad and went into Central London to check out a potential earner. There were lots of us in a hall and we were addressed by a smartly dressed man, probably in his early thirties. The line of work he was touting was door-to-door selling and the product he had in mind was a set of encyclopaedias to be bought on a a monthly subscriptions plan. There were maybe as many as fifty in a set, nicely faux-leather bound, with lots of inessential information to be absorbed. Probably all of it would now fit onto a couple of CDs or a flash drive. Anyway, the clinching sales point for any muggins who was getting sucked into the sales spiel was that the customer would get a FREE bookcase.
Wow, I thought, but then this dapper dude came out with his sales spiel to we potential recruits.
"We want ambitious people to join us. And by ambitious, I mean people who want to make lots and lots of MONEY."
We were then interviewed in twos and threes, and when it was my turn, I asked him a question.
"Has it ever crossed your mind that what you are doing is grossly immoral?" I asked. "You're asking us to force folk on low incomes to get into debt through buying inessential goods."
"This is the first time I've ever had to throw someone out of my office," he spluttered.
"And I hope it won't be the last," I replied.
I was reminded about this by a post on Melly's blog
In it she recounts the recruitment of a new member for her accounting staff. Although she bemoans the lack of loyalty demonstrated by the new appointee, she also raises an issue which may account for this when she writes:From 10 persons, out of 9 persons did not even write down their expected salary on the column I prepared for them. So, I asked them on the interview and they all seem to be grateful enough to be able to work in new company, new environment, new challenge, and all kinds of others reasons. It makes me wonder, what is going on in here? Anyone can give me some clues?
Sure, Melly. There are many, many of us who have an intense dislike for a Dutch (i.e. blind) auction. How many potential interviewees were put off because they feared that their stated expected salary would be too high or too low? It is akin to prostitution in that it debases oneself.
This system could well account for the prevalence of corruption in this country because it is the distinct lack of transparency which leads to the prevalent dog-eat-dog syndrome and a 'f*ck you' attitude between management and staff.Act No.13, 2006 (.pdf download)
governs employment conditions in this country and Article 92 (1)
states: Entrepreneurs shall formulate the structure and scales of wages by taking into account the functional and structural positions and ranks, the occupation, years of work, education and competence of the worker.
This seems eminently fair and sensible to me. Why can't employers be open with employees? If loyalty, experience and abilities were recognised through increments, entitlements and bonuses, there need not be any bitterness. The involvement of employees in any enterprise is paramount and without their commitment, demonstrated through their contributions according to aptitude, any organisation will become stagnant.
This issue is at the heart of my industrial relations dispute
, one which has directly lead to my only experience anywhere of a group of workers intimidated into not communicating openly with each other.
They have been prostituted.