Thursday, 19 March 2009

More of the bonuses debacle

Hey Maisaloon,

The bonuses debacle has certainly been a focus of media attention for a while and has attracted a lot of criticism. Now, I have full sympathy for anyone who’s lost their job but you do still feel a small twinge of resentment when you’ve had dozens of the following types of conversations with bankers and city workers:

You: oh no, I’m so sorry to hear you’ve lost your job – how are you doing?

Joe highflyingbankerdude: Yeah I know it’s terrible. I don’t know what I’m going to do – everything seems to have just fallen apart..... I’m.... Just at a loss for words I guess... (trails off)

You (with genuine sympathy): Well please do let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. Do you have any plans for the immediate future?

Joe highflyingbankerdude (still in the same dazed tone): Well, I’ve been thinking I’ll travel around the world for six months on my redundancy package and then I guess just apply for a Master’s and take it from there.


So yeah, not much sympathy on the bonus front from me. As far as I’m concerned, the real victims of this recession aren’t the bankers or city workers. It’s not the educated young who are more than capable of handling a couple years of hard work, low wage temp jobs and uncertainty when our lives and careers still span ahead of us.

It is the people from the poorer backgrounds who will continue to get the short end of the stick. It is the people in the blue collar jobs for whom life is already a struggle going from paycheck to paycheck.

But most of all, it’s the over-sixties my heart bleeds for the most. The people who have worked diligently their whole lives, putting aside a little bit of money each month, believing in a system that told them if they did what was asked of them they would one day be rewarded. These same people who are tired, who have put children through school and have faced the hardships of life head on and are now ready for a rest.

These same people who suddenly woke up one morning to find their pensions were worth nothing. The value of their lives had fallen to zero overnight – the blood, sweat and tears they had shed over a lifetime meant nothing and they now have to start over from scratch because nobody has demanded that their rights be recognized. There are no calls in the media for these people to be compensated or supported.

In fact, the European Courts of Justice recently ruled that companies can force their employees to retire at 65 so those who had planned to keep working have now had another door slammed shut in their face. Older workers and women have been disproportionately affected by this recession and this move is a blow to anti discrimination laws and to all those who were hoping their fall would eventually be broken by state support. The same state they have been paying taxes to all this time.

I don’t think it’s about where in the world this is happening – I think it’s about the system. It’s no coincidence that the Scandinavian states that practice social democracy have been hit much less hard by this. I think we need to rethink the culture of business that we operate in and take a good, hard look at the characteristics it brings out in ourselves.

1 comment:

  1. very true - and no sympathies for the "highflyingbankerdudes" ..