With just one week left to vote for the most evil employer of 2012, we’d like to shed some light on an overlooked “black corporation” – city governments. Sure, government workers often get a bad rap as being slow and overpaid with ridiculous job security. But in the words of Bob Dylan “the times they are a-changing.”
In Osaka, government workers will be forbidden to have any tattoos and a drinking ban is in talks for all the city workers of Fukuoka. But to really see the slippery slope that these labor reforms can lead to, we should turn our attention to the People’s Republic of China.
It would seem that the reforms made in China were originally a sincere attempt at curbing corruption in the government as one thirty-five year-old resident of Wuhan city recalls.
“The police and officials around here used to be arrogant, collecting fines and fees from the people and putting it directly into their own pockets. But a few years back a ‘5 Complaints and You’re Fired’ ordinance was introduced. Since then things got a whole lot better. In fact, some public workers suck up to people so much, it’s a little sickening.”
However, things began to get a little out of hand according to a housewife in Beijing.
“As a municipal employee, even if you are given a present worth a few yen from someone you must report it immediately – even if it’s a single piece of hard candy. Actually I heard about a city worker who got suspended for not reporting a can of juice they received.”
Okay, as strict as these rules are they still seem to be in the effort of erasing corruption in the local governments. However, the noose seemed to keep tightening around the necks of municipal staff. One independent businessperson recalls an acquaintance who works for the city of Chongqing.
“With more complaints from people over minor mistakes more severe discipline was thrown on him. He quit drinking and smoking completely. He even quit driving for fear of an accident. He’s afraid to step out of his house on weekends and has become a virtual shut-in.”
After finding it easy to mess with their employee’s human rights it was a small leap to begin screwing around with their pay and benefits too. Jiangxi has wiped out all of their worker’s health benefits in an effort to save cash and Guangzhou is considering following suit.
Taking things one step further, the cash-strapped city of Jining, unable to cut their worker’s benefits any more, have decided to fill their coffers by forcing their staff to buy government bonds. These employees would consider themselves lucky to break even on their “investments.”
It all seems a far cry from the Communist Party of China’s original ambition, and for the rest of us it serves as a reminder to maintain the rights of workers everywhere. So do your part. Head down to your local DMV and give the staff a big hug… or at least let them have a tattoo or a drink if they want one.