Normally, I would not involve myself with such petty disputes, but the fact of the matter is, boredom has set in around here. I mean, in my little sphere of human contact, it has generally being pretty quite. So, my only source of written inspiration has being from work, my employment, something that I really try and dissociate myself from. Now don’t get me wrong, work is work and some people take it home with them, others marry it then there’s people like me who tolerate it and live hour by hour knowing that it will end and my true career will one day start.
Oh, this post is going to be fairly long, so be fore-warned, Okay. I divided it into 2 parts with part 2 posted on August 29th, 2004.
Before I get into the nut-bolts of the play, let me first set the stage and give you the plot, so I don’t bore you with the endless accounts of legal wishful thinkings and substantive law with lots of dribble. I’m going to throw some humour into the mix too, so I do hope you get the jokes, puns and above all the crux of what it is I’m writing about here.
As I have alluded to, my relationship between my current employer is not the ideal circumstances that one would want in any event. I show up for my job, do the required work, do it to the best of my abilities, then leave. For me, it is that simple. However, for my employer, it is not. For them, it is the difference of corporate ideology and employer governance over its workers that splits hairs and projects the new age of “The Happy Employer.” Unlike political law, corporate ideology allows the employer to become flexible and manipulative all in the name of capital. Hey, If I were in their boots, I probably would want the same set of rules and more, if I could get away with it. So, as an employee, I see a totaly different set of rules than that of my employer. We both have different goals, reasons why we are there and what expectations we desire to obtain.
One of the biggest problems between me and them is my enforcement of authority upon my employer–using law as a agent of law and its authority. One of the advantages of a Law Major is to recognized the difference between policy and law. For the employer, the need to have absolute authority on the work site is paramount. If this authority is lost, then, in essences, how could you get your employees to perform their duties in light of any problems or changes that would not interfere with the quest for capital? For most employers in Canada, it has being my experience that hard-line tactics are used in non-union sites and manipulative ones for unionized sites. For example, in a labourer’s position that I once held, the congregation of employees, either during work hours or in between, such as lunch breaks, was prohibited. This was probably in light of a attempted union drive from several year before. However, the psychological effects on the employees was tremendous. This in turn created effects that went beyond what the employer was tying to achieve, that is, it was not uncommon for several employees to leave their position simultaneously without warning, something that employers are vigorously tyring to legislate in the government in the form of penalties. To smiply “quit” your job is the bigest, loudest message you could ever send to your employer at any time. Communication is a virtue that either is a boon for employers or a nightmare, but to have several of them quit, this is another issue altogether!
The current situation is simply base on a continuation of authority and will by both sides. We have a conservative style government here in British Columbia, one that even calls itself liberal, that openly displays it’s laissez-faire style relationship towards labour issues. For employers, it is merely a natural step to take advantage of this genre and begin implementing stringent strategies toward increasing production and monopolization. However, one of the catches in this arrangement between the corporation and government is law.
In Canada, a worker’s insurance programs were setup so that any employee who was injured on the job would be protected. In British Columbia, we call this arm of the government the Workers Compensation Board [WCB]. The WCB was a off-shoot from the days of when we existed in an social democratic state, and many such social programs were implemented to better protect people from such harms. The idea was straight froward, if the employee was injured while working, he or she was compensated by the WCB and therefor could not sue their respective employer for any wrong doing of unsafe working conditions. This insurance was a benefit to both worker and business alike. However, it was very expensive. A requirement for employers, as they must pay the bill for WCB if they choose to hire employees. The generous compensation payouts of the 1970s and 80s left the WCB in a state of unprecedented debt. Still today, I know of people who have not worked since the 80s and are still receiving their wage, on a monthly bases for their injuries. Something that will never happen again as the belt-tightening continues in government.
Today, we see WCB as more conservative in practise and further distancing itself from the employer-employee relationship. WCB has now change it’s mission statement as not mere protection for the employer but getting the employee back to work as soon as possible to benefit the labour market. With the changes in government in the last decade again, a spill off from this laissez-faire style of government, smaller government and greater flexibility for business is the new direction that seems to only benifit one side of the group, the employer. The bulk of these changes has left a greater responsibility on the backs of the employer as they now pay the premiums based on usage of this insurance. For example, if a employer continues to have a high percentage of injuries, then it’s premiums climb, in the case of an employer with 20 or more workers, anything above 4 percent of it’s workers injured will result in a doubling of the base premium rate.
The situation that I faced with the employer was a result of this increase in WCB premiums from injured employees who made doctor’s visits. For the Medicare system, special fees are given to those people who arrive to a doctor’s office for work related injuries. Thus, these fees are paid from the WCB (not the public pures) and attribute to the financial burden of the WCB social program. So, it is logical, as with any other private insurance program, the heavy users must pay a larger fee in their premiums with the increased output of payments going to its workers. Now remember, the doctor may give the employees a clean bill of health, however, it is the actual visit that is being billed to WCB thus causing the increases we are seeing.
Now, it is not me who is or had being injured. A matter of fact, I have never (knock on wood) ever initiated a claim before in my life. So, the argument of me being dealt with unfairly does not exist here. My argument stems from a completely different set of principles that are taking place as a result of this downplay by the employer.
Continued in PART 2. Psychological hardening in the workplace.