A great deal between employers and unions is being trumpeted around about now in Poland. In return for an end to “temporary” work contracts with durations of up to twenty years, the unions have agreed to increased elasticity of working hours. Many people will be familiar with the abuse of temporary work contracts; the three month probation period followed by the one year contract followed by the sack followed by – six months later, to get around the law – another one-year contract and so on until you drop down dead without a pension. Presumably, many people will soon become familiar with the abuse of “elastic” working hours.
Permit me to indulge in my radicalism here – but why did the unions agree to give anything in return for an end to this abuse? They are effectively buying their way out of exploitation. When an East European prostitute finally earns enough money to buy her passport back from the gangster who confiscated it after telling her she would be working in a German restaurant this is hardly to be greeted as a great victory for workers’ rights.