There is a recurring cry in recent days among the national business community that calls itself with words taken from Wall Street broker movies and Instagram freaks, such as “dreamer”, “entrepreneur”, “wolf”, “insatiable”, “shark” and other adjectives of crisis of the 40 traumada. He complains bitterly that he cannot find workers for his companies and that his feet are not licked when he needs labor for his businesses.
This week there have been two equally despicable examples. First Paloma Cervilla on public television, telling the case of her restaurant friend who cannot find workers because they prefer to live on subsidies, and then a degrading report against the working class of the hospitality sector in The Spanish. A habitual, contemptuous and classist discourse, which considers that employees have to thank employers for working, when they are the ones who depend on their workforce to be able to carry out their businesses. They are the ones who have thanks to their employees, not the other way around.
The reality is that employers are unable to find staff for their businesses because they offer miserable conditions that workers do not accept. We do not know how deep the social impact of the pandemic has been on the work culture, but what is certain is that we are seeing plenty of examples of sectors that have problems filling their positions offering the conditions prior to the pandemic. Work is no longer the supreme axis on which the life of the working class revolves, now there are other equally important priorities and employers are being surprised by the change in the cultural paradigm that is forcing them to offer better conditions if they want to cover their needs.
It is somewhat paradoxical to see how badly these “successful entrepreneurs” take freedom and the law of the market of supply and demand when it comes to accepting that there are those who do not accept their labor merchandise. We know that it is not possible that people do not want to work to live on the subsidies because there are no subsidies in Spain that allow them to live without working, but the recurring complaint tells us what would happen if there were a Universal Basic Income that gave workers bargaining power : that entrepreneurs couldn’t fool anyone with crappy contracts.
They have the class perception of a master with his slave. They believe that they belong to them, that they owe them a favor, they do not conceive that people reject their job offers because they are usually damaged merchandise. Nobody who needs a job is going to reject a permanent position with security and certainty and a salary of 1,400 euros net with fourteen pay with a workday of 40 hours a week. Nobody is nobody. The problem is that their offers always have some trap and they do not conceive that the lives of working people cannot adapt to their demands. One of the cooks who appeared in the report of The Spanish who dedicated himself to insulting the workers answered me in an email that had all the clichés that were assumed when reading to him:
“I am going to mention some of the candidates who did not make it: several wanted to get paid without being registered because if they did not lose subsidy -a Colombian, who charges € 450 in aid to nosequé, a single mother with 3 children who has an aid of € 130 per child, 2 people who were in ERTE – they still are today – and who could have left their job, left the erte, asked for the bill and started with us from scratch but preferred to look for a life in restaurants as extras without a contract and earn more than working legally and thus I could tell you of at least 10 or more cases. Other candidates were not suitable for lack of experience, others for having too much experience and having aspirations (not only economic, but hierarchical) greater than those offered, others because they only wanted to work mornings, others because from Monday to Friday (we only open the weekend), another because he had to take off yes or yes on Sunday because it was his girlfriend’s day off and that way he could continue to get bored tea…”.
In these brief lines, the businessman shows his total lack of empathy, in addition to classism, racism and the consideration that the job, which he offers, cannot be rejected for something as trivial as having a decent personal and affective life. Refusing a job for wanting to reconcile a family life and be able to see his girlfriend the only day she is off, what audacity. A bum because he wanted to see his girlfriend. The answer includes everything that is wrong in the corporate culture of this country and especially in the hospitality sector.
We can put ourselves in the place of the worker in an exercise of empathy and class perspective that we should exercise on a recurring basis. Let’s see. If he did not want to lose those 450 € of “help a nosequé” –the disregard for the aid that is not lacking– it will be because the conditions offered did not give him security. It may not pay just a month on your contract to lose your only living income. I don’t know anyone who prefers € 450 and can collect € 1500, because if they have been granted a grant, they are in a vulnerable situation. It can be an asylum seeker, someone who cannot afford to have a temporary job from which they are fired and lose the right to stay in the country because by losing their help and employment, they could no longer apply for residency. Because yes, people have needs that these glass entrepreneurs fail to understand.
It may be that he offered you a temporary contract that did not compensate you to register and thus be able to continue surviving as best you can. Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to live well. A single mother with 3 children who earns € 490 has not wanted to work with the salary that this purebred businessman claims to offer her. There is something wrong with the conditions. Nobody wants to live in poverty, and subsisting 4 people with € 490 is a misery. You might have thought that on the weekends you have no one to take care of your children and perhaps they are so young that it is impossible to leave them alone. But that would be putting yourself in the shoes of someone with a life so hard that you can’t even imagine and with whom you would cry huddled in a corner.
He also talked about those two people who were in ERTE and did not want to accept his job. I could have thought that perhaps they had a permanent contract or many better conditions and many years worked and they did not want to lose the few rights that still remain for a worker in Spain, because the conditions offered to them were lower than those they have with their current employer. He was also able to think about how it is possible that being in ERTE these workers need to look for a job to supplement their salary, something that does not square much with his version that they do not want to work. It may also be that if I paid them legally for everything they work, they might not have to make a living doing extras to complete a salary, because with 70% it would give them to live. There are many variables that were not even considered before deciding that it was a good idea to appear in a mass media biting its Michelin star to say that the workers are lazy people who have “no ambition or desire to work.” The businessman complained bitterly: “It is not a problem that salaries are low, but a cultural problem: instead of wanting to learn and take advantage of opportunities, people ask about the salary and if they will free the weekend.”
Yes, there is a cultural problem. But not the one the chef wants to denounce, but the one that has glass businessmen like him who end up crying and complaining bitterly when those they insult and do not keep their heads down respond to his shitty speech against the working class. Before dedicating ourselves to this writing, some of us had to endure many years of pirate entrepreneurs who did not want to register us, they forced us to endless hours in exchange for a shitty salary, we worked like mules so that their business could get ahead. Those of us who have space in public life and a minimum strength to give voice to those who are not listened to will not allow them to insult waitresses, cooks and cleaners without receiving a response. Offer better conditions, do not scream so much.