OPINION

Long-term hostages

Working under contract for 15 to 20 years at the same post, meeting what are known as «permanent and ongoing needs» is not exactly job security. Nor is it the most honest approach on the part of an employer. Now you know: the term «contract worker» is merely a more subtle way of saying that a person is hostage to employers and middle-men. What you’re selling here is not your labor or your work capacity, but the fear that you may be left at loose ends for life. It’s a fear that drains your power and undermines your self-respect, pushing you to more individualistic forms of action. What they sell or, rather, what they promise (remember those pre-election posters of 2004 that promised to give permanent status to some 250,000 short-term contract workers) is the hope – or the ever-postponed expectation – of a permanent job. Instead of realizing the much-vaunted commitment of permanent tenure, the state audit council has shunned repeated court rulings to the contrary and ordered the non-payment of wages earned. The Middle Ages are not so distant after all. Contract workers do not all belong to the same category; they don’t all have the same boss or receive the same salary. After all, we are talking about thousands of people here. What they do have in common is their treatment, or rather exploitation, by the selection authorities. All these people, like servants of state interests or deacons of private ambitions, operate on the rules of a wild system of patronage. Of all the human traits and civic rights, contract workers have been left with the right to vote. But even their vote is compromised. It’s a quid-pro-quo vote – a vote used every four years to compensate those who repeatedly promise to set it free.