Thursday, December 28, 2006

Slaves to the written word!

If you received a book for Christmas, you may unwittingly have contributed to the enslavement of book store employees across the nation.

The Tyee has a fascinating little article about the unionization drive at a Chapters location in Vancouver recently, it weaves a tale of the new economy of low wage jobs, low hour totals and an endless cycle of trying to make ends meet all while probably trying to keep off the radar of the bosses.

One interesting point made in the article is that of the subsidization of the literature industry in Canada, through Canada Council grants and such. Which while beneficial to the actual writers and publishers, don't seem to trickle down to the little people that stock the shelves, or work the tills of the bookstores of the nation. In fact one particular offering suggests that the low wages of the retail sector help to subsidize the industry.

The driving point to the article though is the economic change that has crossed the nation as far as working hours and benefits go. Far too many employees find themselves stuck in a rut of part time jobs, trying to cobble together enough hours to make a half decent living. Many would give up a dollar or two in salary or at least not ask for an increase, if only the employers would move to a more permanent timetable for hours of work.

A situation that probably isn't in the cards any time soon, the retail trade especially has found that by limiting employees hours to a certain levels cuts costs and bumps their bottom line. Ironically, it could mean that their own employees wouldn't have enough money at the end of the day to purchase the goods they sell during the day.

It's a trend that should it continue eventually will bring the economy to a standstill. It's hard to imagine anyone balancing two part time jobs at minimum or just above minimum wage investing in a new home, a new car or other consumer goods to keep an economy chugging along.

Somewhere in your local book store we're sure is a book that outlines the road we travel on where it's going to go. Ask one of the slaves if they know where it might be.

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