enjoy their jobs"
2001, the UK government announced plans for
a "work first" culture. Ministers
spoke of how work "holds communities together"
and "gives life meaning". Meanwhile,
back in the real world...
In 2002, the Work Foundation
reported that "job satisfaction has plummeted",
and that so-called "high performance"
management techniques made workers deeply unhappy
and failed to raise output.
In January 2004, a marketing director
at Prudential was reported as saying:
"Our research shows that an alarming
number of people appear to be unhappy in their
employment and unfulfilled by their work".
A British Social Attitudes survey
revealed that 6 in 10 British workers are unhappy
in their jobs, with a majority reporting feelings
of insecurity, stress, pointlessness, exhaustion
and inadequate income.
A Samaritans survey found that
jobs are the single biggest cause of stress
and that the link between work and suicide
is likely to be underestimated. In Japan, around
5% of all suicides are "company related"
and suicide is an official, compensated work-related
In a pathetic attempt to raise worker
morale, employers are giving high-sounding titles
to mundane jobs. The recruitment company, Reed,
noticed these examples:
Head of Verbal Communications
Senior Corporate Events
given in full at bottom of page)
have more leisure now"
Working hours have risen in the last
20 years, on average, for UK full-time workers
(as shown by the UK Labour Force Survey).
This reverses a 150-year trend of declining
UK governments have known for decades
that long hours are economically counterproductive.
A 1916 Home Office report, Industrial Fatigue,
noted that output "is lowered by the
working of overtime. The diminution is often
so great that the total daily output is less
when overtime is worked than when it is suspended.
Thus overtime defeats its own object."
The UK government has admitted a "sharp
increase" in excessive working hours. DTI
research found that 1 in 6 employees now work
more than 60 hours a week.
Full-time employees in the UK work the longest
hours in Europe. The average for full-timers
in the UK is 43.5 hours per week. In France
it's 38.2 and in Germany 39.9, yet both are
more productive than the UK.
According to an ICM poll, 1 in 5 UK
workers never take a lunch-break. And 57% of
workers take a break of less than 30 minutes
(30 minutes is the legal minimum).
A May 2003 British Medical Association
survey found that 77% of consultants work more
than 50 hours a week for the NHS, and 46% more
than 60 hours.
Each year employees are giving £23
billion in free labour to their bosses, according
to the TUC. The union organisation has designated
February 27th as "Work Your Proper Hours
Day", after calculating that this is
the day when the average worker who does unpaid
overtime stops working for free.
work never harmed anyone"
People with stressful jobs are twice
as likely to die from heart disease, according
to a 2002 study in the British Medical Journal.
People who work over 48 hours per week
have double the risk of heart disease, according
to a 1996 UK government report.
Long-term job strain is worse for your
heart than gaining 40lbs in weight or aging
30 years, according to a 2003 US study.
Work kills more than war. Approximately
two million workers die annually due to occupational
injuries and illnesses, according to a United
Nations report. This is more than double
the figure for deaths from warfare (650,000
deaths per year). Work kills more people than
alcohol and drugs together.
82% of workers at the Department
for Work and Pensions have suffered ill
health as a result of pressure of work, according
to a 2003 survey.
The Health and Safety Executive
reports that the number of people suffering
from work-related stress has more than doubled
BBC News quotes the International
Stress Management Association as saying:
"Each year we conduct research into stress
and each year the figure just keeps on getting
Rising stress at work is causing increasing
numbers of young professionals to grind their
teeth while they sleep, according to the British
Dental Health Foundation.
The number of people in work is at "record
levels" according to the UK government.
Meanwhile, official UK figures show 22% of people
living in poverty, compared to 13% in 1979.
47% of employees have wages
that, on their own, are insufficient to avoid
42% of employees rely on
means other than their own wages to avoid poverty.
In the 1970s and 1980s, around 4% of low-paid
employees lived in poverty. Currently, 14% of
low-paid employees live in poverty. (5% of all
employees now live in poverty).
Since the early 1970s GDP (national
income) has doubled, but in real terms (ie allowing
for inflation) the bottom 10% of jobs pay less
now than in 1970. The minimum wage would have
to be around £6.50 per hour to bring low-pay
up to the 1970 level.
Meanwhile, in America, 40% of those
served in soup kitchens have jobs. Nearly a
fifth of all homeless people in the USA are
employed in jobs.