Politicians hiding the truth about the job market



Saturday, August 16, 2014

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CYNTHIA didn't do too well in school so she was an ideal candidate for a poorly paid job in the back office of a bookshop. Almost two weeks on the job, she has been absent for three days and is about to be told to go home and never return.

Foolish young woman who, at 17 years old, has already prepared herself for stepping down in life. A few months before she was relating to me the horrors of older men making her offers of cash in exchange for sex and also telling me that she didn't want to work as a bar maid. Now, based on her work ethic, it seems that even that job would be too much for her.

"I was having belly pains with my period and I couldn't go to work," she said. As if she didn't already know I told her that her period is a natural part of a woman's life and that she will have to structure her life to deal with monthly cramps.

"Are you planning to be absent three, four days every month and still expect to get paid?" She gesticulates as if to signify 'whatever'.

I told her that landing an eight to four job in these times is like gold. "I know people with two university degrees who cannot find jobs. The world of work is changing and employers are no longer willing to offer on-the-job training. People who land jobs now will have to begin to add value from day one. You were lucky, but you still don't know it."

She then asked me to lend her $6,000 to purchase a mobile phone. "How will you pay me back when you are certain to be fired?" was my query.

"You don't have to worry, I will find it," she responded. I told her that I will lend her the funds, but only when she returns to work and determines that her job is secure. That was two weeks ago and I haven't heard from her since.

Recently, I posed a question to the moderator of the Caribbean Online forum, Trevor Campbell, in relation to the rapidly changing face of employment in the global marketplace.

I said: "I have been following this subject with much interest for a number of reasons. One, no local politician from either the PNP or the Opposition JLP has dared to make an attempt to address this issue.

"Two, as a journalist who operates at 'street level' I have been trying to convey to many young people who constantly approach me either looking for paid employment or just asking about 'weh di wuk deh' and where are the factories in or near their communities to provide them with jobs. It is with much pain that I am forced to tell them that eight to four work is a thing of the past."

With this new global push towards a 'jobless recovery', especially where one robot can replace 10 or so workers, I am wondering if capitalism in this new era is not creating its own demise.

New, increased, robotic production. More efficient production. More goods in the marketplace. So, with a significantly decreased population of viably employed people, who will be the consumers to purchase this huge influx of cheaper commodities? Is everyone suddenly going to have to become a skilled engineer in robotics?

The response is one I believe deserves study by our policymakers, especially those younger ones who know the truth but are being forced to conceal it from a nation of people who are often confounded that job creation is just not happening.

"Mark, your insightful observations and probing questions are on target! In reference to the silence of the politicians on this issue, you might have noticed what Hilbourne Watson and I said in our recent article titled 'Reparations campaign distracts from challenges facing Caribbean' (StaBroek News.com, Aug 11, 2014):

"The fact that the Caribbean intelligentsia and the Caricom leaders are so preoccupied with the past is reflective of a lack of any clear understanding of the process that is unfolding at the global level and what this implies for the future of the region.

"We suggest that the main focus of the Caribbean intelligentsia and the young people in the region should be the discussion of the process that is unfolding, whereby living labour (workers) is being replaced by machines as the latest strategy by capital to increase both the mass and rate of surplus (unpaid) labour. In other words, the aim of capitalists is to produce a greater mass of commodities with less labour.

"Our challenge is to struggle to bring to an end economic exploitation and capitalism. To begin to see this as our real priority could change the terms of discourse and leave behind us the despair and distraction that reparations represent.

"In regards to the implications of the robotics revolution, several of us [on this forum] have made the following points:

"The robotics revolution is laying the material base/foundations for a post-capitalist society. In other words, if we are going to have production with little or no direct human labour, then there will have to be distribution without money, in order for the commodities to be consumed by the majority of the population. This type of economic arrangement would bear little or no resemblance to the process of capitalist accumulation. In other words, while the values of the commodities are determined within the production process (the socially necessary labour time that is required to produce any particular commodity) these values that are embedded within the commodities can only be realised when the commodities are sold/exchanged for money.

"As the study of the history of social change reveals: Economic revolutions set the stage for social and political revolutions. In this respect, the robotics/digital revolution is no different. This economic revolution -- undoubtedly the most far-reaching in human history — is creating a massive global surplus population that are now being viewed as superfluous to the needs of capitalist production. The challenge, therefore, facing the various managers of the capitalist state is how to effectively contain or destroy this population.

"This is perhaps how we can begin to explain what is occurring in places such as Ferguson, Missouri, and the Gaza Strip. In other words, these concrete class struggles/battles are among the birth pangs of a new civilisation that is struggling to be born. Without a sizeable, globally-oriented cadre of highly informed midwives that are capable of explaining, in clear terms, each stage of the birth process, as it unfolds, and are able to provide effective political leadership for these struggles, humanity faces the prospect of sliding deeper and deeper into barbarism.

"I hope this helps to clarify some of the important questions/issues that you have raised."

Dr Cole's dry dock project on target

Amid the political noise and feel-good speeches during Independence, there was the voice of reason and man of action in my friend, Dr Lloyd Cole, convenor/founder of International Dry Dock Services and Allied Facilities. One essential part of an important MOU read as follows:

"Memorandum of Understanding on possession of land between International Dry Dock Services and Allied Facilities & SCJ Holdings Limited

"This Memorandum Of Understanding is hereby made and entered into by SCJ Holdings Limited, with its registered office situated at Lot #12 Innswood, Old Harbour Road, Spanish Town, in the parish of St Catherine (hereinafter called SCJH) of the first part and International Dry Dock Services and Allied Facilities, with its registered office situated at 139 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6, in the parish of St Andrew (hereinafter called IDSAF) of the second part and collectively IDSAF and the SCJH are hereinafter called "the parties" on the 8th day of August of 2014.

"Purpose: The parties are desirous of formalising this Memorandum of Understanding to establish and outline a clear framework of cooperation in relation to the implementation of the Dry Dock Project. This project will significantly impact the country's industrial and economic progress, hence has received strong endorsement from the Government of Jamaica and corporate bodies. The SCJH will be granting IDSAF the right to be in possession of 279.0826 hectares and being part of land contained and registered in Certificate of Title recorded at Volume 1304 Folio 620, and being that area outlined on the attached sketch map in Appendix One of the shape and dimension as appears in said sketch map of lands located in Jackson Bay, Clarendon, to conduct their pre-feasibility studies for the construction of a major commercial marine dock and servicing facility on the said lands.

"The partnership established in terms of this framework agreement and subsequent agreements is an unincorporated association with the exclusive purpose of making the lands available for the implementation of this project."

As always I offer my heartiest congratulations to all involved and especially to Lloyd Cole for moving one step closer to making the dry dock a reality. Dr Fritz Pinnock, executive director of the Caribbean Maritime Institute, another man of action and a straight-talker, wrote to Dr Cole and said: "I greet with the richest blessings. This is to the point and in order. You have my support."





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