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  • Jack Martindale

Modern Day Slavery

Updated: Sep 5, 2019

Inexcusably, there are inevitably numerous underhand practices around the world.

Corruption is something that should be shamed and the labourers liberated, but this vast scale can easily be seen as unconquerable. I am not by any means trying to infer that any blind eye or just convenient ignorance should ever be encouraged; only, I do not see why we are gradually seeing increasing quantities of free labour being viewed as the norm.

Apart from signifying the ever collective seeming shamelessness of capitalism, I see this as a marked rising in our marked acceptance of inequality in our unfair system. Viewing stark social divides as an inevitability of life, is something that I see as progressively championed by the UK’s status quo i.e. a predominantly seeming ex-Etonian… Well can’t say Government now, because it isn’t a working one, unashamedly.

Of course, the powers that be have the influence to dictate what is seen as the norm, in a sense. This is perhaps how Victorian concepts, such as the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor are once again being given as labels to some of our most needy citizens. Basic classifications such as these, are of course handy for the rich. They license their power and ability to tower it above everybody else. Almost like a subtly evolved caste system, where those with less are propagated to be in their situation for a reason, so we had better all just like it or lump it. Argh.

Whether we need a modern day Keynesianism or revolution, to enable our dated and pre-technological system for the grass to be greener, I could not judge. Perhaps it is with the rose tinted spectacles of somebody that did not actually experience it that provokes a post-neoliberalism 30 year old to enquire, when did we lose our faith in things naturally being made for getting better?

The post-war consensus aside, the fact that 67.23% of the vote was to remain part of the then EEC in the 1975 referendum as opposed to the vote to exit to EU – however unconvincingly – being larger in the increasingly infamous (I acknowledge my pro-remain bias, but…) vote of 2016. This seems to largely mirror the widespread dissatisfaction that society has towards institutions in general being in any way or to serve the interests of those aside from the elite.

This is what anchors me back after my typically round-the-houses, argument has been launched. After my tangent – that albeit hopefully provides some backdrop and context for the situation – it is clear as to how innovations are being introduced by the privileged, for the privileged.

An easy one that I think could be easily tackled, is to make it illegal to ever work for free. Obviously, with the responsibility for ensuring that this law is followed, resting with the employers. Already I can envisage the outcries of “but we need voluntary labour to keep things going”, “it infringes individual liberty to say that people can’t work if they want to” and loads more absolute bollocks I’m sure.

There were similar sounding propositions with the Minimum Wage introduced by New Labour – you know those heathens, who were the most successful Labour Party EVER in winning three consecutive General Elections – in 1999. If you legislate against unpaid internships, something will have to be done too change the norm.

I’m sure that there will still exist many malpractices and the law will be able to be abused in certain ways, but not overwhelmingly and it would set a president. Now, it is almost as if some intrinsic morality is being eroded. Years ago, I did some voluntary work at a local multiple sclerosis charity shop. This was unpaid and I justified in to myself upon it being in an actual charity shop. Yet my Nanna (my Nan was referenced in my last blog!) seemed to find this incredulous. That is the idea that anybody could ever be expected to work for free. The more that I’ve thought about it, the more that I see this as sage wisdom representing the way that things should actually operate: we should all be paid for any time that we give-up. They may say and I know that I am guilty of it myself with supposed ‘publicity work’, that the reward is where the work may take you in the future.

Unpaid internships are a complete farce. Volunteering is great, in the capacity of actually of actually wanting to give something. If somebody is above the working age or signs a self-composed disclaimer from wishing to receive payment, then allowances could be made. Otherwise everybody who offers services should be financially rewarded in an equal way to any other worker.

This is what brings me back to my core belief that social class continues to underpin everything in our society. Maybe I can be seen slightly dated in still being with British writer of the 80s plays Blood Brothers and Educating Rita that is Willy Russell. Class is still omnipresent and our recent Governments have only ensured that it is more intensely binding though extortionate tuition fees. Social malleability and cohesion is something that depressingly can almost be referred to with nostalgia.

Otherwise you are left with our current procedure of desperation to advance in our growingly competitive and aggressive job market forcing people to work for free. Only the rich can ever do this. Unless you’re intellectually challenged, this should surely speak for itself. Volunteering is geared towards benefiting the rich, in isolating the less advantaged from their professions. It is a crude form of social exclusion. Can somebody from a hand-to-mouth background, ever really be expected to be able to devote hours without pecuniary (or just CASH!) reward? Interested in what you think.

Whatever happened to on the job training or simply having the acceptance that everybody needs to learn on the job and can’t be expected to fabricate a litany of accomplishments to get a foot through through the door… It is as disingenuous as it is dreary.

People need to think of this and seriously question this facet of life. It’s not any volunteer’s fault; it is the system and this expectation needs to change. Drastically.