Shit jobs For the last 6 weeks I have been working a factory job. Today I spent all day (6-2) sweeping up. Some of the tasks are incredible. All day long doors pass along a conveyer belt. Your task is to place two pieces of card on top. Only the abnormal will avoid suicidal thoughts. Doors fall of the end of a conveyer belt, you stack them up on pallets about 30 high. All day. Heavy, exhausting terminally boring. If you are lucky you will get to feed a machine with some factor of production, for example a sheet of thin wood for the outer skin of the door. All day you place these ''skins'' on the belt. The sweeping up task is not so bad when you think about the alternatives. Some communists do not believe in what they regard as antiquated notions of heaven and hell. I have to reconsider. Hell is real. A conveyer belt moves through it.


Oh! Come on Stevein. Stop whining. You're lucky to have a job at all. Just spare an unselfish thought for those who don't! And of course hell is real. It's another word for capitalism. But consider this. The conveyor belt is also the road to success. Don't forget that!

Think of Donald Trump. Now there's a REAL success story and a good advert for hard work if ever there was one. And the next President of the USA too, God bless him!

Obviously people see it as better than nothing. Ability to endure the conditions makes them a superior layer of the class relative to the jobless, more precarious sectors, but worse off than others.

It is these differences, even if only slight, which capitalism exploits, divide and rule.

Even though your comment may have been tongue in cheek, they reveal a thought process of conservation, often manifested in brutal individualism and/or vicious racism.

But as the situation deteriorates as Marxists expect, such perspectives of relative privelige will be ever less justified.

stevein7 wrote: "Even though your comment may have been tongue in cheek, they reveal a thought process of conservation, often manifested in brutal individualism and/or vicious racism."

I wonder if you could explain what you mean by this clearly significant statement that means something to you but not to me. Though I believe it should probably slice me open?

I have been thinking about what you said stevein7. You don't need to explain. I am sliced open!

May I apologise for my comment stevein7? You've made me think!

No need to apologise at all.

Had a personal email exchange with Stevein (before I even spotted this thread) and he put in this quote about the situation of the worker which I thought worth sharing.

"On leaving this sphere of simple circulation or of exchange of

commodities, which furnishes the “Free-trader Vulgaris” with his views

and ideas, and with the standard by which he judges a society based on

capital and wages, we think we can perceive a change in the

physiognomy of our dramatis personae. He, who before was the

money-owner, now strides in front as capitalist; the possessor of

labour-power follows as his labourer. The one with an air of

importance, smirking, intent on business; the other, timid and holding

back, like one who is bringing his own hide to market and has nothing

to expect but — a hiding."

No prizes for working our who said it.

Of course, the job situation of the well educated is much better....


One in three graduates aged under 35 regret going to university because of the huge debts they accumulated

  • 37 per cent of 18 to 35-year-old graduates regret getting a degree
  • Debts prove a strain when *struggling* with rent and paying into pensions
  • Tuition fees are due to rise in line with inflation next year to £9,250 a year

More than a third of millennials wish they had skipped university due to the huge debts they have accumulated, a report has found.

Around 37 per cent of 18 to 35-year-old graduates said they regretted getting a degree, while 49 per cent believe they would have got to where they are now without it.

And despite having had longer to see the benefits of their degree, 25 to 35-year-olds were as likely to say they regretted university due to their debts as those aged between 18 and 24.

The research, from the insurer Aviva, will add further evidence that debts amassed at university continue to be a significant burden to graduates for many years.

The government claims student loan repayments are manageable because graduates only pay back 9 per cent of what they earn over £21,000.

However, the payments can be a strain when young adults are also struggling with high rents, paying into pensions and trying to save for a housing deposit or first child.

The study comes after the government announced tuition fees are due to rise in line with inflation next year to £9,250 a year.

Louise Colley, a director at Aviva, said: ‘Millennials are plagued with uncertainty about the outlook for their financial futures, an issue which has not been helped by the uncertainty of today’s economic and political climate.

‘The financial hangover from university has also led many in this age group to question whether in hindsight they made the right decision and how much value it has brought to their current position.’

Looking across Britain, millennials in the North East of England, West Midlands and Wales were most likely to say they regretted going to university given the amount of student debt they have.

And 18 to 35-year-olds in the North East were also most likely to believe they could have got to where they are now without going to university.

Millennials in the South East were the least likely to regret going to university or say they could have got to where they are now without it.

Those in the South West of England were most likely to say their generation had been priced out of the property market, with 46 per cent agreeing with this, while those in the North West of England were the least likely to believe this is the case, at 23 per cent.

Across the survey, millennials typically estimated it will take them another 11 years to clear their debts, although 22 per cent said they do not know how much they have left to pay off.

Loan payments can be a strain when young adults are also struggling with high rents, paying into pensions and trying to save for a housing deposit or first child (file image)

On average, they have just £156 left over at the end of each month after paying essential living costs.

While over a third are hoping a new job will increase their salary, a similar proportion are relying on being given money.

Around 18 per cent say they will get it in the form of a family inheritance while 12 per cent said they would receive some other financial gift to help them in the future.

Millennials in Scotland, Wales and the North East were the most likely to say they were relying on borrowed money to cover their rent.

Those in London were the most likely to have received financial help from their parents, with 63 per cent having done so.

One in six were pinning their hopes on a lottery win to improve their financial situation.

Aviva used two surveys of around 2,000 people to make the findings.

In a separate study, researchers found students suffering from debt worries at university are more at risk of suffering from depression and alcohol dependency.

The research by the University of Southampton and Solent NHS Trust found that symptoms of mental health conditions worsened over time for those who were struggling to pay their bills.

....from Daily Mail.

Still at the factory.

I am now permanently part of a 4 man team.

We bounce between two jobs, one involves fabricating doors, another is wrapping in plastic with sales literature.

Machinery dates to 1985. I am told it is some 16 years beyond its expiration date. Constantly breaking down, hence we bounce between 2 jobs.

To cope with the job, the other 3 are regularly using cocaine. At 30 quid a gramme it must be poor grade. I am told this is the secret behind high wages - overtime, 12 hour days, weekend work, 7 days per week. Maintained by cocaine.

As a 50 year old with more sense and less financial pressure, such insanity is not for me.

But it is obvious that the mass market for stimulants, sterods and other PEDs is not restricted to a few Olympic hopefuls.

Probably my time in the job is about to end, will try to get something a little closer to home, this involves too much tavelling, too physical, night work...I am not as desperate as the younger lads. Reminds me of battery hens.

I left the job approx 2 weeks ago.

I have been offered a few classes teaching Spanish this academic year.

These usually run Sep- June.

Some thoughts.

Not all negative. I have done a few different non academic jobs in my time, factory work, pizza delivery, building sites and consider all to be a useful contribution, something to take pride in. Admittedly pizzas are pretty much junk food so positive social effect is minimal there.

The more physical tasks developed me bodily and gave me an awareness of the importance of fitness, work capacity and the like.

Using large scale machinery this time was a first for me. In the factory I was impressed by the more modern elements. I marvelled at two huge robotic arms which could hold, turn, sand and smooth heavy firedoors of 40kg so faultlessly.

The scale of production, the ability to produce so many doors is staggering.

However, negatives are equally obvious.

Exploitation. Monotony. Hierarchy. Fatigue. Boredom. Lack of control. To be continued...

We discussed various models of exploitation at the weekend from the gig economy (with its use of algorythms the FT labour correspondent described as "Taylorism on steroids") to robotisation. What seems odd in your ex-workplace is the robotisation of the production line but not of the packing and stacking. Did they not have enough profit to invest in it or is the cost of labour so low that it is not worth the investment (especially in the current depressed state of the economy)?

I suppose when one hears or reads about robotisation in the abstract one imagines a gleaming brand new facility where the highly expensive modern robots quietly process grand quantities of materials, perhaps making a vast amount of money for the individual company but undermining the profits of all rivals. However my experience was much less 'pristine'. The factory was growing, I myself was involved in a clean up of demolished offices which were making room for a new paint line. Old unreliable lines (picture a hundred metres of moving machinery, half made doors are placed on one end via forklift, stacked on the other by human hand after certain elements have been added alongside plastic wrap etc) alongside what looked like state of the art robotics.

I do not know how healthy the factory was in terms of profitability but the ambitious expansion suggests that it is robust.

The price of labour question is obviously key but not so straight forward. Despite local unemployment on a huge scale however disguised, they are always advertising for new staff who come in as agency workers. Initially I thought that after a few months the agency worker would be offered a full time position but in conversation with other agency workers I found some who had been there over a year and had no such offer. New faces appeared all the time and people left all the time. Many of the jobs I would say are simply too physically demanding regardless of level of pay. Could you, for example, run a marathon everyday even if I offered you a fortune? And of course, in this situation no fortune is offered. The job is minimum wage for nearly all but a few supervisors. It is not much more than minimum wage for the full time workers. Perhaps the modern young workers are not as robust as their counterparts a hundred years ago, but many simply cannot hack the fatigue, the muscular strain, endurance, the repetitive strain pains which gradually come on. Few females work there on the factory floor. Many are softened through long stretches on the dole and even prison. Some of the young lads I chatted with had been in and out of the factory many times, they could stand it for a while but then quit and subsequenly returned. It wasn't just the factors I have already mentioned. The conditions are hard to take for other reasons. The background noise is such that we had to wear earplugs all the time. Any communication was problematic, hard to hear what people were saying. This added to the psychological effects of the environment. I felt like I was swimming underwater.

So I doubt that it could be run purely on minimum wage workers. The company has to offer a little more both in the wage and job conditions (security) to retain the more experienced full timers which must have some inpact on profit.

My impression was that the divide between the agency staff (minmum wage, you could travel to work and be told that there was no work on that day, go home, no compensation for travel, happened to me once) and the full time workers, (shift allowance worth approx ten pounds per day, guarantee of work, option for weekend working, authority over agency staff) was fundamental in keeping up the discipline and worked almost like an overt racism. Full timers wear yellow, agency wear blue.

Excellent description Stevein with thoughtful comments. A comrade working in a Best Western Hotel in London reported on his conditions to us last week. The workers get a contract but many of them don't understand enough English to read it. This for example there is a get out clause for the company saying that it is staff's duty to respect health and safety requirements. However in a busy kitchen with one chef and one waiter the staff are chasing their tails. Mistakes in a dangerous environment can be costly. When in a rush one chef picked up a red hot bowl that he did not know had just come out of the oven he got first degree burns to his hands and had to go off work. At first the manager recognised that this was the firm's fault and promised SSP but the main manager claimed it was his own fault and thus refused to pay him. As he has two kids and the pay is so low (minimum wage per hour) he was compelled to work with bandaged hands. The management alos arbitrarily change the shift patterns so that workers might as well be on a zero hours contract. When I was in contact with him our comrade S was working until midnight (he lives 20-30 minutes from the hotel) and then was told that he was working the next morning at 6.00 (which meant he had 5 hours sleep maximum. The cleaners in the same hotel are refused the right to go to the toilet, a glass of water from the bar or to eat during their shift. All the workers are offered a 40 hour week contract but also can waive (sign away) their rights in this respect by signing a document which means that they can work 48 hours. Given the cost of living in London and the low wages this is a form of blackmail which few if any can resist. And after they have done all this the management will still suddenly take on more staff and suddenly they don't even get 30 hours a week. Our comrade tried to organise resistance but found that most were too scared (they had kids, they got their pay made up by WTC or child benefit) to even sign a collective letter to the managment. Oddly enough he refused any of their really outrageous demands and they left him alone but simply went and asked other workers to do what he refused to do but then he has no dependents and was ready to leave at any time.

Your description above, Cleishbottom, of the circumstances and indignities wreaked on workers who it seems have, for one reason or another, no defensive strategies available, made me weep in silence. I am as frustrated as they are. But also as neutered or so it seems. The bourgeoisie have cut off our balls. And this is the final indignity.

The disgusting power of management appears unassailable in the situations you describe. Almost as unassailable as the over-confident and dictatorial prime minister Theras May, who has announced she'll be boss until at least 2020, when she may be democratically elected to her current office. Democratic in the limited bourgeois sense that is.

Is there no limit anymore to the unfettered power and ugliness of the ruling class? Or is it just that the gloves are off, and the bourgeoisie everywhere is showing its expensively capped teeth in perhaps what they intuitively sense is their approaching last stand? (Not that our rulers keep their teeth in their gloves, only their deadly finger nails.)

Refused the right to go to the toilet!!?? Let's organize a mass shit-in! Ah? If only we dared. But the time will come when we will have to dare, like it or not.

No doubt it is frustrating to have to endure a present moment seemingly so favourabe for the ruling class, but as Marxists we know where the cracks in the edifice are.

We know that the mechanism of extracting profit from the productive process is ever more difficult for the capitalist class and this is leading them to push a working class which is apparently steeped in illusion and reactionary ideas into an ever more untenable position where it is ever more difficult to wear blinkers in the face of exploitation. A position where the revolutionary perspective is increasingly the only practical attitude.

We understand that the trade union dominated militancy of yesteryear will not repeat nor would that be desirable, but another reaction must occur, one which is not merely economic but political. This is the achillees heel of capitalism, the emergence of a political reference point which can articulate the myriad discontents and unite the minority who recognise the need for a political solution, perhaps better said, a conscious solution.

Huge increase in number of graduates 'bad for UK economy' The GuardianLarry Elliott Economics editor18 hrs ago

The government is being urged to end the political drive to get more people into university after new research showed that graduates are “colonising” jobs in banking, education, the police and estate agency that were the preserve of school-leavers in the past.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development – which represents people working in human resources – said the all-party consensus to get more young people into higher education was no longer justified given student debt and the careers many ended up pursuing.

Successive governments have said that rising university numbers are justified by a graduate premium – higher lifetime earnings that more than compensate for tuition fees and living expenses.

But the CIPD said the notion of a tertiary education premium is being called into question by graduates’ average debt of £44,000 and official estimates that 45% of loans would never be paid off. Noting that its previous research had shown more than half of graduates take non-graduate jobs, the CIPD said the current system was not just bad for many of those who had been to university but also for school-leavers who were overlooked for jobs that did not require a degree.

Its study of 29 occupations employing almost a third of the UK’s workforce found:

  • 35% of bank and post office clerks have degrees, 10 times the percentage in 1979.
  • 43.9% of police officers entering the force at the rank of sergeant or below have a university qualification, up from 2% in 1979.
  • 41% of new jobs in property, housing and estate management are graduates, compared with 3.6% in 1979.
  • The number of newly-employed teaching assistants with a degree has increased from 5.6% to 36.9% since 1979.

The CIPD said that in 1979 around 12% of young people in the UK were involved in higher education. This figure had risen fourfold to 48% by 2014-15, it added.

Peter Cheese, CIPD chief executive,said: “This report shows clearly how the huge increase in the supply of graduates over the last 35 years has resulted in more and more occupations and professions being colonised by people with degrees, regardless of whether they actually need them to do the job.

“Governments of all colours have long had a ‘conveyor belt’ approach to university education, with a rhetoric that has encouraged more and more students to pursue graduate qualifications. However, with this research showing that for many graduates, the costs of university education outweigh its personal economic benefits, we need a much stronger focus on creating more high-quality alternative pathways into the workplace, such as higher level apprenticeships, so we really do achieve parity of esteem between the two routes.”

The CIPD report is likely to intensify the debate about whether university courses are good value for all students. Supporters of the current approach say that limiting numbers would result in higher education being dominated by children from better-off families, and that courses increasingly have a vocational bent to prepare young people better for their careers.

But the CIPD said the Brexit vote made it important for the government to take stock of policy towards higher education and skills.

It called on ministers to improve the quality of careers advice to ensure young people are better informed about their future careers; a shift in emphasis on apprenticeships to make quality of courses a higher priority than the numbers involved; and a clear focus in the government’s forthcoming industrial strategy on creating more high-skilled jobs.

“It goes without saying that the UK needs a world-class higher education system, but this report really does provide a reality check on the assumption that continually increasing the numbers of people going to university truly adds the right value for learners of all ages, employers and the economy,” Cheese said.

“Graduates are increasingly finding themselves in roles which don’t meet their career expectations, while they also find themselves saddled with high levels of debt. This ‘graduatisation’ of the labour market also has negative consequences for non-graduates, who find themselves being overlooked for jobs just because they have not got a degree, even if a degree is not needed to do the job.

“Finally, this situation is also bad for employers and the economy as this type of qualification and skills mismatch is associated with lower levels of employee engagement and loyalty, and will undermine attempts to boost productivity.”

The number of agency workers is set to reach one million by 2020 if current growth trends continue, according to Resolution Foundation research.

Describing agency workers as "the forgotten face" in the debate around insecure work, the think tank estimates a full-time agency worker gets £430 less than an employee in the same role.

The current number of 865,000 has grown by 30% since 2011, it said.

Last week, the government announced a review into modern working practices.

The Resolution Foundation, which campaigns on issues around low pay, said women accounted for 85% of the growth in temporary agency workers.

It did not explain why that was, but it will form part of an 18-month investigation into the subject.

The organisation says the workers are disadvantaged not only by lower pay, but also because they are not entitled to sick or parental leave pay and are more easily dismissed.

The number of agency workers is set to reach one million by 2020 if current growth trends

Mr Carney's (governor, Bank of England) speech provided at least some of the potential answers.

Among them is an extraordinary chart which shows long-term (10-year) real income growth going all the way back to 1850.

What it shows is that the recent drop in real wages (essentially, your salary minus inflation) represents, in Mr Carney's words, "the first lost decade since the 1860s".

He also nods to the rise in inter-generational inequality, pointing out that "a typical millennial earned £8,000 less during their twenties than their predecessors".

"Why," he asks, "doesn't it feel like the good old days?

Because anxiety about the future has increased, because productivity hasn't recovered, and, as a consequence of the latter, because real wages are below where they were a decade ago - something that no-one alive today has experienced before.

And today (Dec 7) Radio 4's Today programme ran the news story that a million more workers are lving below the poverty line (defined as earning less than two thirs the median wage or c. £7000 if you are single or if in a family of 4 with less than £22000 combined income). The "record number of jobs" they keep boasting about is put in perspective - the working class continue to pay for the crisis.

"More than 7 million people in the UK are living in poverty despite being part of a working family, according to a study which uncovers how deprivation is increasingly linked to the high cost and insecurity of private rented accommodation.

The report, commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) also found that disability is increasingly linked to the changing nature of poverty. If the costs of disability are taken into account, half of those in poverty are either disabled or living with a disabled person."


Over the last seven years, 14 million more people have left the labor force.

  • The lowest labor force participation rate since the 1970s.
  • 1 in 5 American households do not have a single family member in the labor force.
  • 23.7 million Americans in their prime-earning years [ages 25-54] are out of the labor force – an increase of 1.8 million over the last seven years.
  • Real GDP grew only 1.1% in the second quarter of this year. Over the last seven years, real GDP grew 2.1% the slowest seven-year period since at least the 1940s.
  • It’s the weakest so-called recovery since the Great Depression.
  • Hourly earnings and weakly earnings are lower today than they were in 1973.
  • The number of Americans on Food Stamps during Obama’s time in office has increased by more than 12 million.
  • 2 million more Latinos are in poverty today than when President Obama took his oath of office less than eight years ago.
  • 45% of African-American children under 6 are living in poverty.
  • 1 in 6 American men between the ages of 18-34 are either in jail or out of work.
  • Student loan debt exceeds $1.3 trillion — nearly doubling under the Obama administration.
  • Since President Obama took office, the national debt has doubled.
  • U.S. trade deficit in goods reached nearly 800 billion dollars last year alone.
  • The U.S. homeownership rate fell to 62.9 percent in the second quarter – the lowest rate in 51 years.From the official Donald J Trump