Monday, January 24, 2022

‘Antiwork’ movement increased after millions of people left

An Australian worker embracing the “antiwork” trend has revealed an email from her employer was the “final straw”, as experts warned of mass resignations.

Over the weekend, an employee of hospitality giant ALH shared an email from the company informing employees of their right to leave if they contract COVID-19.

Permanent team members who have no personal or carer leave available “will be required to take annual leave, long service leave or unpaid leave”, the email said.

For casual employees who “do not earn personal/carer leave”, “we encourage team members to investigate what government assistance may be available”.

“I’m sick of being abused and used by corporations,” wrote Reddit user BoxerDuckling, who posted the image to the site’s popular “antiwork” forum on Saturday.

“This is my last straw. I’ll explore new possibilities next week.”

The user, who said they were a casual employee at a bottle shop, said ALH had not provided “sufficient support for our staff dealing with difficult customers”.

“We often have people who refuse to wear masks, or simply don’t,” he wrote.

“I am not going to risk my life, to a crowd of angry alcoholics who do not want to wear a mask. It’s a very difficult situation. And the reality I have to face, as well as others. I felt more confident knowing that I wouldn’t have to worry about money if I got sick – but now it’s a threat to my livelihood and that of my co-dwellers. ,

Antiwork, a movement advocating for employees to leave the “modern-day workplace” and prioritize their “individual needs and wants,” has risen rapidly in prominence over the past two years as the coronavirus pandemic has forced many people to lose their careers. forced to reconsider.

It’s especially popular in the United States, where people working in all industries are leaving their jobs like never before — a record 4.5 million Americans quit in November, the Labor Department revealed last week.

The job openings and labor turnover summary showed labor force participation – the percentage of the working-age population that is either employed or actively looking for work – remained below pre-pandemic levels despite record job openings .

This trend has been dubbed “The Great Resignation” or “The Big Quiet”.

A similar movement in China, “lying down” – essentially to get less – is becoming more popular among young people, a concern in Beijing. Chinese state media have labeled it “shameful”, and internet censors are cracking down on discussion of the trend.

While some experts have warned of a similar “great resignation” trend in Australia, others say such predictions are exaggerated.

“The issue here is not so much resignation, but how to deal with a great resistance to the idea of ​​returning to office and the daily commute,” wrote Mark Wooden and Peter Gahn of the University of Melbourne. Conversation in November.

A lengthy post by an Australian user on Reddit’s Antiworks forum on Monday suggested just that.

“Tomorrow I’m being forced to go back to work, five days a week,” wrote user Ramen_Juice, adding that they were “lost for words”, given the skyrocketing Covid-19 case count was given.

“I enjoyed the balance of working from home – I get to save money and time on transportation, I get to do errands and other household items while I wait for email replies, better work setup, I Gets to prepare food before girlfriend gets back, etc.”

One person replied: “Man, stop asking and start telling. Don’t say, ‘Is it okay?’ They will always say no. You say, ‘Just let me tell you that I will continue working from home.’ The time has come for the bosses to dictate our lives.”

Since October 2020, the Antiwork subreddit has grown from 180,000 members to nearly 1.6 million, with people on the platform – who refer to themselves as “lazy” – telling stories of being “abused” and “exploited” by employers. to share

The FAQ section of the forum makes no apology for the movement’s Marxist roots.

“Antiwork has long been the slogan of many anarchists, communists and other radicals,” the section states.

“We are not against effort, labor or being productive. We are against jobs because they are structured under capitalism and the state – against exploitative economic relations, against hierarchical social relations at the workplace. The issue of r/antiwork is starting the conversation to troubleshoot work as we know it today.”

The most popular posts, attracting over 10,000 comments in some cases, are resignation emails or screenshots of text message exchanges – some of which have been accused of being fake.

“As you know, I found out my dad passed away yesterday,” one person wrote in a purported text message to his boss, asking why he didn’t come to work. “I am sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you.”

“My uncle died a few days ago, I lost my grandmother,” Boss wrote back. “Stop suffering.”

The user replied, “Mail me my check. I quit. And go f**k yourself.”

A December 2021 survey of 12,689 of the Forum’s members found that more than three quarters were based in North America and less than 3 percent were based in Australia.

Users were largely 60 percent male, those aged 25 to 34 made up less than half of the bulk, and nearly two-thirds said they were employed full-time.

Doreen Ford, the forum’s moderator and early pioneer of the Antiworks movement, told financial Times She spent 10 years working in retail stores around Boston and hated it.

At the suggestion of her grandmother, she quit her traditional job in 2017 and now walks dogs part-time.

“Usually, the best, [working was] In vain,” the 30-year-old told the newspaper.

“And at worst it was abusive, degrading and exploitative. I think there are a lot of situations that don’t make sense, that don’t even exist. You are just pushing on papers for no good reason. It doesn’t really help anyone.”

Ms Ford said those who had stopped working tend to operate their own microbusinesses like hers, or work as few hours as possible in part-time jobs to survive, while picking up roommates or for food. Lower your cost of living by dumpster-diving.

“Most of us are just normal people,” she said. “We have jobs we don’t like, that’s the whole point of why we’re in the movement to begin with.”

Companies across the United States, from McDonald’s to Amazon and FedEx, have reported difficulty attracting workers despite high wages.

Many are starting to offer perks like college tuition, sign-on bonuses, and even free iPhones to lure young employees.

While it is unclear to what extent cultural trends such as antiwork are contributing to issues in the jobs market – in contrast to other factors such as vaccine mandates, or liberal pandemic unemployment benefits – Goldman Sachs warned in November that the movement Introduced “Long Lasting”. risk” for labor force participation.

Professor Benjamin Hunnicutt of the University of Iowa, whose books on the history of the work are featured in r/Antiwork’s Library, “we probably believe that for the wealthiest among us there may be a choice to spend our lives serving their benefit.” ” Said financial Times,

“Maybe there are other things to do with our lives besides hoarding profits for the ultra-rich and reclaiming that time to reclaim that time.”

McCrindle Research managing director Sophie Renton argues that the “great resignation” will happen in Australia.

“Throughout the COVID experience, employees have had the opportunity to pause and reflect and re-prioritize their lives,” Ms Renton told Sky News.

“Many people have chosen to live the life they value. If their workplace and their work environment don’t match that, there is an opportunity for them to look elsewhere.”

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