Long-hours working on the rise again in Britain

This video from Massachusetts in the USA says about itself:

Here’s an inside look at what life was like for the Lowell mill girls. Pictures are from the actual factory in Lowell.

A music video from the USA which used to be on the Internet was called The Lowell Factory Girl (David Rovics). It used to say about itself:

Young women in the textile mills of Massachusetts died at an average age of 26, constantly inhaling cotton dust, working long hours in unventilated rooms lit by oil lamps. Before their struggles for safer working conditions and better pay bore fruit, often a mill worker’s best hope at a decent life was to marry a farmer, if she could find one who hadn’t lost his land and ended up as a factory hand himself.

From British daily The Guardian:

Long-hours working on the rise again in UK

Lucy Ward, social affairs correspondent

Wednesday November 28, 2007

A culture of working long hours is on the rise once more in the UK after a decade of gradual decline, according to figures today. More than one in eight of the British workforce now work more than 48 hours a week, the maximum allowed under the law unless workers agree to waive that limit. The proportion rises to one in six in London. The figures, highlighted by the TUC and extracted from the latest Labour Force Survey, prompted warnings from campaigners that children and family life risk being squeezed further.

2 thoughts on “Long-hours working on the rise again in Britain

  1. Tomato pickers face 40 percent pay cut
    Posted by: “Compañero” companyero@bellsouth.net chocoano05
    Sat Dec 1, 2007 7:32 pm (PST)
    NY Times, November 29, 2007
    Op-Ed Contributor
    Penny Foolish

    THE migrant farm workers who harvest tomatoes in South Florida have
    one of the nation’s most backbreaking jobs. For 10 to 12 hours a
    day, they pick tomatoes by hand, earning a piece-rate of about 45
    cents for every 32-pound bucket. During a typical day each migrant
    picks, carries and unloads two tons of tomatoes. For their efforts,
    this holiday season many of them are about to get a 40 percent pay

    Florida’s tomato growers have long faced pressure to reduce
    operating costs; one way to do that is to keep migrant wages as low
    as possible. Although some of the pressure has come from increased
    competition with Mexican growers, most of it has been forcefully
    applied by the largest purchaser of Florida tomatoes: American fast
    food chains that want millions of pounds of cheap tomatoes as a
    garnish for their hamburgers, tacos and salads.

    In 2005, Florida tomato pickers gained their first significant pay
    raise since the late 1970s when Taco Bell ended a consumer boycott
    by agreeing to pay an extra penny per pound for its tomatoes, with
    the extra cent going directly to the farm workers. Last April,
    McDonald’s agreed to a similar arrangement, increasing the wages of
    its tomato pickers to about 77 cents per bucket. But Burger King,
    whose headquarters are in Florida, has adamantly refused to pay the
    extra penny – and its refusal has encouraged tomato growers to
    cancel the deals already struck with Taco Bell and McDonald’s.

    This month the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, representing 90
    percent of the state’s growers, announced that it will not allow any
    of its members to collect the extra penny for farm workers. Reggie
    Brown, the executive vice president of the group, described the
    surcharge for poor migrants as “pretty much near un-American.”

    Migrant farm laborers have long been among America’s most
    impoverished workers. Perhaps 80 percent of the migrants in Florida
    are illegal immigrants and thus especially vulnerable to abuse.
    During the past decade, the United States Justice Department has
    prosecuted half a dozen cases of slavery among farm workers in
    Florida. Migrants have been driven into debt, forced to work for
    nothing and kept in chained trailers at night. The Coalition of
    Immokalee Workers – a farm worker alliance based in Immokalee, Fla.
    – has done a heroic job improving the lives of migrants in the
    state, investigating slavery cases and negotiating the
    penny-per-pound surcharge with fast food chains.

    Now the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange has threatened a fine of
    $100,000 for any grower who accepts an extra penny per pound for
    migrant wages. The organization claims that such a surcharge would
    violate “federal and state laws related to antitrust, labor and
    racketeering.” It has not explained how that extra penny would break
    those laws; nor has it explained why other surcharges routinely
    imposed by the growers (for things like higher fuel costs) are
    perfectly legal.

    The prominent role that Burger King has played in rescinding the pay
    raise offers a spectacle of yuletide greed worthy of Charles
    Dickens. Burger King has justified its behavior by claiming that it
    has no control over the labor practices of its suppliers. “Florida
    growers have a right to run their businesses how they see fit,” a
    Burger King spokesman told The St. Petersburg Times.

    Yet the company has adopted a far more activist approach when the
    issue is the well-being of livestock. In March, Burger King
    announced strict new rules on how its meatpacking suppliers should
    treat chickens and hogs. As for human rights abuses, Burger King has
    suggested that if the poor farm workers of southern Florida need
    more money, they should apply for jobs at its restaurants.

    Three private equity firms – Bain Capital, the Texas Pacific Group
    and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners – control most of Burger King’s
    stock. Last year, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd C.
    Blankfein, earned the largest annual bonus in Wall Street history,
    and this year he stands to receive an even larger one. Goldman Sachs
    has served its investors well lately, avoiding the subprime mortgage
    meltdown and, according to Business Week, doubling the value of its
    Burger King investment within three years.

    Telling Burger King to pay an extra penny for tomatoes and provide a
    decent wage to migrant workers would hardly bankrupt the company.
    Indeed, it would cost Burger King only $250,000 a year. At Goldman
    Sachs, that sort of money shouldn’t be too hard to find. In 2006,
    the bonuses of the top 12 Goldman Sachs executives exceeded $200
    million – more than twice as much money as all of the roughly 10,000
    tomato pickers in southern Florida earned that year. Now Mr.
    Blankfein should find a way to share some of his company’s good
    fortune with the workers at the bottom of the food chain.

    Eric Schlosser is the author of “Fast Food Nation” and “Reefer


  2. Pingback: US singer David Rovics interviewed | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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