Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Jobs, Meaningful Jobs, No Jobs - March 22 Insight TV discussion

An important discussion broke out on the Newcomers and Refugees segment of Rogers TV Insight programme, featuring a contribution by TorontotheBetter spokesman Taodhg [Tim] Burns about  the social economy and its potential for what Insight moderator Ranjit Khatkur appropriately termed "meaningful jobs." The valid point made by one Insight panel member was that immigrants and refugees in particular (but perhaps anybody) needing a job, is not too concerned with whether the job they may get is "meaningful", as long as it helps them to put food on the table.

Against this there will  be no objection from most, if not all, social economy proponents, I suspect. Nobody is counselling job seekers to wait until they can find a "social economy" job before they work. But,though practical, the question implicitly concedes our main argument for the social economy when it comes to jobs, which is, that, most, if not all, workers, GIVEN THE CHOICE, would, and do, prefer to work in jobs that fulfil whatever they consider to be a worthwhile purpose (above and beyond survival, that is, however undeniably worthwhile it is). In the case of TorontotheBetter this mean jobs that incorporate worker decision-making, environmental conservation and/or community partnership.The problem, then, is not that meaningful work is an extra "frill" over and above the "real" purpose of work:  money to live on. No, the problem is that not enough jobs in the present economy incorporate what we call here a broader social purpose.

The major stress levels being reported in today's workplace are leading to sickness and disability at least in part because so many jobs lack satisfactory meaning to those performing them, particularly when they are working more hours to stay in the same economic place..Would we say that workers rejecting jobs that ignore their human rights, or health and safety, are being too fussy? Of course not. The same should  be true for jobs with social meaning. It is precisely the relative lack of such jobs that makes our call for a social economy in which all jobs have a social meaning beyond, but not as opposed to, financial remuneration, so important. 

To make it easier for workers to  find work that speaks not just to their pocketbook but their values is what prompts Torontothebetter's call to universalize social purpose in the workplace. All work is social, though sadly much of it (company names withheld here) is "anti-social", so the whole economy should be a genuine social economy. More social enterprises and their more fulfilled workers will mean more healthy and financially satisfied workers. 

As has been the case throughout modern history, benefits have never been given to workers freely. We must fight for them. And as workers have done, and continue to, fight for workplace health and safety, which more, though by no means all, now have, we must fight  for work that has meaning. Join TorontotheBetter in this struggle by becoming a member of our Alliance for Toronto's Social Economy [ATSE]. Send return email to with ATSE in the subject line to express your interest. We will be in touch about our plans.                                           

No comments: