“Working while sick poses risks” – For who really? Ruthless Criticism

“Working while sick poses risks”
– For who really?

More and more scramble “on the line” and go to work sick

Nobody disputes the fact that decreasing absenteeism is not an indicator of the health of income-dependent employees. The extortion which people without their own source of income face when they have to peddle their ability to work to a company for a small salary is just taken for granted by everybody in these parts. Because they are no longer able to exert their energy for a company if it is completely ruined by the factory or the office – and, in addition, by living in a society where epidemics, environmental scares and food poisoning are on the agenda – the company does not record the unsound health of its “dear employees” as a concern, but “absenteeism.” Nice, how working people who get sick are recorded only as a time loss in the production system. The company, namely, which possesses an important means of competition in the compression of work, cannot put up with this. So: the worker gets sick and who suffers? Only the company! If these “absenteeisms” add up, then neither the union nor the company management ask whether maybe this is caused by the organization of the work in its length, duration, severity and intensity, or whether or not maybe reasons for the illness should be searched for in the stress caused by fumes, noise, heat, cold, etc., but they weigh only the main concern and ask whether the woman or the man is still good for the company or whether one must, “unfortunately,” let him or her go. Because employees know that being “let go” does not free them from the drudgery of work but puts them in acute need of money, it happens that more and more of them “strap on” and go to work sick. One may assume that this is not exactly conducive to their recovery process. And if, at any time, the company finds supplies on the labor market which are not yet so worn out, it can happen that anxiety about keeping one's job can also make one sick. Then the extortion almost feeds on itself.

Sickness and health regarded as a matter of willpower

As far as the scandal of this civilized and ultra-modern industrial society goes, wage-earning people are pushed to conceal their physical damage and out of their own free will muster all their energy in order to work despite being sick. That says everything about the participation of people in the wealth that is produced solely by them. To come up with the necessary means of living, they have to act indifferently towards the natural basis of living. Accordingly, private life falls outside the factory. There one must forget that one has actually mustered sweat only to make a “nice life” possible – which, yes, somehow requires health!

The results of this extortion were evaluated for some time as a success in the fight against the growth of “absenteeism.” This was recorded by the companies as shirking and a lack of willingness to work: anyone who doesn't have a doctor's certificate to punch out from work – and in a subordinate position marked by mistrust, one needs such a thing – “skips work.” Illness and health count as a matter of will and not as a matter of a more or less unsound physiology.

“Just don't get sick!”

Now the negative collateral effects of this successful extortion strategy appear quite obvious – and again it is only businesses that suffer. But by no means the people who force themselves to work while sick. “High productivity losses are ascertained,” in addition to “losses in quality,” “reduced performance” and “rising incidences of accidents,” which are attributed to a lack of concentration. “Productivity” and “competitiveness” are at risk if people work sick.

The workforce just can't do anything right for capital: if their illness prevents them from going to the factory, they're bringing ruin to the company with “absenteeism.” If they pull themselves together and still go, then they are – surprise, surprise – below the required performance standard, which has certainly contributed to their suffering, and they're again responsible for the competitive losses of their company. The solution to the dilemma is really quite simple: “Just don't get sick!”

You should always be able and willing

By the way, ergonomics has come up with a great concept for this irresponsible behavior, which has become almost a custom among wage earning workers. The phenomenon is called “presenteeism” and means: a case where workers exceed the presence expected of them! The -ism contains an unmistakeable warning: as agreed, you should line up, you should be punctual, but not just simply present, but always as able and willing to work as the company asks in each case of you. For all those illnesses which occur on account of precisely this type of presence, there is simply no place.