Sometimes I write blogs in a light hearted way, poking fun at various people and groups.
Sometimes, though, it is very difficult to be light hearted at all, especially when there’s a story in the news that not only erodes one’s faith in HR but in humanity in general.
I am, of course, talking about the investigation into low paid and migrant workers are treated in, particularly, meat packing plants and the dreadful treatment they seem to have received.
For me there were a couple of disturbing things about this investigation and its findings.
The first was that it seemed as though there were being some, if not justifications then mitigations, being offered. I’ve heard things like: it was because they were migrant workers and didn’t know their rights or it was in a particularly low paid industry or that the work was very physical.
I’m sorry, am I missing the point here?
These people were being kicked, verbally abused, denied toilet breaks and a generally being treated appallingly. What does it matter that they didn’t know their rights – the people in charge of these factories know their workers’ rights and it’s up to them to enforce them.
But the other thing I don’t understand is what was going through these supervisors’ minds?
I don’t get it.
- At what level did they ever think they were doing the right thing?
- How could they do these things and still think that everything was okay?
- Where did they get the right to treat people in this way?
- What school of management did they graduate from that says this is the best way to motivate people and get them to perform to the highest level?
Let me answer each of those questions in order as far as I possibly can…
- I don’t know
- Nope, got me there, too
- Well, they must have got it from somewhere and I can only think it was systemic. i.e., that’s how we’ve always treated people here, that’s the accepted system for doing things
- There is no such school
I battle against unnecessary legislation all the time, but sometimes I think the legislatures have got it right, especially when our businesses can’t be trusted to look after their people in a decent and humanistic way.