Sunday, April 7, 2013


DATELINE: FINANCIALLY RAVENOUS AND MORALLY BANKRUPT– Today, I am ashamed – for Canada. I am ashamed of a government that touts itself as transparent (unless you consider that robocalls thing, and the contempt of parliament thing, and the... oh, hell, we don't have time for all the things) and caring about the people, when really all it is concerned about is back-room deals and bankable dollars. Yes, once more, he sells out Canadians and Canadian ideals for the sake of the almighty dollar.

You see, the Harper government has been running around to all these third-world countries, cooking up deals and brokering agreements to ‘grow the economy’. I am not sure who exactly is supposed to be experiencing this growth, but what the hell. It’s what Stephen Harper says, and he wouldn’t lie to us, would he? (other than that robocalls thing, and the contempt of parliament thing...) From this backroom bullshit emerges another lovely tidbit – the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (which ironically enough has links on the Canadian Government website, but no page at the end of that link tonight. If you can't stand the heat, shut the kitchen down?). This bill allows companies to import workers from other countries to fill jobs in Canada. I mean, it’s not like we have a job shortage or people living here looking for work, right?

Enter the Royal Bank of Canada – that esteemed bastion of Canadian society since the dawn of time, at least by Canadian standards. Thanks to Harper and his need to pander to large corporations who want cheap slave labour, the bank has found yet another way to play the game. RBC brought in employees from India on the TFW program. They then had the unmitigated gall to ask their current staff to help train the new guys. Once that training was complete, the trainers (aka loyal Canadian RBC employees) were given the boot. Oh, wait... hang on... RBC didn’t do THAT! They instead hired iGate to do that, an American subsidiary of an Indian company that excels in outsourcing jobs to India. That one degree of separation, apparently, is all it takes to make this okay, at least according to RBC spokespeople. I mean, we're talking suppliers here; not people, right?

The new employees on the FTW program, when their visas to work here run out in 2015, will then go back to India... and take the rest of the RBC IT jobs with them. They will train people in India to do the jobs, and the IT staff here? Well, let’s just say that, luckily for them, people have been brought in to ‘help them brush up their resumes’ and to help them discover their real, true, deep ‘skills and aspirations,’ at least according to RBC’s HR kingpin and uber spin-meister Zabeen Hirji. She also said that some ‘choose to retire early; of course, we support them through that.’ I guess that would be the over-50 group, who will have no choice because they are considered corporately too old to retrain. How nice of the bank to be so considerate of their employees.

Well, you ask, what could really be wrong with this? Why get all worked up about 40 employees? Today, it’s 40. For them, it is one hell of a big deal, because you might not have noticed, but there are not a lot of jobs out there. When they move the entire IT department to India, it will be one hell of a lot more than 40 jobs. More than that, though, is the fact that it is just plain wrong. When we have unemployed people in Canada, our whole economy suffers. Big companies, instead of supporting the Canadian economy and doing something for those wonderful huge damned tax breaks Harper has given them as incentives to create jobs, pocket more money, while employing people at greatly reduced cost. When people don’t work, they don’t buy houses, they don’t buy cars, they don’t take trips, they don’t build new homes, they don’t send their kids to university... No one can afford these things if they don’t have work. If we don’t have people purchasing items, small stores and manufacturers have to shut down, adding to the growing list of unemployed people. It's been already hard enough as the cost of living -- housing, vehicles, gas, food, clothing -- has gone up exponentially, while wages have been stale or on the decline for years. To find a full-time job is close to impossible now, because no employer wants to have to pay benefits at all, so they play the game, work the employee for as many hours as they possibly can without allowing them to be technically full-time, because, well, as you can see, the poor big corporations with their multi-million dollar executive bonuses simply cannot bear the burden of offering paid holidays or healthcare.

The other problem with this whole scenario is that RBC gets even richer off the backs of even more destitute people, while putting people here out of work. As they deal through iGate, they know damned well that no one will give a shit about the working conditions for the people in India. It isn't technically RBC's problem; remember that one degree of separation that allows them to justify all of this? We have laws here against slave labor for a reason. Over there, who cares. They will pay them chicken shit wages, no benefits, offer no safe place to work, take advantage of people who should not be taken advantage of, and now you have even more people being screwed by the bank. But those people welcome a job, you argue! True, they probably do, but how do you morally, ethically, humanely use that to justify the use of ‘slave labor’. I am sure that children in sweathouses are thankful to be there too, because it’s a roof and perhaps some scraps of food at the end of the day; who cares if they have to work 16 hour days at the age of 10 in order to get that scrap, as long as the product rolls out and the money rolls in.

Yes, we should be helping people globally. Helping! Not knowingly, wilfully taking advantage of them while also happily screwing the people who have been loyal to you for years. I am fully aware that other companies do it, that other banks do it, that it’s the ‘in thing’ to do, but it is playing with fire on a national economic level, and it is morally reprehensible. If we don’t stand up now and say this has to stop, at what point do we?

Yes, Zabeen Hirji should be fired. She should be on the top of the list (but not the only name on the list) if for no other reason than that insultingly laughable excuse of an interview she gave to CBC. Thank you, CBC, for calling her on the crappola she was spinning. That she would think we would shrug and say ‘oh, okay then’ is truly unbelievable. The problem with shit-canning her arse is that she will still get at least a 7-digit bonus – I can guarantee you that no one who has their job outsourced will receive even a fragment of that sort of bonus, although God knows they probably have put the time and the passion worthy of it into their jobs. Of course, those employees won't be adding those big bucks to the Conservative party coffers come election time, will they -- at least not like bank executives will be.

Even if you don’t have accounts at RBC, you should be paying attention to this, before your job is also outsourced. This is not just a blip that will disappear or correct itself in a day or two. This is part of a pattern that will, in short order, kill the North American economy, something that is fragile enough already. It is time to contact your local politicians, your federal politicians, Stephen Harper’s office, the Royal Bank and anyone else who is doing this through the gaping loopholes conveniently placed in the TFW Program, and say ‘Enough!’ Someone has to start standing up for what is right. Why not us? Why not now?

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