Slavery and Fraud
TLDR : Tech serfdom
For those of you who know me (and for those of you who don’t), the occasional comedy of errors that propelled my life into a weird trajectory is evident from my writing (my friends can attest to my emotional state), and so very rarely does something surprise me beyond the occasional food recipe that makes me as giddy as a young school boy.
And yet, lo and behold, life is full of surprises. I heard a story from a person I knew and it baffled me as to why and how it could happen (economics is the reason, but we’ll get there eventually), surprising me in quite some time (it might be more appropriate to say amusingly shocking).
A modern day tale of serfdom. I wish I was joking, and yet I’m not. A fascinating tale really, so I shall take no more of your time in this frivolity. Let us begin.
Job searching is a job with a delayed payoff, and success is a combination of both luck and skills. Many people search for jobs, and many people find jobs (my friends can attest to that. Me, not so much).
And so when you hear about the jobs that are increasing in this country because of the tech boom that happened over the last few years, you occasionally wonder if you too might be a part of this great miracle. You dream of landing a job yourself in this field.
And yet, beware of false hopes and consequently, false companies that give you hope. Oh sure, they’re registered as companies and pretend to operate as such, but in reality are no more than a fraudulent front for modern day serfdom.
What am I talking about?
I was talking to a friend recently, and she talked about how she was searching for jobs. She already had one (with a salary of around 15,000. Don’t judge, ye merry prick. Be nice), and so I curiously asked her about work in general and life as a whole.
She told me about her company, about the work they do, about how she was reading for tests and so on. Then, I heard something fascinating.
She said that if she stayed longer at her company, she gets outsourced to a client. Curious as to what this means, I asked her to explain.
She got hired by company A. Thing is, they use her to do work for company B. Then she tells me that company A takes the money that they should pay her (about 50–60k) and then pay her share of 15k. Sounds like normal outsourcing, says you. I counter with the following points.
- Company A makes everyone sign a bond for 2 years or something. Now, here’s what a bond is. A company gives you training in your first 3 months, and then, should you leave the company before the bond period is up, you have to pay back your salary + x% interest on it for the training you received (15% for my friend). This is despite the training only lasting for 3 months, and the bond for 2 years.
Sometimes, they make you pay a flat rate, though even this is more than what you’ll make in a year at this supposed company.
I should also mention that the word training be held in the same regard as the word “extended military engagement” be held when said by George Bush (USA never invaded Iraq. It just had an extended military engagement). Basically, hogwash. (My friend says she learns stuff occasionally, though I still have my doubts).
- So why can’t people just walk out of these places and get a normal job?
Company A takes a few documents on arrival. Sometimes, it’s your 10th and 12th class certificates. Sometimes, other stuff (I’ve heard birth certificates too, but I cannot confirm this). They have the originals.
Leave without you paying back whatever they say you owe? They keep them. I believe the word for this is called extortion (or blackmail. You decide).
Next, they also keep whatever experience letter you should get. So all the time you worked? You got no proof.
- Last, and the main reason I call them frauds? They apparently give out fake experience letters to the clients who use you, making you seem more experienced than you are. I’m pretty sure this is somehow illegal (though good luck finding someone to sue and be alive by the time the case gets solved).
The story concluded with her laughing it off and concluding that she’ll get a job within a month and throw that offer letter she got in her manager’s face (hyperbole I assume, though I would be delighted if she actually did). She also told me it was common practice.
Economically, it makes sense. Outsource your product, and pay whatever you would pay to the employee to Company A. You have less people on your payroll and less people to manage. You don’t have to pay recruiters, nor hire people. Or even tempt them to stay if they do get hired. All you do is pay their salary (or even half, who’s counting) to Company A.
Company A keeps everyone in line through whatever extortionary means at their disposal (and possibly backroom blackmailing. I wouldn’t put it past them). They pay these people shit and give them “training”.
These fraudsters are comical. Adam Smith would probably write a chapter about them (or he did, and I didn’t read it yet), Ayn Rand would call these people parasites, Marx would round these people up, Stalin would send them to a gulag, Mao would starve them and Lenin would put them against a wall and shoot them.**
One only hopes that such a thing as labour laws exist. (They do, nobody cares though. Like I said, by the time you win a lawsuit, your grandkids might not be alive to collect the money).
** I don’t generally explain stuff, but here goes anyway.
1. Adam smith wrote Wealth of Nations.
2. Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged. She called a lot of people parasites of society.
3. Marx called this wage theft. Also, he wrote the communist manifesto.
4. Stalin had a reign of terror where he would brand people enemy of the state and send them to gulags. Let’s just say that not many survived.
5. Mao is infamous for 2 things. The Great Leap Forward (google it) and the Cultural Revolution. Both disastrous.
6. Lenin ordered the execution of the Royal family during the Russian civil war. Depressing stuff. Sad to read. Click here for the wiki article.
A disclaimer here. I ain’t calling for anyone’s execution. But it is distressing how labour laws are flouted so readily. It is disastrous in the long run for the health of a country if it’s most employable sector is flouting the law to survive.
I’m guessing we’ll probably see more brazen extortion tactics in the years. Let’s see.