Dignity for the Working Person

Even where abuse is common place and chaos and mismanagement make pride in accomplishment difficult, workers still find ways to create meaning in work and to work with dignity. Human dignity is necessary for a fully realized life. One might ask, but what is dignity? (Hodson 19) There are two different meanings to the idea of dignity, the first is that people have a certain inherent dignity as a consequence of being human, like a dying persons dignity may be reduced if their physical being is prolonged unnecessarily (Meyer and Parent 11).

The second is that people earn dignity through their actions like the human dignity of a worker can be violated by mismanagement or dignity can be attained through noble action or enduring great suffering like valiant soldiers, moral leaders, victims of injustice and enduring workers (Castel 135). To defends ones dignity means to insist on being treated with respect, (Freeman and Rogers 1). A dying person may refuse life support or the worker may curse the abusive boss and walk off the job.

Resisting abuse is an act by taking back ones dignity, (Vredenburgh and Brender 1337). The worker who works effectively inspite of all the obstacles achieves dignity through work. Working with dignity are ones inherent human rights and are worthy of respect by oneself and others (Hodson 20). In this next paragraph it will reflect the challenges of working with dignity and the joy that can be found when these challenges are met. At Electrical Components Limited, the assembly work is hard and unrelenting, giving rise to chronic overwork and exhaustion (Cavendish 1).

At Electrical Components Limited which is in a foreign country the workforce is made up of mostly female workers on assembly lines that produce small electrical components. The work is physically challenging, the stress is considerable, there is no freedom of movement, no taking of short breaks or even a walk around. These stresses are increased by the workers need to keep up with completed task on a fast paced assembly line so that work does not pile up in front of her, (Cavandish 32).

The speed of the line is constantly being pushed to the limits with increasing speed pushing the rejection rate up, but the company will toletrate this because it was cheaper to have rejects and two women to fix them than to have a slower line… especially since the exhausting effect of the fast line would make their numbers go up, (Cavendish 111). In this setting the machine breakdowns on the line are a blessing for the women who are switched to packing or other lighter duties.

After packing all day, many women have aching arms and legs but they were able to move around more and haven’t had to face eight hours of automated pressure to keep up a steady pace (Cavendish 39). The unpleasant work on the line is rigidly controlled by the time clock. There is only one clock for fifty women to clock in and clock out at exactly 4:15 or their pay will be docked (Cavendish 88). The supervisors post a supervisor at the clock to keep the women working until the last minute. Pregnant women were allowed to stand at the front so all the women would say they were all pregnant (Cavendish 89).

The senior worker pays no attention to the concerns of the other workers on the line and upholds rules or breaks them in a self-serving fashion in order to reduce her work load because she has a second job as a janitor at a shopping mall and never chips in with the other workers by contributing for cakes or treats (Cavendish 26). Her inconsiderate actions are a threat to the other women on the assembly line because of the chronic pressures and overwork, these women are just trying to survive through solidarity and mutual support by shifting work to each other.

The quality of work is tested by having two strong-willed workers sit opposite each other, one to check the electrical circuits and one to check the mechanical part. Faulty devices supposed to be pulled and checked by the checker with a circuit tester, but that is not done and it is put in the box and the problem is not fixed. These two women talk all day about their personal lives even though they despise each other (Cavendish 36). In this working situation there is no co-worker support, no resisting management emands, no improving output, no making life at work more bearable. Overwork has reduced work like to a dog-eat-dog shared fundamental traits. Bad supervisor practices are driven to maximize production at all cost (Cavendish 82). At Electrical Components Limited, chronic pressure and overwork significantly undercut both good supervisory behavior and supportive co-worker relations. How do workers respond to excessive and repetitive work that leaves them exhausted at the end of the day?

The development of the assembly line at Ford Motors quickly led to the birth of the United Auto Workers as workers organized to seek alleviation from the distress and unrelenting strictness of the assembly line through collective bargaining action (Brecher 1). But for the many employees like the women of Electrical Components Limited, who do not have the benefit of a union, and even for many of those who do, the most common reaction may be it is their unavoidable fate. In many assembly jobs, workers are expected to have a closed mind when they enter the factory gate.