Monday, June 28, 2004

"Speak English or die"

That's essentially what one Auckland employer is telling his employees - and he's threatening them with dismissal if they don't stop speaking "Indian", even in their lunch break.

NZPundit and the propertarian absolutists would no doubt approve, but the rest of us should be asking ourselves exactly how much we are selling when we go out to work each day. Selling our labour - physical, emotional or intellectual - is one thing. But how much more is an employer entitled to? Can they demand crawling obeisance as well as basic civility? Thinking only "good thoughts" about them, and an end even to private and unspoken cynicism and doubt? The supplanting of our conscience and values with theirs?

No. None of the above are consistent with human dignity, and neither are general bans on which language is spoken in the lunchroom. This isn't treating employees like human beings, it's treating them like slaves. And its clear that the only reason the ban exists is because of Massa's insecurities that people are being rude about him behind his back.

Unless there's something in the job requiring that a particular language be spoken, then this demand is an unwarranted intrusion. I hope this guy gets taken to the cleaners, as he so richly deserves.