back to article Tech’s big lie: Relations between capital and labor don't matter

At a riotous final concert at San Francisco’s Winterland auditorium, The Sex Pistols’ frontman Johnny Rotten notoriously trolled the crowd with a final line, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” as the band walked offstage after a fifteen-minute set. That phrase came to mind when stories surfaced last month in Pro …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Company's are run for short term profit...

    ... by psychopaths at the helm, only interested in how much they can steal from a company for themselves before they leave and repeat elsewhere.

    They will mercilessly cut cost, by firing experienced people, and replace with cheap offshore idiots. They will plunder pension funds, cut the headcount and take short term gain over long term investment.

    When these parasite outsource firms can replace whole functions like support and development within weeks (even if they are shit quality replacements), since they are cheaper, it will keep happening.

    Quality, experience, knowledge and a long term strategy (beyond just cutting cost) counts for nothing in modern business. It's all about the 1% getting paid.

    The only solutions are:

    - be the psychopath

    - be an outsourcer

    - keep your skills relevant and in demand, and hope to dodge the bullet

    - don't get into an IT job in the first place

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Company's are run for short term profit...

      That is the problem today (and for the last 30 years or so). In the past, there was some pretense of making it look like the survival of the company was important. If you invested, you looked to see how they were planning to deal with the future, to ensure your investment was secure.

      With the advent of day trading, it is now no longer important if the company is still there in 10 or 20 years, as long as it will make enough good press to make a profit on selling the shares again in the next 10 hours (or mere milliseconds in many cases), nothing else matters.

      Gone are the days of a company's reputation due to high quality, long lasting products. You used to buy a device and it would last "a lifetime", if it really did, you'd still be recommending people to buy products from the company in 10 or 20 years. Now, those products are built down to a price and designed not to last more than a couple of years, to ensure revenue growth. A good reputation and long term survivability are not sexy, short term profit is... :-(

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the "only solution" you forgot

    - unionise and get paid a fair wage via collective bargaining

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the "only solution" you forgot

      I've had one job with union representation. That was the shortest job I ever had, they laid off 250 workers, with the union's help... And first in, first out.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: the "only solution" you forgot

        If it were LIFO you'd have the same problem as described in the article. So... the union did help, didn't it?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: the "only solution" you forgot

          Sorry, yes, LIFO. Not enough coffee.

        2. sprograms

          Re: the "only solution" you forgot

          I don't follow these comments: FIFO would be the firing of the older staff. LIFO would mean firing those most recently hired. I thought the article was about firing the more senior employess.

    2. Velv Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: the "only solution" you forgot

      Who is stopping the works from unionising? Is it IBM, or are there other forces at work...

      When the Union of Automotive Workers tried to unionise a VW plant in Tennessee it wasn’t the company that turned it down. VW actively supported it (workers collectives are essential to their operation in Germany), gave employees a free vote, and helped promote it. The State threatened to cut tax breaks, and the federal government put pressures to prevent it. The workers were ultimately the ones that said no. What chance have services sectors got?

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/volkswagen-workers-reject-uaw-in-tenn-union-looks-for-plan-b-to-enter-south/2014/02/15/c35c018c-967c-11e3-9616-d367fa6ea99b_story.html?utm_term=.226b2f2f12ff

      1. netminder

        Re: the "only solution" you forgot

        A large part of what is stopping unions is the glibitarian techbro attitude that I am a special little snowflake and can do better on my own that we can all do together. They have been feed this lie for years & internalized it to a point that they can't see anything different.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: the "only solution" you forgot

          I am a special little snowflake and can do better on my own that we can all do together. They have been feed this lie for years & internalized it to a point that they can't see anything different.

          It's no lie, as demonstrated that I have done better then those who let someone else do the bargaining for them. I'm not special, just competent.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the "only solution" you forgot

      unionise and get paid a fair wage via collective bargaining

      Sounds good on paper, but unions these days are run just like the companies are. They ask for ridiculously greedy money for less work, while their own senior managers are living the high life paid for by the members. It only encourages the companies to hire in non-union places. I've always avoided them (except at uni, when the snooker tables & cheap beer were in the Student's Union) and my salary and promotions have been consistenly better than those of my collectively-bargained unionized colleagues.

  3. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Too expensive to fire?

    > Thirty years ago, a job at IBM meant secure employment for a lifetime at the most valuable company in the world

    That might have been the case in the 1980s. However when I joined IBM in the mid-90's they were just starting a round of lay-offs. Some from the building I was working in. I was quite astounded that a company that successful could have employees who had been there for 30++ years but who had never, ever, met a customer nor done any revenue-earning work. What was more astounding was that these early retirees in their late 50's were walking away with their very generous final salary pensions AND roughly £250,000 each (although that was taxable) redundancy pay. While they would never get another job in the tech sector, with that amount of cash they wouldn't need to. Some of those people were resentful, due to hurt pride while many others couldn't stop grinning with the "lottery win" they had just been handed. The local Mercedes dealership had a very good year, too!

    However, fashions change. Some time later I was employed by a large utility company. Their approach to redundancy was exactly the opposite. H.R. would be given a budget and a target (a simple number of "heads" or "resources" to be downsized) and left to get on with it. Being H.R. they showed neither humanity nor resourcefulness. They viewed it simply as an accounting job: the largest amount of effect for the lowest possible price. As such, all the bright, young, energetic, newbies got the chop because their redundo pay was the lowest. While the lumbering old leviathans who had been with the company for decades (and who desperately wanted early retirement) were kept on as they were too expensive to axe.

    1. smudge Silver badge

      Re: Too expensive to fire?

      However when I joined IBM in the mid-90's they were just starting a round of lay-offs.

      In the early 90s, I (non-IBM) was working on a major programme in the UK where IBM was the prime contractor. They started laying off staff - it may have been the first time that they had ever done so.

      They picked on the wrong bunch of people to lay off. It was those with 30+ years service - although in these case they were certainly customer-facing. Pretty clued-up, knowlegeable people. There was a lot of resentment amongst this group about the way that they were being treated - and of course they knew the company, they knew their rights, they knew how much money IBM could save, they knew how much money they could get out of IBM, and they knew exactly what to do. They took the company to the cleaners.

      If your colleagues in the mid-90s were in the UK, then they may well have reaped the benefits of what this earlier group achieved.

    2. niksgarage

      Re: Too expensive to fire?

      I call bullshit on that. The older ones were the ones who couldn't afford to stay - given the scale of the golden handshakes - 6 weeks for every year of service when one programme was launched in the UK in mid 90s. Plus, a big boost to their C plan pension; my manager, who had 30+ years of service, had worked on the 370/135 and a bunch of other programmes in Hursley and so on was in my office near to tears saying he couldn't afford to stay, and was really worried about what would happen to people like me.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too expensive to fire?

      "bright, young, energetic, newbies"

      Please post your contact info. I'll forward to vicinity not-so-bright, young, energetic, newbies who couldn't keep their rear ends in the seats long enough to get a day's work done, and another batch who do stay in their seats, to do their nails, write out their bills, and can only converse via text. Fair warning, they want a company award for rewriting a test plan.

  4. Bob Vistakin
    Mushroom

    Unions in which country though?

    This article swerves the obvious contradiction it throws up. When everything's been offshored, how do you unionize your new peanuts sweat shops? Could it be that's one of the cynical reasons this was done in the first place?

  5. MedievalMalta

    Underpaid overworked outsourced idiot

    Agree with everything..however... The old ones that stay in the big SW giants are snakes and would have back stabbed their way to stay. Outsourcing to idiots is a corporate decision made by money men for return...We are not all idiots but agree the level is appalling. The customers know it, we know it, the money men know it. We have no input into changing things we are just put on to do everything that higher paid insourced idiots didnt do to start with otherwise the business wouldn't have to cost cut.

    Unions can protect, but wont stop the products going out of date. They wont stop people from being lazy. They wont stop disruption.

  6. Death_Ninja

    Where did it go wrong?

    I think a combination of things conspired to create what we see today (which is what the article talks about):

    1) IT people being both part of a new industry on an upward path, being paid very good money, didn't see that unionised labour was needed. They were the rich, the untouchable and unions were kinda seen after the 1980's as protectors of legacy and dying industries. Coupled with UK law attempting to blot out union power, why would you join a union?

    2) Moving 30 years forward, the IT bubble has definitely burst. Sure, every business needs IT but the massive deployment of IT is over. Its run and maintain by and large. The days of endless new leaps forward in tech are done, dusted and gone. Unless we see something new and big... I think it will be new but not big.

    3) Combining #2 with the crash in 2008 (which technically we haven't actually recovered from), we now live in a world where there isn't real growth anywhere. Big business (IT and others) moved to cost reduction as their only vehicle for growth. Its false growth of course, particularly in the case of IBM et all because the only true value they have are their technical skills in deploying complex IT solutions for customers. The axe swings not to remove excess wastage but actually to remove vital organs. The CEO gets paid huge rewards for his/her carnage and the impact won't be felt in the limited number of years of their employment. Sadly, their replacement won't have another game plan and just looks to cut even harder.

    This possibly isn't felt in smaller operations, but certainly the big names in IT services (IBM, HP, DXC, Accenture) are slowly spiralling into the ground.

    Maybe the future is smaller, more dynamic niche companies.

    None of this helps the generation who built what we know today - their future (my future) is outside of IT it seems. Which is a shame, as we built this digital world. I'll see you all with an orange apron at B&Q.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Where did it go wrong?

      the crash in 2008 (which technically we haven't actually recovered from)

      FTFY

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Where did it go wrong?

      "They were the rich, the untouchable and unions were kinda seen after the 1980's as protectors of legacy and dying industries. Coupled with UK law attempting to blot out union power, why would you join a union?"

      My experience of unions back then were that they were a nasty, collusive bunch pitting a smaller group, Civil Service scientists, against the larger, the general service grades. That's why I never subsequently joined a union.

    3. HmmmYes Silver badge

      Re: Where did it go wrong?

      I sort of agree and disagree.

      Lets call it IT (a term I hate).

      30 odd years ago, the one eyed man was king in IT. A well paid king. It was new, people did not understand it. Bullshitters made out like bandits.

      Today, thins have evolved. Commodity hardware has become cheap as chips - you buy but a pi zero (faster than the Vax I worked on ~27 years ago) for the cost of a round in London pub.

      However, software is very very expensive. Or rather custom software is. And, although free (linux etc) will get you so far, the last 30-50% will always be expensive.

      Businessed have gone from haviong a little bit of IT that they dont understand, to be being totally dependent on *lots* of IT whcih they dont full comprehend.

      There's no store selling computers that existed 3 years ago. Your hardware breaks - caps pot, PSU burns out, drop coffee on it, etc then all that software needs porting and testing.

      Now a wie person would target their mission critical stuff o the hardware spoofed n Vmware. But all these wise people have been laid off. Or left.

      1. 's water music Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Where did it go wrong?

        Today, thins have evolved. Commodity hardware has become cheap as chips - you buy but a pi zero (faster than the Vax I worked on ~27 years ago) for the cost of a round in London pub.

        I call bullshit until you can name a London pub where you can get a round for GBP15 or less

        1. HmmmYes Silver badge

          Re: Where did it go wrong?

          I dont have many friends ....

          Chandos, Traf Sq.

    4. alexmcm

      Re: Where did it go wrong?

      Have you not given the answer away in your own first point?

      " IT people being both part of a new industry on an upward path, being paid very good money, didn't see that unionised labour was needed"

      Correct, we didn't need or want a Union. I started at Lotus on a very nice wage, and no union, and no wish to be in one. I knew the deal. I had a limited lifespan in the industry. I think we all knew that. Some climbed the slippery pole into upper management, but most of us were happy to earn the big money, do the work, and accept, that the time would come when some new 20 somethings would replace us.

      That just happened to be me recently, some outsourcing company has replaced me, that's fine. It was depressing doing the handover to a kid fresh out of Uni though.

      But I always new I'd done a deal with Mammon, and prepared for it. That's just how the new system works. Take the big bucks and prepare for a shorter working life.

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "This can only change if workers in the tech sector face the reality of the situation, accepting that they are just workers, and need the protections of unionisation."

    Not necessarily the only option for workers to get together.

    There are enough stories here of contracts being shifted off-shore and failing for the sort of reasons the article outlines. The staff being dumped represent the necessary skills and have the necessary contacts to form their own company to either offer remedial services back to the company that dumped them when it runs into trouble or direct to the clients.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The days of endless new leaps forward in tech are done, dusted and gone"

    This statement is demonstrably not true; cloud, AI, big data, TLA+ and all the rest of it are still happening and developing at an extraordinary rate. In many ways the endless new leaps are faster and more far-reaching than ever before. The problem is that not everyone is equipped to update and evolve their skills to match.

    For a long time IT workers arrogantly believed we were extra clever and understood clever things that would always keep us in highly paid work. This is no longer true for many of us; those who've sat on a well paid skill for too long and suddenly found it not in demand any more tend to find it harder to learn new skills and harder to convince new employers that they can do different things.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Cloud AI big data

      The difference is though is that whilst big tin on customer sites needed vast amounts of IT labour to support it, the new super high density infrastructure running in AWS (etc) doesn't.

      The future is smaller IT, albeit delivering more than before.

      A lot of the endless functions needing to be in place to stand something up are going... replaced by automated IT.

      Sure someone needs to still run that, but maybe its 5 people instead of 50.

      Smaller, more agile IT teams are the future and in that market, people think they don't need people with 30 years experience of doing things the old manual process way. In fact if you work for one of the big boys for any length of time, your major skill is in fact knowing how to work the levers in that huge megalith as much as any technical skill you have. Funnily enough, the demand for someone with extensive organisational knowledge of IBM/HP etc is fairly limited!

      In a way, the future is probably more like the early days of IT before people and bureaucracy dominated it. If someone will employ me, I'm sure I'll enjoy the cut and thrust of BS/paperless IT again... DevOps sounds to me like the days where just plugging crap in and tinkering with it until it works...

      1. HmmmYes Silver badge

        Re: Cloud AI big data

        Ive thought about.

        One, there still is a need for big tin.

        Two, the world of minicompters has been replaced - a bit - by cloudy and AWS boxes(v boxes?) which require a tenth of the people to support.

        However .... with aws clouds theres about 10,000 more servery things, requiring 100x more people, doing more complex stuff.

        People have swapped clunk computer operators with hard to fin software people.

        Oh dear.

    2. eldakka Silver badge

      > This statement is demonstrably not true; cloud, AI, big data, TLA+ and all the rest of it are still happening and developing at an extraordinary rate. In many ways the endless new leaps are faster and more far-reaching than ever before.

      Your statement is demonstrably false.

      Cloud is not new. It is a technology that has been evolving for 30+ years. It is an evolution, not a revolution. it's a fancy word for what many of us have been doing in-house (i.e. what they now market as private cloud) for decades. We have Executives seeing presentations from Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle and others on their cloud services. When we point out the security implications of using such services, we get responses like "Oh, well why don't we get one of these companies to help us set up a private cloud in-house for us" with our response usually being a rolling of the eyes along with a statement "our inhouse infrastructure already is a private cloud-like service and has been for 20 years".

      Same with AI, people have been using and working on it for decades, again it is evolving.

      Big Data - again, nothing new. Government tax offices and social security-type departments have been using big data to catch tax and social security cheats for decades. It is becoming more widespread, but again, it is evolving, not a revolution.

      NFI what TLA+ is (more Three Letter Acronyms?).

      None of the above are recent big breakthroughs. They are evolutions of what we have been doing in IT for decades. As hardware has evolved into higher performance for less cost, and COTS software is becoming available for what was custom software, the above technologies have expanded and trickled down such that more, smaller companies use the techniques that were once only available to government-level organisations due to the cost.

  9. hottuberrol

    "" While the lumbering old leviathans who had been with the company for decades (and who desperately wanted early retirement) were kept on as they were too expensive to axe.""

    Not always too expensive ! A mate of mine who was at IBM for about 20 years received tiny annual salary increases over this time; but new PM's hired off the street had to be paid bigger salaries. He's over 50, has no kids, paid off his mortgage, hated what IBM had become, and wanted to take a package when packages are being offered every week - and couldn't get one. Why? His boss flat out told him - he saves more money making redundancies to the newer, younger, more expensive guys. What surprised me most is that they were letting people go IRRESPECTIVE of the customer and revenue impact of that decision. No wonder IBM suffered 22 consecutive quarters of shrinkage... yet somehow the CEO keeps her job!

    1. ByTheSea

      "3 hrs hottuberrol...

      What surprised me most is that they were letting people go IRRESPECTIVE of the customer and revenue impact of that decision."

      Been that way from the early 90's. As a manager I was forced to let go bright, smart, hard-working young guys who were making a real contribution to the business. Why? Because they volunteered, knowing they had another job offer, and HR over-ruled my wish to retain them. Heads out the door was what mattered. In my own case I was managing an EMEA-wide critical project, recognised as an outstanding contributor, but wanted to go. No problem, I was in my 50's. Heads out the door. Never looked back.

      1. niksgarage

        I remember the day I left IBM, after 27 years. There were so many people, including three lines of management above me leaving on the same day that the security guard at the front desk in North Harbour was just surrounded by Thinkpads in bags, a desk full of company car keys and a small mountain of security badges. I couldn't find anyone to accept any of my stuff, so I just dropped my Thinkpad and badge along with everyone else's, headed for the door and didn't feel a thing; the company I was leaving was not the same one I joined in 1977. No shakes of the hand, no goodbyes, just a letter signed by the IBM Legal department saying I couldn't ever work for them again, nor could I ever discuss with anyone the terms of my separation.

        1. Tydfil

          Soulless then, even more so today. No pay rise for nearly 10 years, yet more pressure to outperform previous years performance. Ever increasing challenges and targets, whilst education has been eliminated. New products coming on stream from all directions, without a thought towards genuine skills development.

          The company is in a mess, a deeper mess than many on the outside are aware of. IBM hides all this by re-inventing not itself, but the means, language, buzz words, of their announcements. Obviously working on the principle of ‘keep dodging, ducking, and diving’ never keep still long enough for anyone to latch onto a single item of concern.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The first rounds of serious redundancy packages were funded out of IBM Corp., and there was no local guidance on who would or would not be accepted for a separation package. Later, toward the end of the 90s and into the 00s, funding for separation packages (so-called 'cost in year') had to be found in the IBM UK bottom line, and guess what? The pressure was on to make the numbers and minimise costs. The other change in 99/2000 was the development of the internal/management only ranking of employees into three sets of people. The first rank were those who IBM wanted to retain at any cost - for them, the top 10%, about 65% of the salary budget was set aside. The second rank, those whose loss would be felt were given pretty much the remainder of the salary budget. The third rank would be squeezed by giving them (as in my case) a bare minimum of increase - 2% after waiting 3 years, in the expectation they would 'Self-select' out of the organisation - resign without a separation package. This ranking of employees was not revealed to anyone but managers.

  10. c1ue

    The commentariat has so far failed to mention the well documented, top level collusion between titans of the tech industry to depress worker wages through non-compete agreements.

    Isn't this indication that the playing field is far from fair?

    Sure, there are overpaid, underdelivering people of older age - but there are also overpaid, underdelivering people of younger age as well. Those who have inside connections or play the political game will often "overperform".

    The real issue is whether labor is getting a fair shake in the overall corporate pie.

    Focusing on the absolute value received is, frankly, a fool's game because the other side doesn't play it.

    Don't get me wrong - the management is far from always predatory. I've gone unpaid for many, many months while my employees have not - in order to get my business on a proper footing.

    This doesn't occur in large enterprises though.

    1. Flashdunce

      Makes sense. Games are played and it’s hard for even smart workers to get the opportunity to see all the cards which define the size of a company’s pie, even when those workers may believe they have figured it all out for themselves. For example the manipulation of the value of shares, and thus the value of employee stock options. Many workers have bought into clever psychology and no longer think of themselves as part of a group of « workers. »

  11. pauhit

    Takes two to tango

    Its going this way in every tech related field, not just IT. As a current uni student, its amazing how eager most engi students are to go work for big name companies when it is almost assured those companies will screw them over in ten years. The situation in technology will not change until tomorrows employees change. Companies CANNOT block unionization, say what you will about US capitalism, but there are numerous employee rights rulings that allow unions, which all come to nothing if people choose not to unionize.

    1. blandersong

      Re: Takes two to tango

      Yes, it takes two, however the USA, the unions have failed their fiduciary duties with the pensions. I do not trust the management and oversight of the union leadership. Many pensions are going broke while they were under the oversight of union members on the pension board. They did crazy things like paying out a "13th" month of pay and overpaying benefits when the stock markets are high.

    2. veti Silver badge

      Re: Takes two to tango

      Students don't worry about what a company is going to do with them in ten years, because they know long before then they'll have moved on to their real dream job which is just around the corner.

      Unions are a mixed bag. In the US they've historically been a vehicle for organised crime, run on very much the same lines - and in some cases, by the same people - as the Mafia or similar groups. In the UK they grew into a political movement, which meant that their focus on "their members' interests" was diluted by all kinds of other agendas and dodgy ideology.

      As far as I understand it, the Germans and the Japanese have organised their unions rather better. Don't give them too much money, and keep them away from politics. But is it even possible to run a union on that basis in the UK or US?

  12. onefang Silver badge

    The union in Australia for computer people would never let me join so I never joined. Don't think they did a lot of good anyway.

  13. LucreLout Silver badge

    Potentially the most clueless article El Reg has ever published

    The workers affected find themselves completely unable to stop the predations of their employers because they too committed an act of willful stupidity, believing that they’d never need the protections of a union.

    You seem confused about what unions are, how they work, and what they do.

    The biggest lie the tech devil ever told was that the tech sector was somehow different from and better than the old, nasty industrial economy with its divisions between capital and labor - and its need for strong unions to hold the line against the depredation of capital.

    Do you really not see the difference?

    Lets say I work for the local steel works, port, mine, or ship yard. Its entirely possible that for my skillset my current employer is the only game in town - there's nowhere else I can work without a move to another city.

    In tech, that is not now and never will bee the case. If I go onto my current employers roof I can probably pee on more companies than I have time to work for. Yes, an individual employer may treat me badly, but I can just leave and find a better one. Which is exactly what I did when it happened.

    Tech workers believed themselves to be better - both better suited to the historical moment, and simply better people - than their industrial forebears, an act of arrogance that finally cost them everything that should have been theirs the final victory laps of their careers.

    Sorry but that is just rubbish. I'm no better or worse as a person or employee than my local butcher baker, or candlestick maker. Not only does the world view you imagine not really exist, but it hasn't done that damage you think it has.

    I'm in the right age group for ageism to hit. And it does. But that just means I get tech tested far harder than the kids. The good news is I've had more practice at that than the kids have had hot sex, so passing is rarely an issue.

    But the way capitalism works hasn’t changed much in a hundred years: people are disposable in capitalism, unless the people say otherwise.

    Not half as disposable as they are under socialism or communism! Killing fields, purges etc don't happen in capitalism: they're bad for business.

    accepting that they are just workers, and need the protections of unionisation.

    Yes, we are just workers, and no, we don't need a union - just like the great majority of the worlds work force.

    In the end, both sides will benefit. But never, ever forget that there are two sides - or where your loyalties lie.

    And here we get to the root of the problem, which neatly explains your half baked world view.

    My current employer and I come together for a period of time - maybe a few years, maybe a lot of years, to achieve mutally beneficial goals. When either of us decides those goals are sufficiently met that the relationship need not continue, then it doesn't.

    It's not me vs my employer, its me & my current employer vs the competition, for now. Collaboration trumps adversarialism every time.

    I'm in my mid 40s and have already amassed enough wealth that I could feasibly never work again (changes to private pension retirement age aside). There isn't a single unionised industry or employer where I could have achieved that. Maybe if I'd been a doctor, sure, but I didn't get the grades for medical school, and anyway tech has served me very well.

    Capitalism isn't perfect, but it is understandable, workable, and potentially beneficial for all participants rather than just the handful in the union.

    The reason capital trumps labour is simply that labour is so easy to find in most of the world - almost anyone can provide some form of labour, and much labour can be automated if the need arises, but not everyone can provide large quanities of capital that make many industries work. I can't, for instance, afford my own steelworks. I can afford my own software company if the need arises, or simply find any one of the millions plus employers I passed on my way into work.

    1. Tydfil

      Re: Potentially the most clueless article El Reg has ever published

      Words/counter arguments that sound very much like a manager attempting to defend the actions of IBM higher management. If you’ve accumulated sufficient ‘wealth’ that you can retire in your mid 40’s, definitely not someone at the ‘sharp end’

  14. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    A Solution

    Companies that do not value grey hairs are run by idiots. Whether the grey hair has been a 'lifer' with the company or a recent hire, they do bring to the table experience and knowledge as well as technical skills. Depending on the needs, the requisite skills can be learned by a new employee but experience and knowledge can not be learned very fast. Hiring only PFY sounds good but their lack of experience and knowledge means they will make the same mistakes the grey hairs made before. Having to grey hairs around to mentor (even informally) them means they will make these mistakes again and again.

  15. pardo_bsso

    What about tech coops?

    At least here in Argentina tech cooperatives are a very nice alternative to traditional employment and growing really fast.

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