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Opinion

Workers aren’t responsible for your profits

Workers are too often tasked with bearing the burden of generating profit for their employer.

Workers are too often tasked with bearing the burden of generating profit for their employer.

For example, I know of one restaurant in Lethbridge that recently limited its operating hours because it wasn’t making enough money during certain hours. This, of course, reduces the total number of shift hours available to workers. This same company insists that their workers end their shift on time, that no matter how busy the restaurant is, they must plan in advance to cover all their tasks to close out their shift on time. All in an effort to curb paying out too much to workers.

Likewise, I’m aware of a local clothing store that recently consolidated their locations into a single storefront. This, of course, resulted in some job losses. Prior to the consolidation, the store—like the restaurant above—reduced their operating hours. And now, I’ve heard, this clothing store is shutting down their last retail location.

Here’s the thing though.

When businesses such as clothing stores, and restaurants, and bars, and hotels reduce shifts, or close locations, or lay off workers because profits are down, business owners are shifting responsibility of profit-making onto the worker, even though these workers rarely affect profit.

If you’re paying your line cooks $15 an hour, you’re paying them that amount whether they’re frying 1 burger or 100 burgers an hour. If you’re paying your bartender $15 an hour, you’re paying them that amount whether they’re pouring 1 drink or 100 drinks an hour. If you’re paying your store clerk $15 an hour, you’re paying them that amount whether they’re ringing through 1 shirt or 100 shirts an hour.

But how many burgers they fry or drinks they pour or shirts they sell isn’t really up to them. It’s your job to create business, to bring in customers. Your workers are more than happy to work hard to make sure lots of customers get the service they need. They likely don’t want to stand around with nothing to do either.

And when—instead of focusing on increasing revenue—you focus on reducing your expenses by reducing salaries through cutting hours and locations, then you’re shifting the burden of profit making onto your workers instead of yourself, the owner. You’re seeing wages as the issue rather than lack of customers. And that’s unfair.

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By Kim Siever

I live in Lethbridge with my spouse and 5 of our 6 children. I’m a writer, focusing on political news, social issues, and the occasional poem. My politics are radically left. I recently finished writing a book debunking several capitalism myths. My newest book writing project is on the labour history of Lethbridge.

I’m also dichotomally Mormon. And I’m a functional vegetarian: I have a blog post about that somewhere around here. My pronouns are he/him, and I’m queer.

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