Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Christmas with a bah humbug twist

It’s all good.

From all reports this is Siemens best year -- ever. Profits are up, expenses down, good deals were brokered, riff-raff and dead wood expunged, new geniuses hired, new systems installed to increase the flow and decrease the drag that leads to lower profits. It seems that if all you care about is profits -- Siemens is a blue ribbon winner.

Most recently Siemens, a German conglomerate active in 190 countries, picked up positive headlines for naming female winners in its latest competition in math, science and technology. The girls brought home $100,000 for their efforts.

Siemens wins Russian contract -- worth billions. Siemens sells automotive unit for $16 billion. Siemens received a light sanction from German authorities and a minuscule €201 million ($284 million) fine for alleged bribery at its telecommunications-equipment unit. A small price to pay for boosting profits.

Of course some of those employees who helped the 'company' claw its way to this pinnacle of profitability are feeling the pinch this year. I am not referring to the alleged company managers who prosecutors believe "funneled money through sham consulting contracts to bribe potential clients." No, I’m referring to the honest, law-abiding, honorable men and women who work for this company every day, trusting that the company they work for is as honorable as they are.

One of the things certain sections of the Siemens empire has cast aside is sharing the wealth with its workers. Bonuses? Ha! "They don't need no stinking bonuses!" Let me mention that these very bonuses were originally used to lure employees to work at Siemens. Merit raises that befit the hard work performed. Ha! Give em just enough to quiet any 'no raise' rumors. Of course the bonus snafu isn't without precedent. Ask Chinese workers in Beijing.

In comparison, check out the managing board's remuneration. For the managing board members a delightful formula is set in place so that none of these bad boys will go hungry.

Does Siemens value diligence, hard work, honorable responsible input? It looks doubtful. Do they value efforts and fights, fought to keep the company from adopting ideas that are illegal and would results in millions of dollars in fines? They can't seem to remember anything about that.

How about the necessary minutia that gets done without hassle? How about the well oiled machinery that keeps humming along no matter how many logs middle management throws in to disrupt that productivity?

How about something as simple as a workplace that is neither too hot nor too cold? What about keeping the cockroaches out of the bathrooms? Asking too much? Evidently.

Employees already stressed after relocating away from family and roots, stretching income to cover living expenses and that Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride called housing costs, also face higher medical expenses. Didn’t you hear? Siemens is changing the medical plan AGAIN -- it will cost the employee more money for less coverage.

But these are only human workers -- fellow humans -- who evidently don't deserve to be recognized, rewarded or even paid a competitive wage. No need to concern yourself about employees set adrift without medical benefits when the company has finished with them -- the other benefits far outshine those offered in sweatshops in Bangladesh. Oh and for new employees, don't even think about a pension plan, you can pay for that out of those bonuses they promised you as incentive to work for this company.

Yet, the steady paycheck even without job security, should count for something. Many workers seek jobs and can't find them. At least Siemens continues to provide employment. Should a worker be jerked around, promised something in the bold print, then see it rescinded in the fine print? Maybe that is the cost of having a job.

At least Henry Ford realized the need to pay his workers a good wage so that they could also be consumers and purchase the products they produced. But then Siemens products are not tailored to the average man. So who cares if employees are sharing their wealth. Oh wait, employees might be interested in the electronics, housewares, appliances, or hearing aids. Let's not get too carried away -- there are employee discounts. That should offset any bonus or raise an employee expected to use to pay the mortgage or the kid's dental costs, except it is only useful if you are buy Siemens products.

Have you heard? This is Siemens best year ever. But don't ask for details from the employees. Some of them are still trying to recover from the end of the year 'merit increase' and 'bonus' slap in the face that Siemens just delivered to them. They can't turn the other cheek -- both are pretty raw from this double whammy.

Makes me want to watch the movie (1989) Christmas Vacation starring Chevy Chase. Remember the soliloquy against his boss substituting jelly of the month club for the annual bonus of which the employees had become dependent? I wonder if this movie could be mandatory training for those profit mongering mid-managers?

Have you heard? Siemens profits are up, up, up.


Gary said...

Sadly, shabby worker-as-machinery corporate attitudes are common. The corollary? Decision-makers profit in the face of red-ink and gi-normous missteps. Example: the
Merrill-Lynch CEO who presided over a $8 billion single quarter loss
was allowed to resign with a $150 million severance package. Do you
think the bean-counters at Merrill will use the massive loss to justify cut-backs and bonus reductions? I do. Do you think that the obscene severance package might have been better spent, oh, as a shared bonus to any Merrill employee making less than $50,000 a year? Me too.

In spite of FISA, in spite of people being held without trial, in spite of incompetence that has bled our military dry and ruined our international standing, I think we are in as much danger from corporate mis-deeds and anti-social actions as we are from the Bush-Cheney regime.

~ Gary

The People History said...

When I was a young man many years ago Companies had a department called The Personel Department whose primary objective was to look after the employees needs ,

Move on to the 80s onwards the department is now called HR ( Human Resources ) and is in place for only one reason to manage companies Human Resources not to care about the needs of the staff they employ. Company attitudes to the staff they employ have changed and continues to change . In my mind NOT FOR THE BETTER