January 31, 2013

I get this call everyday...

Rebel Youth

David S. Gallant is a young worker who would rather be designing video games than working in a call centre.

Who can blame him? How many times are young people of our generation told we can grow up and be the dream we want to be -- only to find out we will be facing lower rates of pay than our parents, most often in jobs without unions, and a shredded public network of social programmes.

Instead of doing his dream in the creative arts, David found work at the Canada Revenue Agency.

Call centre work, as anyone who has worked there knows, is alienating and exploiting work.  And for literally hundreds of thousands of young people in Canada, especially in the East Coast, its how we pay our bills.

...Cue the audio book of the Communist Manifesto saying that "the modern working class developed — a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increases capital. These labourers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market."

David thought he found a way of pushing back, perhaps a bit in the style of the lone wolf, and made this video (above) to promote the game he titled... I Get This Call Every Day.

The tax man didn't seem to appreciate it. Now he's been fired from Revenue Canada.

"They terminated my employment as of Jan. 29," David told CBC news, who described the game as a scenario where users listen to calls from customers and are given options for how they can respond to the inquiries -- like "I'm not your buddy, sir" to rile up callers.

A statement the government issued stated that "The minister has asked the CRA to investigate urgently to ensure no confidential taxpayer information was compromised."

"I felt the need to express myself, and despite the fact that I could've lost my job for it, I still wanted to ensure that I got my art out there and I made it available to people," David also told CBC.

Maybe someone should make a meme: irony and sarcasm disqualify you from employment? Tell me more about your Robot Army of Wage Slaves...

At first glance it may seem like David is just mocking ordinary callers who dial into Revenue Canada, and of course he is. But really he is mocking the whole set-up of call centres.  He is mocking the powerlessness of call centre workers.  He is mocking the experience of being a cog in the wheel.

And frankly we all know that if David phoned his boss and asked for a pay raise or basic dignity at work, he would be, so to speak, 'hung up on.'

CBC also reports that "Gallant has received a slew of tweets of encouragement and says he almost doubled his daily rate of sales on Tuesday to about $500."

Is anyone surprised?

Solidarity with you, David Gallant, and all call centre workers. David should get his job back right away.

David should also have the right to contribute to society and do work that has genuine meaning. That would require a different social order than capitalism, however, where the bosses were out and the people run the show. But that's our socialist perspective, here at Rebel Youth. Maybe you agree.

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