Thursday 22 August 2013

A case of profit by night?

I was recently saddened by the death of a young intern from an investment bank in the City of London. He was working extremely long hours, and very often through the night. The independent newspaper writes that this is common amongst investment banking with some people calling this slavery.

I can recall some years back a lawyer friend of mine working once very long hours and often through the night. She explained how this habit had perpetrated a type of repetitive strain injury where she was unable to use one arm and her fingers. It took many months for her to recover.

Recently a female friend of mine had returned to the office, after maternity leave. Her boss demanded that in order for her to achieve in this environment, she would have to work very long evening hours. She found this hard due to the nurturing she was required to give her little child. There was little incentive to work late what with no extra pay etc. The only thing was the fear of being fired or being asked to leave resulting in the possibility of not having a job in which case she felt she had no alternative. A situation she was certainly not happy with.

Time MCG often writes about exploitation of employees for the sake of profit to the detriment of our health and well-being. I see no sense in people nor anyone for that matter in working through the night unless under exceptional circumstances or perhaps crisis situations. It would certainly not be cool if it was for the fear of losing one’s job instilled by a kind of management by fear or through lack of resources, or by saving costs.  Such cases would have to be unacceptable and beyond reason. There is little sense too in the investment banks allowing their interns to do the same and making them believe in such greater rewards later. They too must realise that remuneration in Investment banking is enduring a time of great intense scrutiny and may change, more so after the scandals and excesses in recent years.

Perhaps I’m different nevertheless I am someone who requires a minimal amount of sleep, in order for me to function well the next day. At least 6 hours, ideally 7 even 8 work’s well. It is proven that sleep is essential for one’s memory to function well, to be at its best and for one’s talents to be used as effectively as possible the next day.  If I was to write some sort of report or synopsis, I can write these things in record time. I find myself having more in my deposit than what I am able to withdraw. Call me a stick in the mud, but even if I was invited out for the evening, I would ensure that I come back in time to get my vital hours of sleep.

In short a human being is precious in his or her own right, endowed with enormous, almost infinite potential and capacity. For this part to function properly it requires its regular down time. Perhaps we are entering an era where wisdom must be able to dictate the wider consequences of our actions. Or is it simply the opposite in that we sacrifice ourselves for the sake of our clients, personal ambition and profit?

1 comment:

  1. Hi - you should start a petition on to limit the numbers hours an employee is allowed to work consecutively. People who then work through the night could be allowed to 'refuse' and be protected from sacking by law.

    You are of course right - this sort of treatment by employers is totally unacceptable.