Productivity up, real profits up, wages not.
This article reminds me of the decline being seen in many countries, including my own. Back in the day I was required to "pre-sort" hardcopy archive material (old papers) including timesheets and pay stubs all the way back to the 1970's. Shocking how much things changed over the years. The percentage of deductions in the 1970's was so low it only took a few lines to list the items. I calculated tax for the group I was in, it was 17%. For me at the time it was over 30% and if you worked too much OT it could go over 50% for the OT (my highest was 54% last dollar earned).
Hours worked in the 1970's was 8hrs, pay was for 7.5hrs, they worked Mon-Fri, paid OT and benefits. Regular jobs, not construction or installation jobs which even back then had different hours.
Fast forward many decades, same regular job/profession. More education needed for entry (less government support for education), lower entry level wage, longer time required as Junior or Trainee, and many other changes none of which by themselves seems all that significant. Most are not noticed by today's workers who still think they have one of the best jobs going, and they do.
It's all apples and oranges when it comes to standard of living, taxes and deductions and who even cares if previous generations had higher standards of living if it means having to put up with SD TV and 1Mhz computers?
But hours worked is oranges and oranges. Still only 24hrs in a day, 8760hrs in a year, and for some in that group life expectancy is not rising.
Regular work day in that same job is now between 9 -16hrs. OT is paid but today it is increasingly expected to be worked.
We got here by companies working tirelessly generation after generation to pocket increasing profits due to increased productivity and ensuring inflation and incremental changes in the workplace was to the companies benefit. Most in the industry can't see those changes but it can be seen in the hours.
One of the last jobs I had was an example of changes that should be noticeable to most. It was 12hrs a day with a travel day it was an 8on-6off. Not a good schedule for families but great for me at the time. Only one shift off a year but it could increase to three and I was told I could work OT time for straight time off to have more than one shift off a year.
Until I showed up for work. Turned out there was no OT for straight time off, if you wanted to do that it was under the table and only if you could pay others to cover your time and get the boss to agree. Mine wouldn't.
12hrs was actually 13hrs as lunch wasn't paid. I paid extra for my travel and accommodation (10% of pay) but that saved me more than 2hrs a day in commuting time. Co-workers had 14 to 15hr days, 12hr paid, so my 13hrs, 12hr paid didn't seem too bad. Being on call was expected but didn't happen too often. Our work was often critical so we never took lunch or break if it interfered with the job being done. Not at all unusual to work 12hrs straight, grab a snack when you can and use a washroom when you got the chance.
Then I found out that OT was not optional. That isn't legal in that jurisdiction but if you had a problem you could always try suing after you were dismissed. Of course you will not be able to use a local labour lawyer as every law firm in town was under retainer by companies. There are some freelance lawyers you could use but they would be from even farther away and had long waiting lists. I know some who started the process, I have not heard of any completing it.
Then the company added 1hr to every ones work day, unpaid. For me that meant a 13hr day just grew to 14hr. For some it meant +16hr days, no OT. Lots of workers started to grumble. In my shop I was the loudest. Almost every point I had raised in the interviews, during negotiations and got in writing had been changed to my disadvantage and now the day was to be 14hr worked 12hr paid?
The rest of the shop asked me to not press the issue. They were fine with more work or less pay or both. Did the fact that 75% were not born in this country, that most did not have full qualifications for the positions they held impact their decision to accept the added unpaid hours? Who knows?
I left to have a life. The last I heard that shop had grown. Now it is staffed with even more immigrants and the company has an even worst reputation but then so does much of that industry.
People are staying in school longer, working for less pay, working longer hours, working schedules that benefit companies not families, but if you complain there is always someone else who will do the job, even if the company has to scour the world to find them. If only workers could organize, oh wait, there are laws to ensure that doesn't happen. Union membership, once common, is now as rare an 8hr work day with 7.5hrs paid or enforced labour laws.