The problem of labour

July 15, 2022 by Lucian Mogosanu

I'm well aware that this is a mere rehash of some prophet's point made two decades ago or so, but regardless, it doesn't hurt to reiterate through the matter. If nothing else, this will serve (as all my other ramblings do, as a matter of fact) as a reference point for yet another "I told you so".

There's always a whole lot of talk about the "work market" in the Romanian news, so let's use the most recent example as a starting point:

De ce lumea nu prea dă năvală pe piaţa muncii: oamenii nu prea mai vor să lucreze pe bani puţini sau la gri, la negru sau sub alte forme, iar aşteptările salariale au crescut la 3.000 de lei net salariul minim în zona rurală şi urbanul mic, 4.000 de lei net în oraşele mijlocii şi 5.000 de lei net în oraşele mari

Cătălin Mahu, proprietarul lanţului La Mama, spune că ar vrea să se mai extindă, dar nu are oameni. "Lumea vine, consumă, lucrurile merg bine din punct de vedere al vânzărilor, dar cheltuielile din spate sunt mult mai mari -- utilităţile au crescut enorm, materia primă la fel, mâncarea la bază s-a scumpit. Există încasări, dar aceste costuri suplimentare se vor vedea în profit. Ne uităm pentru extindere, dar am amânat dezvoltarea pentru că nu găsim forţă de muncă",


În SUA, care se îndreaptă cu paşi repezi către o recesiune economică, din cauza exploziei inflaţiei, creşterii dobânzilor, scăderii puterii de cumpărare, războiului din Ucraina, cu toate consecinţele lui, companiile, deşi încep să fie afectate, nu prea dau oameni afară de frică să nu rămână fără ei de tot, aşa cum s-a întâmplat în cei doi ani de Covid.

Suntem într-o criză economică, scade puterea de cumpărare, dar piaţa forţei de muncă pare să nu fie afectată, cel puţin până acum.

And so on and so forth. In translation:

Why folks don't rush towards the work market: people no longer want to work for small earnings or go on the gray, black or alternative markets, while the compensation expectations have risen to $600 net minimum wage in rural areas and small towns, $800 net in mid-sized towns and $1000 net in big towns.1

Cătălin Mahu, the owner of the food chain La Mama2, says that he'd like to grow, but he's out of people. "Folks are coming, they're consuming, things are going well sales-wise, but the expenses behind the scenes are a lot bigger -- utility prices have grown enormously, raw materials as well, the base costs of food have grown3. There's revenue to be had, but these additional costs will be reflected in profits. We're looking to grow, but we've postponed development because there's no workforce to be found",


In the US, which are headed rapidly towards an economic recession due to the explosion of inflation, the rise in interest rates, the fall of purchasing power, the war in Ukraine, with all its consequences4, companies, while slowly getting hit by this, don't really fire people out of fear of losing them for good, like they did during the two years of covid.

We are in an economic crisis, the purchasing power is falling, but the labour market seems to be unaffected, at least thus far.

... or something like that. Anyway, it so happens that some six months ago I did some research on my own and indeed, there's folks out there looking for qualified labour, including but not limited to: drivers, CNC programmers, bricklayers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers and in general, people who know a trade and who haven't yet left the country.

Speaking of which, let's do a short intermission! Remember back in full covid, when the country's first and foremost meat trafficker was opening airport travel especially for folks heading down to Germany for work? How the fuck did that work, do you care to explain? covid the Great was busy roaming parks and other open spaces that were all shut down, while folks crammed up in airports didn't get any, 'cause big bad virus was avoiding them? or what? Logic, motherfucker, can you still use it?

Anyways, I ordered a coffee today and I noticed that the delivery boy was a Paki. And being that it's so hot outside nowadays, I humanized him, which probably seemed natural in his culture, although this habit is mostly unheard of in this part of town5. And this might come as a surprise, only last week one of the busboys at some restaurant down in the park was a Viet; while the week before I was served, I shit thee not, by an Indian!

Which brings us to the moral of this whole story: why does HoReCa suddenly whine about the lack of workforce, when in fact the East is full of folks eager to come down to Bucharest to work? Moreover, how's that any different from that fucker Farage's whining about "Romanian crime" down in ye olde Anglo Kingdom, when they've as well got Romanians, Bulgarians and Poles cleaning their streets and washing their elders' asses, while the locals all sit on their butts, like in that sad Gervais TV show?

And not only they're eager to work: they're eager to work harder and longer shifts, they're willing to live their life in much shittier conditions than your average Bucharestian fuck and, more generally, they're willing to give up a lot for the promise of a more civilized life. Only they're not going to find any of that fabled civilization; instead, they'll find themselves without their IDs6, earning a shitty wage that keeps them going until... I don't know until what, or when.

I'm afraid that this is then the image of the future "labourer": an individual that, if lucky, is entirely owned, which is precisely the opposite of what his "social contract" promised him. And I do sincerely hope that our labourer finds good owners, what can I say.

  1. Where "big town" means in practice Bucharest or Cluj. No third option, really, although maybe Oradea comes close, and well! that one's better connected to Budapest than Bucharest, go figure. 

  2. I used to eat there once a few months a decade ago or so, meanwhile it's suffered more or less the same degradation as other eateries downtown. 

  3. Now... where exactly did I hear that before? 

  4. Epic keks! what else can I say. 

  5. Or, as they say around these parts: "Berceni: ori îți place, ori te temi". 

  6. I just heard about this today, the naïve that I am, but seriously -- it's common practice, and in civilized countries, no less! 

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2 Responses to “The problem of labour”

  1. [...] cannot continue under its current form mainly because it no longer functions properly as a labour market. In other words, there are scarcely any competent people left to keep the thing going, and even the [...]

  2. [...] when Romanians were searching for work all over Greece, in the '90s and early 2000s, back before labour migration started coming into fashion; or maybe it's just that we have so many words in common, quite a lot [...]

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