There are many galling aspects of the Murphy Group’s plan to staff their music festival food concession with unpaid labour, but here are the three most egregious:
First, by securing the concession by bidding low on the contract (what with having no wage costs and all), the company acted in an anti-competitive fashion, leaving more public-spirited businesses that actually put value on workers out of the running.
Second, the company insults the thousands of volunteers doing actual volunteer work every day across PEI by using the word volunteer to describe unpaid workers: volunteering isn’t about “doing work without getting paid,” it’s about contributing to the community in a meaningful way. It is a matter of the heart, not of the pocketbook.
Finally — and this galls me the most — businesses often do stupid, ugly or disingenuous things based on the notion that they are, at least, creating “jobs and opportunities for islanders.” And more often than not we citizens blindly look the other way: it’s hard to argue with putting food on the table of our friends and neighbours. By removing the pesky obligation of wage costs and other annoyances of being an employer from the equation the Murphy Group is simply engaging in a bald-faced money-grab, and is revelaing, perhaps, that they view their of actual employees is as a inconvenient but (sometimes) necessary obligation on their road to self-aggrandizement.
They should do the right thing, pay employees a fare wage, and apologize for this bungle.