Who’s right and who’s wrong?

It’s amazing how dirty the word “socialism” has become. My dictionary defines it as “the belief that the state should own industries on behalf of the people and that everyone should be equal”. But here’s Digby Jones, Director General of the Confederation of British Industry, commenting today on a leaked European Commission draft proposal to extend temporary workers’ rights:

The flexibility of the labour market…could be under serious threat from this. It’s depressing that Europe decides it’s going to try and bring everyone down to some sort of low common denominator…It’s socialism coming straight out of Brussels,” he said. (For more see Bosses warn against rights for temps.)

Which part of the definition do you think he means? Since the EC proposal does not promote state ownership, he must be referring to the part about equality. The EC is for it; he’s against it.

And yet this month’s edition of the Harvard Business Review contains an article (see They’re Not Employees, They’re People) by the dean of all business gurus, Peter Drucker, which is summarised as follows:

In this essay, business thinker Peter Drucker examines the changing dynamics of the workforce ? in particular, the need for organizations to take just as much care and responsibility when managing temporary and contract workers as they do with their traditional employees.

Those seem like opposite points of view to me. So who’s right? Common sense tells me Drucker. So what’s wrong with Digby Jones? He clearly has not read his copy of HBR!