I am not at work today, I had planned to go on a photographic expedition to Bodmin, but the weather is pretty m’eh so decided not to go, instead I had a lazy morning and ambled down stairs and do some ‘Channel Surfing’ and came across ‘Undercover Boss USA’ – a series where a Boss goes undercover and experiences life at the ‘coal face’ to see what life is like outside the Corporate Bubble – todays installment was Popeye’s. Watching the moving stories and the people, mainly Black Americans and ex-homeless people, I actually wanted to work for Popeye’s. One got my attention was the enthusiasm of the staff, ok I know that the camera was on them and they were specially selected. It occurred to me a major part of the worlds economic problems could be solved not by the Bankers, but by the Workers – but then again I am a Socialist, so I would say that wouldn’t I!
Employment is a contractual obligation, rather like prostitution in most cases, I work the company gives me money, if I am really good at my job they will give me more money until they have no use for me. I see a different paradigm, I see a better way, and it was articulated in the programme. Firstly the previous paragraph is important and needs little, if any modification, though I want to eliminate the term ‘prostitution’ from it. It works like this:
- The employer provides a safe environment, it has corporate policies on bullying, it promotes team work, and it operates in an environment of respect – which has to be mutual.
- Individual Managers see their staff as an asset, and invests training and assists where practicable in helping employees through difficult circumstances.
- The State legislates for maximum number of hours for an employee to work (to ensure work/life balance and peak performance – you thought I was going to leave all the benefits on the employee didn’t you?) and that the workplace is a safe place to work, within the bounds of common sense.
- The State creates a system where disputes can be mediated, and that employers cannot do things like sack for the sheer hell of it, they have to provide a valid reason – the employee has after all invested time in the company and has probably moved location to work for them.
- The employee responds to this positive behaviour by giving 100%, by attending work, by promoting an excellent employer and working to save the company money and boost the economy in the process.
On the whole this is the situation we have in the United Kingdom, without the negative effect of the recession and with the above in force employees will give good service. When I worked for South West Trains all the above criteria were broadly met (and more) and to be honest there were days when I walked in the office and thought “OMG, and I get paid to do this as well!” It was a company that respected its employees and to honest it was difficult for an employee not to want to go ‘the extra mile’. I would happily do a couple of hours of extra work, go in on a Saturday, stay behind when the ‘brown stuff hit the whirly thing‘ and had an immense pride in working for them.
Not only was there was immense pride with working for them, there was a wealth of ongoing experience that was just growing each year, and when people retired new people could learn from the ‘hive mind’ at Waterloo. To me it was a ‘win-win’ scenario.
The only reason I left was that you were waiting ‘to fill Dead Men’s shoes‘ for the next promotion – staff turnover was unbelievably low. All I will say is that where I am working now the staff turnover is ludicrously high – nuff said.
The Government’s solution to the supply side of the economy is to reduce the role of the State in ensuring Workers Rights. It wants to enfeeble Health and Safety Legislation and it wants to introduce ‘dismiss without reason’ for employers; the latter will be basically a ‘Bullies Charter’ in that if anyone ‘makes waves’ they will be sacked. This will lead inevitably lead to negativity in the workplace, it is a race to the bottom. It is what the UK is really good at since 1945, a false economy that does not invest in the future, but tries to struggle with the present. It is not only a false economy it is also ideological thuggery, with little to do with the economy.
Let us invest in a company’s greatest asset, its people, the people who produce goods to export and to pay taxes; let us not go down the path creating a rancid plutocracy where the coporate Fat Cats dine on the misery of its employees – let us cooperate; unfortunately ths Government is ‘old school’.
The Conservatives are still reeling at the moment from the Andrew Mitchell ‘Plebgate’ fiasco, and the reason is not what Mitchell said, or didn’t say, it is the appearance – based in fact – of Government that is hellbent on recreating the working practices of Dickensian Era, we already have the highest number of food kitchens, people living on Benefit and the number of scandals and cock-ups per week of any Government. The proposed revisions of Employment Law is edging it way to recreating the ‘Poor Laws‘. The fundamental arrogance of this Government is summed up succinctly by two Tories – Theresa May, the current Home Secretary, and Nadine Dorries MP for Mid-Bedfordshire.
When Theresa May was Conservative Party Chairman in 2002 she addressed the Tory Party Conference and said, in her ‘Nasty Party’ speech:
Politicians are seen as untrustworthy and hypocritical. We talk a different language. We live in a different world. We seem to be scoring points, playing games and seeking personal advantage – while home-owners struggle to make ends meet and schoolchildren see years of hard work undermined by the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen.
The full text of the speech is worth a read, and is sadly more true today – with Chancellors trying to ‘blag ‘First Class Train Tickets, swearing at Police with impunity, with Rib-Eye Steak costing £2.70 in the Commons Restaurant (a full article is ~ here) – which is less than a slice of cake at Starbucks, and now refusing to reveal more expenses scandals of MP’s renting houses to MP’s and other ‘dodges’. The Government is no longer ‘of the people’.
The second quote is from Nadine Dorries, this year:
Unfortunately, I think that not only are Cameron and Osborne two posh boys who don’t know the price of milk, but they are two arrogant posh boys who show no remorse, no contrition, and no passion to want to understand the lives of others – and that is their real crime.
Doesn’t that really sum up the past few weeks, this Government and it’s core attitudes – I think it does.