Thursday 18 June 2009

there is no future in England's dreaming....

I'm madly busy at work at the moment. As well as all the normal cobblers I have to deal with, I've been travelling around the country and doing things like work-shadowing, interviewing and holding workshops. I've been to all kinds of fascinating places like Stevenage, Harlow, Hitchin, East Midlands Airport and Birmingham. I was in London yesterday and I'm in Edinburgh on Monday. Whilst I suppose it's good to get away from my desk, I haven't picked up my voicemails in a week and my email inbox long ago crossed the size limit threshold. Every outgoing email I send is now accompanied by some dire warning about how I really need to get my act together. Before I go to Glastonbury on Wednesday morning, there are documents to be written, estimates to be chased and management summaries to be delivered.

The idea that I might love all of this stuff to perhaps think about working longer hours for less money, or even working for free seems absolutely laughable. I realise that times are hard, but how on earth can a well-established company like BA really consider that a reasonable request to make? The Chief Exec is setting the example, I see, by giving up a month's salary. £61k, apparently. With a salary like that, I'm guessing he can afford it more than most. How about he and his fellow board members work for nothing and we use their salaries to prop up the company, not just those of the workers at the bottom of the pile? What a terrible pressure to put on your staff, many of whom have already been threatened with compulsory redundancies. Work for free, they're essentially saying, and you might have a job in the future. Refuse to work for free and you may well find yourself without a job at all. Presumably there's a very real chance that you could work for free and still find yourself without a job if things don't improve. If the people in my office got offered that kind of a deal, how many people do you think wouldn't be spending that time they're working for no money to actively use company resources to look for a job that actually did pay them some money? I know I would be. Can you imagine if your boss sat you down for a performance review and span you all the usual old bollocks about consistency forum scores and capability indexes and your performance against a few arbitrary targets before scoring you as "approaching expectations"? If you weren't being paid, why would anyone put up with that kind of crap? How would they expect you to score them in the Great Place To Work Survey? What kind of Legendary Customer Care would you be providing? What kind of feedback would the Staff Forum be collecting to present to the curious and apparently very-interested-in-what-we-think Executive?

That said, I suppose I give my company hefty chunks of my life for free now: I only get paid for 37.5 hours work a week, and yet I regularly turn in 50 hour plus weeks and work 12 hour days. Maybe that's not so different? Why do I do it? Good question. I don't think it's for love of my job. I think it's because I'm driven to want to do as good a job as I can. I haven't made as much of my career as I might have, for lots of reasons, but I do try, and I do hold out the possibility that one day it might all come to glorious fruition. It's frustrating as hell, but it's challenging and it pays me relatively well (albeit not as much as I believe I'm worth). If I wasn't being paid at all though, what's my motivation to bother putting in a full day, nevermind any of that extra time? None. No future. Dead man walking.

In an environment where several of my friends have now been made redundant over the last few months, I know that I'm lucky to have a job at all. I'm not feeling so lucky that I would work for nothing though. No chance.

Work? Proper bobbins.

Incidentally, it's a bit of a negative spiral this, isn't it? BA get into trouble because not enough people are flying with them, but who wants to book a flight with an airline that isn't paying it's staff and looks like it's on the verge of going out of business? Not me. I think I'd rather fly with those bastards who would charge you for breathing if they thought they could get away with it. It's not a happy place to be, is it? If, by some miracle, BA do manage to turn it all around, do you think that they'll show the appropriate levels of gratitude to the poor bloody infantry who saw them through by working for free? Not bloody likely. That's not really how capitalism works, is it?

Do you think they're still paying expenses? I'd love to see what their executives are claiming as they ask their staff to take pay cuts...... I bet they've all got immaculate moats, and even in the grips of an economic crisis, I imagine their ducks are well housed.


Perhaps we should have a fund-raiser for them? Get the BBC to dump Pudsey and the needy children and do it for British businesses going down the toilet? Shall we write a strongly worded letter to the Jon Gaunt outlining our thoughts?

Are you with me?


  1. I work for free all the time, but then I'm self-employed. There's no big corporate parasite eating my created value. Which makes it a WHOLE lot better, of course.

    *goes through park bins for snack*

  2. Yes, many times yes. I was virtually throwing things at the TV last week when scummy BA boss was lauding his gesture of working a month for free. Like it makes diddly difference to his life. Proportions be damned: him losing a month is as nothing compared to the impact that month has on most employees.

    Whilst I don't put in the sort of hours you do ST, over the years I have definitely done so (sometimes adding in more than an extra two days of hours at home and through lost breaks etc). And even now am regularly in some time between 7.45am and 8.30. I'm getting better at being rigorous about lunchbreaks tho and about leaving moderately on time (I often didn't leave til around 6-7pm). But the work is still pretty endless and I'm getting increasingly irate about how much time it can take.

    I know I sneak the occasional blog/read/comment. But it certainly doesn't add up to the number of smoking breaks some take.

    And yes: work is proper bobbins. I wouldn't work for free - though having done short term contract jobs putting in around 70-80 hours a week in the past for around the minimum wage I sometimes think I have done...