All posts tagged 'Work'

If you don’t get paid to work it’s charity or slavery

by The Codgers' Club Friday, March 9 2012

by Peter Cook

The defining principle of work is that you get paid for it. If you don’t, it’s either charity, self-sacrifice or slavery.

All these schemes to “break the cycle of unemployment” by getting people to carry out unpaid work like stacking shelves, are meaningless, if that essential ingredient of a wage is not included.

What do politicians think unemployed people do all day? Lounge around in bed watching the Jeremy Kyle Show?

Most people want to work. But the reason they want to work is that it gives them the independence, self respect and freedom of choice that goes with earning a living wage.

When I had my business I reluctantly took on a work experience lad from a local school for a fortnight.

This lad was brilliant. When he’d done the things I asked him he found other tasks for himself. I would have taken him on permanently if that had been possible.

At the end of his fortnight I handed over an envelope with a couple of banknotes in it. “Oh no,” he said. “We’re not allowed to accept money.”

“Listen,” I said. “If you don’t get paid, you haven’t had work experience. Getting paid is the whole point of it. If people don’t get paid, how can they live? How can they pay their rent, their mortgages, their food bills, their travel expenses, or stand a round down the pub?”

If you don’t have a decent wage at the end of the month, then you rely on others for the necessities of life. That might be the state, your family or your friends. It’s not a healthy way to be. You lose self respect and it saps your self confidence.

I’ve had a job of sorts since I was 10. It started with a butcher’s round – 8s. 6d. for a hard Saturday afternoon’s work. Then, in addition, I got a morning paper round. In the school holidays I did farm work and at weekends I milked cows.

So what do I want a medal? No. I got my reward. It was cash which enabled me to do all sorts of other things I would otherwise not be able to afford.

Only once did I get a handout from the state. It was after I had left school and been fired from my first job for complete and total incompetence. A nice lady asked me if I minded factory work. I was glad of anything.

She then reached into a drawer and found 16s., which she gave me to tide me over. I went up the pub and blew the lot.

I then spent six months doing the mind numbingly tedious job of keeping peas cascading through a hopper into a water flow, so they could be floated off to the canning factory.

On occasions the boredom of this was relieved by being allowed to pour baked beans through an electric mincing machine so they could be used for baby foods. I could get overtime by sitting by a conveyor belt and picking out bad peas as a river of green went unremittingly by. But at least I was being paid at the end of each week.

I would hate to be applying for jobs now. In my day you just wrote a letter, they interviewed you, and you were either chosen or not. Bosses relied on their judgement.

The last time I applied for a job, the process of filling in an endless and pointless on-line application form sent me almost catatonic with fatigue and boredom.

But I have wandered off the point. The only real way to break the cycle of unemployment is to create jobs. It shouldn’t be hard. There’s plenty needs doing.

When people have jobs they contribute to the economy, rather than becoming a drain on it. That way we can get growth and start to reduce the deficit.

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Categories: Work

Workplace woes - from wealthy to 'wrinkly'

by The Business Blog, with Trevor Sturgess Wednesday, January 12 2011

Heroine and villain.

The contrast in the news coverage of Miriam O’Reilly, the ex-BBC presenter axed allegedly on age grounds, and Bob Diamond, the fabulously wealthy Barclays boss, could hardly be more stark.

Backing for Miriam was of course a good way of getting at the BBC, never much liked by other media. But the welcome verdict underlines the perception, maybe even the reality, that Auntie has dumped women – and men - of a certain age far too quickly.

Moira Stuart and Arlene Philips top the list. There was no good reason to get rid of any of them. They were doing a perfectly good job and with an ageing population, many viewers relate to them. Closer to home, BBC South East axed popular presenters Beverley Thompson and Geoff Clark and replaced them with the younger pairing of Rob Smith and Polly Evans.

The Beeb always denied accusations that the decision was made on age grounds, but the suspicion remains that wrinklies are not welcome on the box. Yet ITV Meridian is happy to keep lovable Fred Dinenage.

Esther Rantzen struggled to get a word in edgeways in a Newsnight debate last night (11), perhaps illustrating further subliminal prejudice. Yet, she was the ideal person to speak for the older person. Dame Joan Bakewell would have been another.

Youth is not everything but media businesses are desperate to pander to an audience that watches less television than most. It’s high time that a few grey hairs were not a quick route to the television graveyard.

As for Bob Diamond, he did banking no favours during his MP grilling yesterday (11), reinforcing the image of a select clique of greedy vastly over-paid bankers. “Shameless” was one stark - and pretty accurate - headline.

I know investment specialists are a minority who create wealth for the bank and nation, but their bonus levels tarnish their colleagues in humble branch operations. They can never live down their apparent culpability in the global financial crisis and, especially in bailed-out banks, should expect little if any bonus.

Diamond no doubt gets fed up being asked to apologise and thank the taxpayer, but like other senior bankers he has done nothing to show he is in touch with other folk who are lucky to get a Marks & Spencer voucher. Let alone a £5 million cheque. Many only receive a P45 and all are squeezed by higher taxes and food inflation.

Diamond exists in a culture where vast sums of money are the norm.

If only the bankers would show they “got it,” slashed bonus levels for a year or two, just to show they are in the real world, they would earn more respect from a wider population who now despise their apparent greed in a time of austerity. 

But every time they defend the bonus culture, they shoot themselves in the foot. They are a PR disaster that tarnishes an otherwise decent profession. Bank managers and counter staff across Kent must be fuming.

Banks and the BBC are in the firing line because they have not squared reality with perception. They may feel hard done by, but they need to recognise that perception is often more important than reality.

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Categories: Economy | Work

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