Blue Collar Working.

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Prime Minister
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Blue Collar Working.

Post by ohsocynical »

This is a letter I had published in our local paper around ten years ago after the Mayor had a piece published in the local paper about new timelines for sickness.

We are all aware of the pressure on councils to save money and be more productive and I am aware that words can be printed out of context and points of view left out completely. However, once again the men and women working in landscape at Bracknell have been [whether inadvertently or not] defamed.

In an article targeting them for having unnecessary days off and too much illness, Cllor Alan Browne mentions cash incentives to come to work, and quoted, ‘it might stop those people who spend the night watching the Rugby World Cup or whatever it happens to be, from not coming in the next day.’
If true as reported, such a suggestion is insulting and is a silly, generalized statement that trivializes the lifestyle and work ethic of many of the ground staff.
In every walk of life there are those who take advantage, but there is a clear distinction between genuine illness and slacking off. If there is slacking off, then I suggest the Cllr turns his eyes to management or rather lack of it.

At the moment it's twelve days sick leave before being taken before personnel, questioned despite doctors records and warnings given. Six days beggars belief.
Does Cllr Browne know about working outside year after year in all weathers? Has he experienced mowing, digging, and strimming among other tasks, and in the course of that work getting splattered with dogs mess and having to clear condoms and drug paraphernalia, all for a low wage and little praise?
How does even one day doing a job like that while suffering from a chest infection sound?
Those same ground workers make it possible to win awards for this town. Never mind all the grandiose schemes dreamt up in a warm office. When it’s pouring down with rain guess who’s out there turning those plans into reality?

In the ground workers defence, Vincent Paliczka quite rightly pointed out that working indoors at a desk while you are ill, is easier than working out in all weathers and that an unfair, five pound a day fine is already levied on the ground staff for every day off.
However, nothing was said about most if not all of the white collar workers being on flexi time making it far easier to adjust their working week around illness, and they also have, I believe, a shorter working week than the ground staff.
How many are aware that many of the men and women already take a day from their entitled holidays rather than have a day off sick.
A breakdown of time off for colds, flu type illness, serious illness, and work related i.e. industrial injury absences would have been helpful.

In achieving the lower figures, no mention was made that serious illness is a real threat to losing their job and the reality of being ‘released’ due to too much time off, which is in their contracts, is vigorously held over their heads. Or that management often insists on a doctor’s certificate immediately.
In a further attempt at lowering the figures can we hear what the council’s position is on unavoidable flu and stomach bug outbreaks?
Do they have plans for discussing with doctors the latest practice of insisting we ring at eight thirty in the morning for an appointment on the same day, when landscape’s working day begins at 7 am. Even better, how about a list of all the ailments that added together only need six days a year to recover from and having it published. Oh - and some form of oath taking ceremony where the prisoner - sorry - worker - can state that he really was ill and didn’t do it on purpose despite the poor wages and working conditions.
We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. – Aesop
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