Friday, April 7, 2017

The Worker's Brexit

I have been kind of ignoring the Brexit thing. It’s like ignoring the rain, it’s unpleasant, it’s everywhere but somehow you just have to get through it and carry on.


Apart from the free migration of people, passports, currency, agricultural policy, defence, etc etc a big worry is the affect it is going to have on the working conditions of the lower paid, who do tend to be the more vulnerable groups in society.

The EU did implement the working time directive which states that you can’t work more than 48 hours a week on average – based over a period of 17 weeks, with further provisos to  protect the under 18’s from exploitation.

You can opt out of  it of course, just sign away your rights if you want to work more, or if the yearly average is under 48 hours, but any 17 week period can't be over. … Like a patient   who organises stage show costumes for London West End productions. She works like crazy, 18 hour days constantly for about 5 months, and then the minute the curtain comes down on the dress rehearsal, she curls into a ball and goes into chocolate and prosecco hibernation for a month, vowing never to do it again.

 Then signing up to do it all again.

And there are always get out clauses. The option usually is ‘have an hours break for lunch and not get paid for it. Or have your egg and cress sarnie at your desk and do get paid for it.’   I’ve never had an employee choose the former.  We do actually let them away for nibbles but it can take a wee while to unchain them from the wall.
There are exceptions to the working hours directive; Where 24-hour staffing is required, army, emergency services, police, security and surveillance (hugely open to abuse here!), as a seafarer, sea-fisherman or a worker on vessels on inland waterways, where working time is not measured and you’re in control, e.g. you’re a managing executive with control over your decisions (that will be me then! Hence my 70 hour week last week. It is possible, I counted.)

Doctors are covered under part one. It’s still possible in the NHS to see junior doctors propped up against the wall, trying to stay awake. And the NHS doesn’t have enough UK trained UK resident doctors to run the NHS. Hence, its reliance on medical staff from the Middle East (many who have had their education here as fee paying students.)  Our universities are free but only because a % of the class is ‘foreign’ and they have to pay. Which means there are less places available for home students and less British trained British doctors which means we have to get them from abroad …. And the EU in particular but we can’t do that now, can we?

The whole situation is a mess.

There has been some political talk of simply going through the EU legislation and plucking out the goods bits, keeping them and throwing the bits about how bendy bananas should be away. (I know that’s bit is not true but it is quoted so often it’ have moved into common parlance! See link at the end for clarification about the complex EU banana regulations). All these laws would then be under the umbrella of the ‘EU Law Good Bits ‘which all sounds very sensible except that it is unlawful.

Another exception to the working hours directive is ‘as a domestic servant in a private household.’

I saw reported today that there is a film about on you tube, posted on the 4th of April. It has, hopefully, gone viral all round the world.  A woman (later detained by the Kuwait police) filmed her Ethiopian maid screaming for help before falling from a window. The maid is on the outside, there is a six or seven story drop to the street below and the maid is holding on by her fingertips.

And the woman films it.

Films it.

It’s little comfort to know that the maid fell onto an awning and her injuries were not fatal.

The maid is screaming for help. The woman doing the filming – thought to be her employer – is heard to say something like ‘Come in crazy.’ The filmer then calmly films the drop, catching the maid’s descent onto the awning, with no reaction what so ever.

The filmer claims her maid had a last minute change of heart during a suicide attempt. So maybe she should have been better grabbing her by the wrist and trying to pull her back in.

Or is that just me?

I’ve been an employer for over thirty years. One simple rule, not laid down by EU legislation. You get further with sugar than with vinegar. Letting your employer fall from a seven floor window means you must be in possession of the darkest of black heart. 

With every privilege comes responsibility.

Caro Ramsay 07 04 2017

1 comment:

  1. Back in my days as an associate in a Wall Street Law Firm, we could have used those rules. On weekdays, 10AM starting time, 2AM quiting; on weekends only worked until 11 PM. I don't think much has changed. As for the hanging from the building example, the partner for whom you worked would not be filming, just demanding that you finished your work before letting go.

    Our world's values are a bit out of whack, with the whackos calling the shots.