Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Work the unpaid hour. Pay the unworked hour.

Five million workers do unpaid overtime.

Scenes that you seldom see. Imagine a workplace where you routinely go home earlier and still grab full pay for it. Over 8 hours a week of unworked pay. You may even take it all at once and make it into an extra day off.

Now wouldn't that be handy. And wouldn't it make your gaffers go spaz. They'd call it theft, wouldn't they?

Now back to reality. According to the TUC, almost 5 million people work the equivalent of a day a week of unpaid overtime.

The story goes that if each employee worked all their unpaid overtime at the start of the year, they would not get paid until 24 February. The poll only covers staff covered by a trade union. Those who work the highest number of unpaid hours wouldn't even appear on any polls because they have no union cover. The crappier and more unprotected the job, the more there's a tendency to expect unpaid overtime.

This is big news, you'd expect it to take up a fair amount of press coverage. Especially from those tabloids (guess which ones) that are so adamant when it comes to denouncing the "scrounging culture" that allegedly plagues this Land-of-gargantuan-£40-a-week-benefits. Or the "high tax system".

Instead, the "Work Your Proper Hour" campaign is nothing but a mere footnote in these days' papers. The reason is the old, usual, one. Ignorance is bliss; if people don't know about it they won't complain. Cry wolf about the scroungers instead and that'll get people barking. The writer Nick Cohen calls it the manipulation of fears. And isn't he right.

In the meantime, listen to one of those deprived managers who can't afford to buy a new purse when the old one bursts at the seams. Alan Addis, managing director of Verdict Aerospace Components, claims that a bit of unpaid overtime is essential for companies such as his to compete in the global market.

"We need the support of the employee to not put their palm out for every penny for every moment they work," he told the BBC. Yeah, it starts like that and it ends like Wal-Mart in the US. So how about going back to where we started?

Try the other way round, Alan Addis, 8 hours unworked pay every week. Don't put the palm out and watch the clock for every moment they (don't) work. Granted, that'll do wonders for morale, loyalty and- would you believe it- productivity.


Anonymous said...

I work for this berk. We do put our hand out for every hour worked because we know what he is like. People might do him a favour once and then they learn their lesson. He doesn't get another chance. He may be a millionaire but what he doesn't realise is he could be a multi millionaire if he didn't try and stiff his work force on a regular basis.

Anonymous said...

I worked for this twat for many years. At one time, early on in my career, becuse he would not allow me over-time I would work on for free, he then complained and insulted me about my presence in the building to my foreman, once aware I was doing it for free, he commended me, just not to my face. He is a two face biggot who knows nothing about staff loyalty. If he did the best guys who worked for him would still be there. This man is creaming it and yet pleads poverty, It costs as much to keep his boat in Poole as I got in wages each year, I wonder who pays for that?????