Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/303/13775
"Who Can Blame Them?"
Mark, from north London sent us this article after looking at the Socialist Party's website.
"I GO on your website a lot while I am at work. I wish there was more of it.
I've actually joined the union now, the TGWU. I got on fine here until last week when I noticed some tension with my boss. I'd left your website on my computer, which didn't go down well when she discovered it.
I don't think a worker can ever be too secure in a job. There is always a conflict of interest between bosses sand employees. That's why all employees should always stick together. We don't own the company.
I read through the TGWU rights of workers. After 12 months employment you can sue an employer for unfair dismissal. So after 11 months an employer can unfairly dismiss you. This is what has happened here. If someone's face doesn't fit you're sacked.
In January a guy was sacked with no written or verbal warnings. The reason was: "He was hopeless and annoying". He'd been working there for six months. What does he put on his CV? He was sacked on a whim - how does that affect his life?
Our company employs 800 very low-paid, mainly Portuguese manual workers. They speak no English.
The operations managers in charge of them abuse them and treat them like crap. They earn £4.50 an hour. My managing director (MD) has told me he's terrified of unions - imagine if that workforce got unionised.
So far only two of us have joined the TGWU and we work in the head office. I've not mentioned anything to my boss but if ever any threat is held over me I'll tell them we've got over a million members and 30,000 officials. The company's not as big as that.
I'll say: "See you in the tribunal - you get your lawyers, I've got mine."
Recently the MD was talking to us about a company that sacked all its workers in England, moved to India and then took on new employees at a quarter of the price. He said: "Who can blame them?" This became a catch phrase in our office.
A couple of weeks ago we were called into a meeting to hear about the shock resignation of one of the maintenance staff. He was in charge of eight people who no-one had ever seen. Turns out none of those people actually existed but he picked up their wages anyway.
The directors and the managers said this was a scandal. But my colleague told me how much this employee actually earned - less than £1,000 a month. He has a wife and kids and sometimes worked until 9pm.
So I say to our MD and all the other generous employers out there. If you make someone work from 6am until 9pm and pay them less than £1,000 a month and then find out they are ripping you off. When you call meetings to say how appalling this is, all I can say to you is: "Who can blame them?" and good luck to them.
Keep up the good work. The socialist ideas cut through all the crap of the media and the gutter press."
What's it like at your workplace? Send your comments or write to the socialist at PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In The Socialist 7 June 2003: