The Socialist 14 February 2018 |
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I'm now a 'manager' and I can barely manage!
Adam Viteos, South West Socialist Party
I work in a well-known high street chain and I was promoted a little while ago and thought to myself "finally, things might get a bit easier!" How foolish I was!
First of all, although I've been given a pay rise from £7.55 to £7.85 an hour and more contracted hours my pay has gone down!
The reason for this: while I was previously on a four-hour contract, any hours I worked after that would be at an overtime rate of an extra 12.5%.
Therefore, if I worked 24 hours, as I often would as a sales assistant, I would earn approximately £200 a week.
Now, because I'm contracted at 24 hours, I earn £188 a week at my new rate. But because I'm now more expensive to employ for overtime - only marginally I'll add - I rarely get more than my contracted hours outside of peak periods as a supervisor. This means I'm regularly earning less than the staff I manage!
To compound the issues, as part of the "management team" I'm now expected to take on lots more responsibility with no monetary compensation.
If somebody sets our store alarm off while the shop is closed I have to attend - without payment. If there is work to be done and not enough hours to give to the staff, the "management team" is expected to pick up the shortfall, working extra hours without pay.
I have to constantly pay attention to my store's WhatsApp group, even when I'm off or on holiday, in case I miss an important development.
I'm also expected to do electronic learning to stay on top of product knowledge, which there often isn't time to do at work, so - yep, you guessed it - I have to do that in my own time as well.
All this for nothing more than the 'prestige' of calling myself a manager as well as an effective pay cut!
As a means of striking back I've used my new "authority" to encourage my staff to unionise. It's been a huge success, with 50% of my staff now in Usdaw, the retail and distribution union.
However, upper management have gotten wind of my unionisation drive. I'm now on a final warning for everyday errors.
Other members of management also make these errors, yet I have been the only one disciplined to this extent.
I feel like I am being witch-hunted by the rest of management. And yet my staff hugely appreciate me for encouraging them to take breaks which, by law, they're entitled to; encouraging them to demand to do training during working hours; and trying to maintain their conditions.
It's going to take a little time, but I am confident that my staff will soon have the confidence to start demanding more than their current awful conditions.
Through collective organisation we can fight for better conditions and it's not as if my company is short of a few bob.
Over the busy Christmas periods our store can often make more in a day than I would make in a year - and yet the super-exploitation continues. Just like the rest of the Socialist Party, I'll continue to fight for:
- A £10-an-hour minimum wage now without exemptions
- An end to zero and low-hour contracts
- Decent breaks - expecting workers to work six hours straight without a rest or at least a food break is not good enough!
- The right to unionise without persecution