Sunday, 23 August 2015

Rage, rage...

In today's Sunday Herald this is a story that made me angry.  Very angry.  It seems that call-centre workers  who deal with applications for Universal Credit and who have to call unsuccessful applicants to inform them of this are being given guidance on how to deal with people who threaten self-harm or suicide.  The guidance includes a pink laminated card to be waved above ones head when dealing with a suicidal person, like some grotesque game-show.  It includes questions to be asked, such as how the person intends to self-harm or commit suicide and when they intend to do it.  To what end?  So that the call-centre employee, who is not a doctor, a nurse, a psychologist, can make an assessment of the degree of risk.

The very fact of this guidance being issues demonstrates that the government are well aware of the consequences of their all-out war on benefits claimants.  They are applying a sticking plaster to the gaping wounds so that, if questioned later, they can claim they did all in their power, but unfortunately person X took their own life.  So sad.  We will of course, offer counselling to the call-taker.  Well here's an idea.  How about not applying sanctions to people, often for the most bizarre of reasons?

This week also saw a report on the working conditions at Amazon, where staff are managed by fear.  Fear of losing their job.  Staff are constantly ranked on their performance, with those in the lowest ranks 'let go' on a regular basis.  Where staff are encouraged to 'inform' on their colleagues.  Where a medical condition or even having a family are simply things that get in the way of profits.  Had to go to hospital?  Didn't answer an e-mail sent at 1am?  Clearly you're not trying hard enough and deserve to be 'let go'.

What do these things have in common?  A very obvious disconnect between those at the top of the tree and those beneath.  I myself work for a large multi-national company, and the disconnect between the management layer and those actually doing the work is very evident.  Edicts are issued from on high that bear no resemblance to the day-to-day reality of doing the job the customers actually want and pay highly for.  There is constant talk of redundancies, almost always tpo be taken from the layers of those doing the actual work and not those supposedly in charge.  They are insulated from the realities by using weasel words - 'sanctions', 'right-sizing', 'efficiencies'.  Employees are not 'people' they are 'human resources'.  Running out of human resources?  Just send to the Job Centre for another batch.  As long as the bonuses keep coming in and the shareholders are happy, minions are unimportant.

How did we come to this, an uncaring, selfish society?  It's easy to say 'because the Tories are in power', but that ducks the real issue.  People voted for this.  Other people did not bother to vote against it.

Last year Scotland had a political awakening.  More people than ever became interested in politics, became politically active, joined a party.  We even have a new left-wing alliance being formed, RISE, which will be launched in Glasgow next Saturday.

The rest of the UK is now also beginning to wake up - just witness the rising popularity of Jeremy Corbyn and the utter hysteria and panic evident in the Labour party management layer.

People are beginning to realise that they are not powerless, that things don't have to be this way.  Let's be angry, and channel that anger into change.

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