01-asleep-on-the-job

Bob Lethaby is at a loss working out what makes up a honest day’s graft.

I have been working as a project coordinator couple of days a week on a contract in Oxfordshire that, if I am honest, doesn’t actually involve doing much for the money I am being paid. As a consequence, my gratitude for the cash is occasionally (but not often) laced with guilt that comes courtesy of the end client not getting value for money.
This project is a somewhat strange situation for me because I have not worked in the environment of a large organisation since I left the Civil Service to pursue genuine work in the spring of 1988. As a consequence I am at loss to what constitutes an honest and productive days’ work, I honestly don’t know.
Working set contracted hours with a lunch break is totally alien to me but it is apparent that when I look around the building here, there are a plethora of people trying to look important but apparently not doing anything creative. How on earth does a large organisation budget for the hours they pay people when there is no apparent productivity taking place?
Anyone with experience of self-employment will tell you that you learn to be creative with your day to increase family and leisure time, it is one of the few benefits that offsets, certainly in my case, the issue of never being able to have time off in July or August and only having short holidays where an hour of emails and phone messages still have to be dealt with every morning.
One of my friends is a very talented computer programmer/designer currently working on a project for a large charity. At the beginning of the project he informed the client that he could, without too much problem, complete what he regarded as a simplistic project on his own for a fixed fee. This was rejected out of hand by people who, justifying their existence, proposed that it would need six people from agencies who could be provided the lowest rate.
Of course the project cost has fizzed past the fixed price quotation and numerous people from the agency have come and gone. Some programmers have not been qualified at all, with others showing up on a working visa from the Far East not even knowing what the contract involves. It is even suggested that the people who have been interviewed on the phone aren’t even the same people who are turning up on the project.
Staff within that organisation have been paid money (that donators think goes to starving children) for creating that mess and the company has become nothing but a charity for the people who are employed there. Perhaps employing unqualified people from Asia is all part of being charitable? You could argue that it is I suppose.
I know that went off on a bit of a tangent but what I am getting at is that up and down the country there are tens of thousands of people at work but not actually working. What’s even worse, the only time they are busy is when they are trying to justify their position by creating internal mayhem as suggested above. Not only are they unproductive, they are a financial accident waiting to happen.
This project I am working on involves the simple digging of a trench to provide power to and from server racks, chillers and UPS (uninterrupted power supply) systems that serve the computer room. The guy who purchased the chillers, server rack and UPS equipment has done so for no other reason than to make up his end of year government budget.
It is a system that has enough power to cope with a building 100 times as big, a nonsensical waste of money running in to hundreds of thousands of pounds. If that sounds madness, check this out…They are moving out of the building next year, so, unless the company who are moving in to the premises are considering sending a manned spaceship to Saturn, no-one will benefit from this apart the equipment manufacturers and people like me.
Of course this guy has to justify this ludicrous act of job creation by looking important. The other day, when I asked for a ‘Permit to work’ for a welder he threw a total fit and shouted out “THIS IS A BLOODY SHAMBLES” and walked out asking why this poor lad hadn’t asked for it in advance.
The truth is that a “permit to work” is a process that takes a few minutes to agree but by making it look like a contractual catastrophe, the guy had let everyone know, rather loudly, how critical he was to the project. That was his personal justification done for the day, he could now go back to Candy Crush saga.
As far as I can see, he gets paid a salary and a pension, plus untold holiday and sick leave as a reward for blowing a few hundred grand of Government money as a way of safe guarding his 2014 budget that will allow him to piss more cash up the wall. Not bad work if you can get it, I’m only jealous.
When I read it that way, I feel less guilty about charging them for my role that involves ensuring that people wear their hard hats and aiding a ground worker who is trying to keep his shovel out of striking distance of a live cable with enough energy to send him into orbit. In theory, I should be grateful for his ineptitude as, after all, it earns me enough money to get stuff done around the house and book a trip to Jersey…..I’ve just had a light bulb moment!!!
Get the Government to employ hundreds of not very bright people, chuck loads of money at them and get them to waste it on unnecessary equipment and sub-contractors like me.
The manufacturers of the equipment then have to employ more staff to satisfy demand and the people like me spend their money on iPads, white goods, holidays and leisure, thus creating more jobs for these industries, in turn, creating a domino effect boom.
Hey presto, no more recession and all thanks to Government waste!
Can I get a job as an MP?
Check out more of Bob’s writing here – http://www.boblethaby.co.uk/