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Being in a Union
Fri 11-Jun-10
8:38 pm
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Shereen
Near Belfast, Northen Ireland

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My union are going to be ballotting me in the next week or so about strike action.http://www.cwu.org/bt-pay-campaign-2010.html

 

By posting that link I've outed myself as an employee of BT, a company so many people express hatred for that I tend to step around mentioning them as my employer. I think it's a hatred that could make it difficult for the Union to get support for its members.

I know this won't mean much to many of you reading this, but I'm voting yes to a strike. It's something I'd far, far rather not have to go through, but it feels like the Company's going back on what they said to us last year. And we agreed to no payrise last year based on what they said then. I've already seen my take home pay devalued with the cost of living increases. It's a bit scary to contemplate what it would be like if it went on for another year. Especially when you consider how much G and I have done to curb our spending.

Add into the mix company profits meaning some executives getting payrises of over 60 and 70 percent this year, bonuses of over a million, the thousands redeployed last year (including me), the many people who left the company (a fifth of the workforce) creating increased work for the remaining and, the cherry on the cake, the 'hole' in the pension fund which started when the company decided at the height of the dot com bubble to take a payment holiday from the fund as investments were doing so well.

And then the company started quoting external benchmarking sources saying this year's 2% offer is fair. What they completely failed to mention is that looking at the very same source for the year before shows an average of 3%. Only my union accepted 0% based on the financial performance of the company because they believed it was for the good of the company.I've always said if you don't try to change the things that are wrong, you've no right to complain about them. It's time for me to put my money where my mouth is.

 

*sigh*

Fri 11-Jun-10
10:30 pm
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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Oh, crikey, Shereen.

First of all, as an online mail order seller, I have to say that I think the Royal Mail gives a fantastic service. The postal workers that I know are helpful, friendly and almost inevitably cheerful. I count them amongst some of my best casual friends.

It is an extremely reliable service in the main, given that no service is 100% perfect. I believe that UK postal charges are amongst the lowest in Europe. If that is genuinely the case, then we in the UK are simply spoiled, accustomed to cheap mail costs and should afford to pay a bit more.

Having said that, there is no inflationary excuse for raising prices year on year as has happened for the past 3-4 years. And no excuse for “cheats” that Royal Mail practice, like not having a single stamp for each level of postal cost. For example, a packet that weighs between 100g and 250g costs £0.96 but the Royal Mail withdrew the £0.96 stamp at the time of the last price rise in April 2010 and only supply a £0.97 stamp. So, what does one do? Spend 45 seconds sticking on various stamps that amount to £0.96 or apply a single £0.97 stamp?

The latter of course. That is a blatant Royal Mail cheat. It makes my blood boil. Multiply that one penny difference by 1 million letters every day, or even higher margins for larger items.

I cannot comment on the internal workings of the R.M. because I have never worked there. Reputedly, machinery can increase efficiency at the cost of jobs. That is an unfortunate fact but ask Joe Public to choose between losing 10,000 jobs or paying an extra £50 per annum in cost of stamps and you will get only one answer.

Same with the pensions fiasco. My company has done something similar and we have no choice in the matter. I understand why they did it because otherwise they might go bust. I don’t like it one little bit but I understand that the old fashioned idea of a job for life or a fixed decent pension for 20 years is now down the tubes. End of. Those days will never return.

Sorry, Shereen, I totally empathise but I think you guys (like BA cabin crew) are fighting a futile fight against the inevitable. I do not blame you one bit for striking and I do not get bitter and twisted over it but I believe there can be only one winner, and one loser, sadly. Capitalism rules in our part of the globe and it could be worse.

We could have a 100% Conservative government!

PS: I am very pro-union. My dad and his colleagues were on strike for seven years. His union paid them full wages for the entire duration. My dad died before the strike was settled but I have total admiration for his union. It almost bust the union but they did it. Top marks.

But nowadays unions must temper demands with economic realities. Compromise is essential.

Never knowingly underfed

Sat 12-Jun-10
4:10 pm
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Toffeeapple
North Bucks

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What a horrid situation to find yourself in Shereen. Big_Hug I haven't had anything to do with BT for several years now and I know a lot of people who no longer have them provide telephone services.

I'll try that again!

Sat 12-Jun-10
6:21 pm
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JoannaS
Latvia

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Quite agree with putting your money where your mouth is Shereen and sorry Danny I have to disagree with you on this one, I think people can win just not all the time. There are some economic realities and the world, well the western world, has got to stop living beyond its means but in some ways that means breaking the power of the large companies and demanding fair treatment of workers. I could contemplate a reduction in wage or a stagnating wage if I thought the powers at the top were sharing the pain but when they obviously aren't and neither are the shareholders then I do believe it is time to take action. All the best Shereen. Big_Hug

Sat 12-Jun-10
7:01 pm
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Shereen
Near Belfast, Northen Ireland

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Cheers for the support folks xx

I know it might be a futile fight, but I'll sleep better at night knowing at least I tried.

Like you say JoannaS - it's ok if things are fairly done and everyone's sharing the financial pain, llike last year. But that's not happening.

Tue 15-Jun-10
8:06 am
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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Maybe I missed out on the support, element in my post, Shereen. And I do agree with you, Joanna, these kind of things cannot pass without protest and pushing back in some form or other.

So good luck, Shereen. It is not a pleasant thing to have to do but it is necessary (and also expensive for you) especially with the shameful bonuses that are now the norm in the top management layer of large organisations. I have no problem with big salaries for big responsibility but bloated bonuses make us all sick.

It's just that I believe unions must find a more effective approach than (or alongside) withdrawal of labour. You deserve a better service for your union dues.

Never knowingly underfed

Tue 15-Jun-10
8:48 am
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ep
Bulgaria

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JoannaS said:

Quite agree with putting your money where your mouth is Shereen and sorry Danny I have to disagree with you on this one, I think people can win just not all the time. There are some economic realities and the world, well the western world, has got to stop living beyond its means but in some ways that means breaking the power of the large companies and demanding fair treatment of workers. I could contemplate a reduction in wage or a stagnating wage if I thought the powers at the top were sharing the pain but when they obviously aren't and neither are the shareholders then I do believe it is time to take action. All the best Shereen. Big_Hug


 Just a small point...I took out shares in BT many moons ago and struggled to buy them as part of Margaret Thatcher's move towards a better future for everyone.  Dividends in those days were worth having but currently the divident has decreased so even shareholders aren't getting a good deal.  Fat cats have and always will be there...or they can just afford a good accountant where as you and I get stitched every time.  Sorry  

Who lives long sees much : The diary of my life in Bulgaria

Tue 15-Jun-10
9:49 am
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JoannaS
Latvia

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Danny said:

It's just that I believe unions must find a more effective approach than (or alongside) withdrawal of labour. You deserve a better service for your union dues.


 

Very true, there is a great need for some more creative thinking that challenges the norms

Tue 15-Jun-10
9:52 am
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JoannaS
Latvia

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ep said:


Just a small point...I took out shares in BT many moons ago and struggled to buy them as part of Margaret Thatcher's move towards a better future for everyone.  Dividends in those days were worth having but currently the divident has decreased so even shareholders aren't getting a good deal.  Fat cats have and always will be there...or they can just afford a good accountant where as you and I get stitched every time.  Sorry
 


 

Arrh didn't realise that. I di know that good accountants advice is woth its weight in gold, unfortunately getting the advice is a pain in the behind. The big accounting firms hand the little accounts to juniors and the little accountants don't understand anything beyond the norm Steam

Tue 15-Jun-10
10:20 pm
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Shereen
Near Belfast, Northen Ireland

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Danny - you didn't miss the support element, so don't worry about that. And I do appreciate the opportunity to talk about it here as it helps me sort things out in my head.

Yesterday I had to go to a company briefing on the dispute. There they told us that:

  • 5% was simply unrealistic this year (when senior managers are getting 6% and up, plus huge million pound bonuses),
  • UK pay settlements are averaging 1 to 1.9% going on external data. Examples quoted included Virgin Media, Rolls Royce and Royal Mail (all companies which made a sizeable loss, unlike BT; and the data they refer to would have meant 3% payr ise last year rather than 0%),
  • the offer is pitched at a level to help the company pay an additional £500 million into the pension fund this year and an increased offer would have a serious impact on the pension fund. (the pension fund that is in trouble because of the long payment holidays the company took when the Dot Com bubble was sky high)
    Needless to say the bits in brackets are mine. I'm still trying to work out all the information from yesterday, but my hopes of a good old chat about the whole thing didn't materialise.

 

Do you ever have days where you don't like being a grown-up?

Tue 15-Jun-10
10:28 pm
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brightspark
Wilts

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Shereen said:

Do you ever have days where you don't like being a grown-up?


 

Oh yes  !!!!!!

Eeek

"Work for a cause, not for applause
Live life to express, not to impress
Don't strive to make your presence noticed
Just make your absence felt"
Tue 15-Jun-10
10:39 pm
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Toffeeapple
North Bucks

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Yes, every time I have to make a decision i.e every day.

I'll try that again!

Tue 15-Jun-10
11:06 pm
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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Shereen said:

Do you ever have days where you don't like being a grown-up?


 

Just like BS said - Yes, and all too often.

And not because i am an imbecile or a simpleton - none of us on this forum are.

We admire / envy / are inspired by - those who have pushed for, and managed to, escape to some great spot where they are living the dream.

Shereen, I believe that the sentiment you expressed above is nothing more than a sense of having lost control of one's life and destiny (i.e having to do a non-satisisfying  job just to earn a crust and pay the rent. That is where I am at.)

Our dream is to stay exactly where we are because we love living here, not be forced to move elsewhere, and to enable F to do what she now realises is what she adores doing: gardening, tending, garden design etc.

Not a big ask, but an ask in terms of income to enable it to happen (just as with Joanna and others) - being courageous and bold is a huge first step but one simply has to be able to buy the daily bread (and meat and whisky!).

We are not there yet by a long shot, but we have the burning desire.

A burning desire is the first step to success - ask any of the "success mentality" gurus. It is very true.

Maybe you and G have a longing to return to NZ to live? Or some other burning desire that can help propel you guys to a better place in terms of freedom?

Sorry - I am on my personal hobby horse by now. Time to turn in (maybe) !!

Never knowingly underfed

Tue 15-Jun-10
11:32 pm
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brightspark
Wilts

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Very good post, Danny, and in most of these things, I agree with you.

Although dreams change as do our own lives. Hubby had a few good years earning some extra (nowhere near what we hear about from big businesses now), but we squirrelled them away for that rainy day. Almost on a whim, we came to France all those years ago one Saturday, and on the Monday we saw this house, and by Wednesday evening we were driving back to the UK, having bought a house in France.

We have never regretted it, but we don't live here - that was our original plan, to retire here. Then we became grandparents, and so our 'dream' changed - we couldn't leave our beloved family.

As it happens, we probably couldn't afford this house now. Not only have house prices gone up, but we have changed the place, improving all the time. We feel we are currently caretakers, looking after this wonderful old house for the next generations.

The thing about dreams is that you'll know when the time comes what is the right thing to do - sometimes the grass appears greener, but keep a steady head, and even if it doesn't work out, you'll know it wasn't for not trying. Keep within the limits you set yourself, and don't beat yourself about if it doesn't work out.

The other thing is that life happens wherever you are. It may be a dream location, or a dream country, but life still has to be lived, and there are still taxes to pay, and shopping to do, and other hurdles to jump.

Unfortunately too many of us are doing or have done just what you said "having to do a non-satisfying job just to earn a crust and pay the rent", it's called life.

Seize the day, enjoy the life you have, and try not to worry too much. Give somebody a big smile - they'll probably smile back, and it will make your day!

Love to everyone. Big_Hug  Big_Hug

"Work for a cause, not for applause
Live life to express, not to impress
Don't strive to make your presence noticed
Just make your absence felt"
Tue 15-Jun-10
11:46 pm
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brightspark
Wilts

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Oooh, look we're all on the same thread! Big_Hug

"Work for a cause, not for applause
Live life to express, not to impress
Don't strive to make your presence noticed
Just make your absence felt"
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