SPECIAL SERVICE? NOT THIS TIME.

December 19, 2010

 

It’s been a strange lead-up to the Festive Period. The country ground to a halt due to weather conditions more normally experienced in Siberia, and the result was the collapse of every delivery service known to man.

I heard a perfect example of just how crazy things have become when a friend of mine went to post a parcel at the Post Office. We’ll call him Dave, because that’s his name.

 Dave: “I have a Parcel for posting.”

PO: “That’ll be £3.00.”

Dave: “Will that be delivered tomorrow?”

PO: “No. You’ll need to send it by Special Delivery if you want that.”

Dave: “How much is that, then?”

PO: “£7.00”

Dave: “OK, I’ll go for that then.”

PO: “Certainly… except, Royal Mail have retracted the next day guarantee because of the weather.”

Dave: “When will it get there then?”

PO (shrug) “A few days.”

Dave: “So, how much for that then?”

PO: “Still £7.00.”

Dave: “Eh?”

PO: “Oh, but it will still be treated as Special Delivery!”

Honestly, how nuts is that? Premium price: inferior service. What does “Special Delivery” mean in this case? Does the little parcel get to snuggle up to a radiator in the packed warehouse or something? Or when it eventually DOES get out on the road, does it get to ride up front with the driver?

However, despite the delivery fiasco, ice, snow and tumbling temperatures, I have it on very good authority that it will be yet another bumper year for the retailers. And I can assure everybody that none of this will stop Santa from making his regular rounds.

There will be smiling faces and friendships rekindled across the county – nothing can keep us down!

So, have a great Christmas as we look forward to the coming year… and a thaw.

Drew McAdam

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ATTENDEEISM – A NEW KIND OF HOLIDAY

December 11, 2010

Here’s a new word for you: “attendeeism”. Perhaps it is easiest to explain if you consider it the opposite of “absenteeism”.

Let me explain. During the recent bad weather the local authority took the decision to close the schools. That was their decision. Even if a teacher was willing and able to work, they couldn’t. They had, effectively, been laid off.

Clear? So why does Oor Cooncil then tell those on whom they padlocked the doors that they can either agree to make up the time, or treat the lost days as part of their annual leave? Seriously, that’s what they’re telling them!

So, even if a teacher trudged all the way to the school and then pounded on the locked door… tough. You lose a day’s holiday.

Does that seem reasonable or fair to you? No, nor to me either.

Even the LGE (Local Government Employers) website states that “By closing an office or a school or by instructing employees not to travel to work, the local authority is preventing the employee from working on that day and, as this is through no fault of their own…” Quite right.

And the TUC states that “Scrooge bosses” who… take away holidays are needlessly adding to their business woes by creating resentment amongst staff.” Doesn’t take a genius to work that out – which is why Oor Cooncil haven’t worked it out, presumably.

They go on: “Workers who have been prevented from getting to work… should not have to foot the bill for the bad weather conditions.”

Do Oor Cooncil think the teachers were on sun loungers sipping drinks at the side of a pool? No. They were not on holiday. They were digging their cars out of the snow and trying to clear streets so that if the weather eased they would have a better chance of reaching their place of work the next day. Some “holiday” that. And yet they are being penalised for a High Heid Yin decision to shut the schools.

If I was a teacher being robbed of my holidays I would be making an appointment with a solicitor. There are complicated rules surrounding lay-off clauses, including rules about statutory guarantee payments and so on, and in terms of the law and adverse publicity for their bonkers policy of attendeeism, these couldn’t-hold-down-a-real-job rulemakers wouldn’t stand a proverbial snowball’s chance…

It’s just another example of ill thought out, silly muddle-headedness by Corporate Services (yes, them again) numpties who couldn’t hold down a job in the real world.

Get a life, boys. And let the teachers have their life – and their holidays – too.

Drew McAdam


SNOW SHIFTING. WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES

December 5, 2010

 

Hats off to them! Oor Cooncil has done a sterling job during the recent cold snap.

No, I’m not being sarcastic. The pen-pushing plonkers in Oor Cooncil have come in for a bashing on several occasions in this column. But, my goodness, the real workers among their number really got stuck into the problem of clearing the streets with a vengeance.

Last year, you may recall, West Lothian was more or less left untouched until the snow had all but gone. Other councils had conscientiously cleared up to our borders; so when you hit West Lothian you knew it, because instead of roads we had snow tracks.

As for theside streets and pavements, they didn’t see rock salt until Spring was about due. Then some wee workers came round in a yellow van and spread messy, gritty, ineffective whinsand. They would have been as well tossing out cheese and onion crisps for all the good that was – and as about aseffective. The A71 – along with other major thoroughfares – was left untouched for days, and everything simply ground to a halt.

But not this time. A foot of snow, on top of everything that had fallen before, fell in two hours. And straight away they were out there, dealing with the situation. Pavements were being cleared. Roads were being snowploughed and gritted. Men with high-viz jackets, with shovels and barrows of salt moved in.

I tell you, something has changed somewhere in the council policy. And whatever that change might be, it is to be applauded.

Mind you, it’s also hats off to the people of Langside Crescent in Polbeth. I had to walk to West Calder, and after a couple of hours I returned to find the snow cleared from the majority of the street. Snowplough? No. Kids with shovels – a squad of them – then the parents joined in, and before long there was a human snowplough working its way down the street.

And one kid I spoke to refused to take any money for his efforts.

So, to all of you who helped keep the county moving, council and communities alike, well done. In the face of one of the worst snowfalls and freeze-ups in living memory, you proved your salt.

And that’s heart-warming no matter what the weather might be outside.

Drew McAdam