The Judge RANTS!
I have a little tale to tell.
It's a story which sums up the fundamental dishonesty at the heart of our system of administration today.
A large, publicly-funded...
(Wait a mo! Should it be 'publicly', or 'publically'? Neither looks right, dammit!)
...anyway, a large organisation which is a key part of the central Civil Service decides at its highest level (that's 'highest' as in smells) that having facilities where the public can come in and seek advice is a burden they no longer want.
However, just closing those facilities outright immediately would be, to say the least, impolitic. Or, to say the most, cause a ginormous shitstorm. So the All-Highest hatch a plan by which they hope that people won't notice. They:
- Close some of those facilities (let's call them 'Enquiry Centres', just as a convenient label) altogether.
- Of those which remain, move a proportion of them to different locations, often locations which are more difficult for people to get to, especially of they are reliant on public transport. And even if they have their own transport, there's nowhere they can park nearby without paying through the nose.
- Cut the opening hours so that Centres which used to open eight hours a day, five days a week are now only to open for one or two days a week. And then not clearly tell the 'customer' that you have done this, so that they turn up when you're shut.
- Even if/when the 'customer' manages to negotiate this obstacle course, you give the staff working in the Enquiry Centres clear instructions that they are not actually to help anyone when they turn up; you simply direct them to a small bank of telephones or a nearby internet-enabled computer so that they have to phone a call centre or try to navigate the organisation's website.
- You then use all this as the convenient excuse you've been desperately seeking to justify closing all of the Enquiry Centres, on the grounds that only half as many people are using them compared to just before you started fannying about with them.
- You then announce that an entire region of the country will lose all of its Enquiry Centres between now and the autumn. But - you reassure the 'customer' - this is just a 'pilot exercise' to see if the alternatives work. You soothe them further by suggesting that - if they don't have internet access at home - they could always go along to the offices of a different organisation and use theirs instead. What happens to those who don't have an office of that Department in their town anymore either (because they followed the same 'strategy' five years ago), or what happens to those who can't afford the premium-rate phone lines where most callers have to wait for ages just to get through to an under-trained and under-pressure human being, is considered a matter of minor consequence, to be resolved by offering to visit the 'customer' in his/her own home, or by arranging to meet at the local library - assuming they still have one of those.
- You accompany your announcement about the closure of the entire Enquiry Office network in one region by an announcement that every Enquiry Office in the whole of the country will close, starting from this time next year. This is in advance of the results of the 'pilot exercise', of course, which would tend to suggest that the only 'pilot' involved is Pontius (*), and that - even if the 'exercise' is shown to be a catastrophic failure - you have no intention of reversing the policy.
As you may have guessed, O perceptive reader, this is all the work of my own dear Depratment.
I don't know which I find more insulting: the way in which what a colleague of mine used to call 'Top Shop' have connived at a policy deliberately designed to produce the result they wanted (but didn't dare admit to); or that they now expect not only the public but the staff to believe that any connection between the policy and the longed-for consequences is just one of those happy coincidences.
This is just the latest kick: coming as it does on top of real-terms pay cuts (spun as 'pay rises', as if a 'rise' of one per cent when inflation is officially nearly three times that, and living costs not far off twice as much again, can be counted as a 'rise'); having to pay more for our "gold-plated pensions" (© the Mule, the Scum, the Torygraph - and every other corporate media outlet you can name), get less out and have to wait longer to get them; office closures which mean more people having to travel further to work; and even the effective removal of the time given to our elected union officials to do the job we have elected them to do...
...and all of this without the slightest attempt on the part of the régime to discuss or negotiate in good faith...
...As I say, coming after All Of The Above, then perhaps you might have a greater understanding as to why I and tens of thousands of my colleagues will be on strike next Wednesday (30th March). It's a pity that the other major public-sector unions - or, to be more accurate, the leaderships of same - don't seem to want to do anything very much at the moment, but at least we will be standing up and being counted (possibly by MI5).
Of course, you could just prefer to believe the bollocks being churned out by the régime and its embedded corporate media, and carry on thinking that we're just a terrible drain on The Nation's Wealth™, dahlings. In which case, ultimately, you will deserve all you get, although that won't be what you thought you were wishing for.
(* Yes, I know the 'joke' doesn't work written down. So sue me)