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This Could Happen To You

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, May 6th, 2019 - 58 comments
Categories: employment, jobs, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, unemployment - Tags: , , , ,

For some reason, this story struck a nerve. An 80-year old had his 59-year career terminated by an impersonal e-mail from a faceless manager. Ironically, the manager on his public LinkedIn profile likes a post entitled “Treat a janitor with the same respect as the CEO”.

Isn’t it sad that we now treat people as liabilities and cost posts in a general ledger account rather than individuals? It doesn’t seem to matter whether you have proven your loyalty, commitment, and dedication when Health & Safety considerations, for example, or ‘restructuring’ or ‘reorganising’ of the business, dictate your removal and/or replacement. They don’t even seem to know your name or make an attempt to retrieve it from a file. There’s no excuse for it. In the past, you had to walk down the corridor, find the appropriate person who had to dig for a folder in a filing cabinet to find a first name, for example. Nowadays, it’s all on bloody file at your fingertips.

Of all people, one would like to think that somebody in charge of Events and Experience in the Arts scene would be more people-focussed. Alas, when one works for the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency it is clearly about business, first and foremost, and much less so about people.

Unfair, you might say. Well, actions speak louder than words, don’t they?

Have people grown more inconsiderate (of other people)?  Have people become intrinsically more self-centred? Can’t we or don’t we want to see the other human behind the name, face, or position? Do we really prefer the impersonal ‘personalised’ spaces created for us (!) by so-called Social Media? It seems so.

I’m struggling to avoid cold cynicism when I read this item and although the man at the receiving end in the story doesn’t seem to act like a victim or wronged person, I think he is. We all are, when we are being treated like this.

My point is not, to be absolutely clear, that we should not let this happen to others and us. My point is that we should not do this to others but treat them with respect and courtesy; they deserve it as much as we do so why give them any less? It is not much to ask but apparently harder and harder to practice. Now, here’s something we can do without waiting for leaders to lead us.

58 comments on “This Could Happen To You”

  1. James 1

    i note that he’s a contractor not an employee. There is a big difference.

    Perhaps the contract just came to an end and he assumed ?

    • Incognito 1.1

      I note you missed the point by a mile.

      • gsays 1.1.1

        I have the feeling that it was deliberately missed.

        It always comes as a shock that folk like James are amongst us and often have positions of authority.

        Once again a thread gets derailed and offers nothing of value, indeed takes a metaphorical dump over a meaningful exchange.

      • Doogs 1.1.2

        By a country mile!

    • gsays 1.2

      James, a big difference to whom?

    • Formerly Ross 1.3

      James

      It would be up to the ERA to decide if he is an employee or not. But you miss the point of the article. Try reading it again.

      • James 1.3.1

        The article clearly states he’s a contractor and nobody is disputing it.

        • Formerly Ross 1.3.1.1

          Unlike you I don’t automatically believe everything I read.

          Some educational reading for you.

          “In essence, the courts must determine the real nature of the relationship by considering all relevant matters and by not treating any statements by the persons (i.e. what is said in the agreement) as determinative.”

          https://www.employmentlaw.net.nz/faq/employee-or-contractor/

    • Gabby 1.4

      Not what the letter says is it jimbo.

  2. gsays 2

    My elderly mum got a Final Warning letter about her phone bill last week. It is dated 29 April, she received it 4th May.

    The first paragraph says that she had been recently contacted about her overdue bill and that her services are now suspended. She hadn't been contacted.

    The letter goes on to say disconnect, debt, collection agency, further costs and charges and will affect credit rating.

    She was in a right tizz when we saw her last night. She had paid, religiously by cheque, as always. Because of Easter, Anzac Day etc this letter must have been generated and sent.

    The last line on the back of this missive without a senders name or signature, asks to be phoned if paying by cheque. Something that she has not done since being with the company for many years now.

    I looked the provider up, they claim their values are customer centric, with relationships based on empathy and integrity, that they are small enough to be flexible and they celebrate diversity.

    I will be having a chat to them today and see how these claims stack up.

    • Incognito 2.1

      Good luck with it. Courtesy goes a long way.

      • gsays 2.1.1

        I spoke to a customer services rep of the phone company.

        It was, as expected a cross over in letters, automation etc.

        I suggested that, with that in mind, perhaps an apology letter would be appropriate. This suggestion was going to be forwarded to her senior support team….

        When pushed on what contact they had made before the final warning, I was told I was not authorised to be told that.

        I am now going to e-mail the company and see if an apology can be extracted from them.

    • WeTheBleeple 2.2

      I back them down every time by having a conversation about the issues then casually mentioning I'm recording it – and have media friends.

      I told telecom back in the day I'd make them the subject of a comedy show – service restored! They're gutless in the light of day.

      • James 2.2.1

        i think you will find they laugh at you as opposed to are scared of your passive threats.

        • WeTheBleeple 2.2.1.1

          I think you are full of shit as I've backed plenty of companies off on my and others behalf.

          And once again, you have comments, but nothing of substance.

          • woodart 2.2.1.1.1

            I agree that james is full of it. a massed letter bombing to all heads of department gets REAL QUICK results,(have used this against crappy telco service, got amazing service and appologies).can thoroughly recommend this. make it real letters, hard copy, it makes more of an impression these days…

    • James 2.3

      Perhaps if she paid the bill on time she would not get to the “final warning”.

      The reason letters like like this are blunt are because the polite notices were ignored.

      And of course you are going to say she never received them – I call bullshit on that – companies have good AR processes – I’d believe them over your mum

      • WeTheBleeple 2.3.1

        We know you prefer corporates over mums you don't need to go on.

        Plenty of companies include threatening language in their first bill. If… Then…

      • gsays 2.3.2

        Perhaps your comprehension skills need brushing up James. "She had paid…as always."
        EDIT: What does you ‘calling bullshit on that’ mean?
        She did not receive a letter nor phone call.
        Perhaps it is time for you to apologise?
        Once you have worked on comprehension you could get your empathy by-pass reversed.

        • Rapunzel 2.3.2.1

          Which to me leads to the real fact that "improved, upgraded and instant" communication is anything but. Having had cause to contact insurance after an initial claim for a dropped laptop that would be back in "2-3 weeks", details that were advised by text by the repair company, and following call from the insurer (to us?) as to whether we had had the repair completed and returned. To try and make a long story short both the insurance person sat in long phone queues for service – me to them and them to the repairer.

          Obviously the volume of clients has increased, but the same applies to my brother losing his Vodafone broadband AND phone connection for three weeks and me trying to get a small repair to my car so it is roadworthy until the actual repair is done after someone heavily shunted the back of it.

          In all cases "communication" was lengthy to even begin inconsistent and sometimes non-exisitent when messages were not even replied to.

          Even IRD has had problems indentifying a payment in their bank before a letter is dispatched most unsettling if you clear a mailbox on a Sat morning and have received that letter to stew over before Monday rolls around! With mail delivery only three says a week and any stat holidays in the way timing can be well out of kilter.

          A funny thing is for the whole three weeks I could not convince my other "right-leaning" brother that his (the other brother's) phone had NOT been cut off due to non-payment, he would not be convinced that it could be anything other than that, what's that about as an automatic assumption to make?

          • gsays 2.3.2.1.1

            " A funny thing is for the whole three weeks I could not convince my other "right-leaning" brother that his (the other brother's) phone had NOT been cut off due to non-payment, he would not be convinced that it could be anything other than that, what's that about as an automatic assumption to make? "

            This reveals what is held in yr righty brothers heart. It shows how he judges folk because that is how he would behave.

            Like Mr Spray and walk away James above, displaying a total lack of empathy.

            Then a lack of personal responsibility which tories are so keen for others to display. Hypocritical at best, rude at its core.

            • Rapunzel 2.3.2.1.1.1

              I know and it makes things awkward just a basic dismissal like that, why even would we need to have any mention of it at all when he's been told that's not the case – having full blown row might make me feel better for a bit but there's really no point and it's a bit sad, he has no idea that we feel sorry for him – ignorance must really be "bliss" after all.

      • Anne 2.3.3

        You're a rotten bastard of a man James @2.3. It's natural for you to put a vulnerable person such as an elderly lady down because it's so easy. Such people can't fight back. Somebody in the phone company messed up badly.

        I'll say one thing about telephone and power companies of yore. Back in the 1990s my old Mum received similar threats to cut off her phone and her power (both at different times) and she also paid by cheque sent through the post. When I approached both companies they were full of apologies to her for their mistakes.

        Twenty plus ears ago old fashioned courtesy still existed but it is rapidly disappearing out the window and your response James is a typical example – telephone company always right, little old lady always wrong.

      • woodart 2.3.4

        dont know whether that makes you a fool or a tool, believing the corporate line. whats it like to feel like a number james, or should that be # 34987456387556229-02 ?

  3. Formerly Ross 3

    “this concern has been heightened by the tragedy in Christchurch”

    What has Christchurch got to do with this guy’s employment? The manager sounds too weak to even tell him the truth.

    • James 3.1

      you miss the BIG point – he is not an employee this “he” is not employed by them.

      • Nick 3.1.1

        Fuck off jimmy

      • Incognito 3.1.2

        James, please stop derailing the post.

        Nobody is disputing the right to terminate contracts or to not renew them. The point is that being or staying ‘pretty legal’ does not mean you stop interacting at a human level and become a techno-bureaucratic entity. The post is about how we treat each other.

      • peterlepaysan 3.1.3

        It is YOUR BIG point and irrelevant. Get a life.

    • Jimmy 3.2

      You say "this guy's employment"…….isn't the company simply changing from one supplier (ie. him) to another supplier (security company)?

      The manager is still a d**k by the way he did it.

  4. Formerly Ross 4

    The film I, Daniel Blake sprang to mind when I read this story.

  5. Doogs 5

    Amen to that Incognito. This is the disposable society and people are part of that callous and unfeeling approach. If we continue to treat others as if they are a used nappy then we will move in ever-diminishing concentric circles, finally disappearing up our own fundamental orifice – quote from Australian author Nino Culotta.

  6. Lucy 6

    The thing that I read into the story was that the eighty year old was doing a job he obviously enjoyed, getting out and interacting with people, except apparently his "boss". He is an employee as it is not legal to contract out the same job to the same person for 15 years. When I contracted most contract demanded down time after 2 years to avoid the job being seen as a permanent job. To be clear the man sending the email is an incompetent idiot, but to be honest large amounts of our managers are.

    • RedLogix 6.1

      I really hope they did have him as a 'contractor' for 15yrs because if so any halfway competent employment lawyer will likely win the guy a massive settlement.

    • McFlock 6.2

      Here's hoping…

  7. One Two 7

    Corporate automation is mostly machine automation made up of processes and workflows from which messaging transactions generate invoices and reports etc…

    Human beings have been relegated to less than data entry interactions&nbsp;as a generalisation. Some corrective actions if&nbsp;<em>customers&nbsp;</em>have grievance and follow up on it…otherwise the machine automation continues with little requirement for human intervention..

    Corporate policies, mission statements or other&nbsp;<em>feel good&nbsp;</em>double speak is mostly weasel words…

    As automation expands to serve corporate objectives of making money, the human being will likely become more deeply relegated within the systems…

    &nbsp;

    • woodart 7.1

      think that can be a copout. have had personal experience of a telco selling an incorrect debt against my name when I was living overseas. got back to find baycorp charging me with an unpaid bill from a person with different spelling surname,different first initials, different birthdate and different street number in the same street I had lived in. all blamed on computer…bullshit , no computer is that dumb as to make those elemental mistakes and them line someone else up.. took months of wasted time on my behalf to fix these corporate phuckups up. never got any mea-culper from the telco now known as skrap

  8. Michael 8

    Who gets to say whether someone is an "employee" or a "contractor"? The people who make the laws, that's who. And why do the people who make the laws make those laws in ways that favour the interests of capital, over labour, time and time again? Because the law-makers know which side they are on, even as they calculate the voters do not.

  9. McFlock 9

    I can see why they might want to switch to security contractors in the evenings (nothing to do with chch, just if a drunkard or a freak gets fixated on a cast member, or if they had someone come in and wander around / nick wallets).

    Thing is, he'd probably be a useful guy to have around backstage (especially for opera). Besides checking people in/out so the SM knows who needs a rark up at call time (which even most lifters would be capable of), having someone backstage who is experienced in the problems folks are facing yet is an island of calm provides a lot of reassurance to everyone else, and creates a steady kernel around which a real team atmosphere can form. And can be an extra hand if things turn a bit crap backstage lol

    Whereas a rotating security contractor who has no idea what's going on can be a bit cumbersome at specialised events.

    • greywarshark 9.1

      Sound ideas McFlock. And Panda – 'I am sure its more of an [un]emotional junior staffer thing.' FIFY.

      • greywarshark 9.1.1

        Reminds me of how NZ won an advertising award with a Dear John Letter ad. All to do with recording tapes and how effective they can be. Made everyone very sad!

  10. Panda 10

    I am sure its more of an emotional junior staffer thing.

  11. OnceWasTim 11

    Btw, anyone in Wellington who happens to be passing Bats Theater – hop inside and check out a few of Marcus McShane's Pearls of Wisdom.

    If there are a few Labour Party politicians about, it'd be time well spent as well.

    (Some might even avail themselves of a Chardonnay at the bar while they're at it)

  12. greywarshark 12

    Pearls of Wisdom. One a day would be nice?

    Today's – “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

    "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."

    "Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't."

    Eleanor Roosevelt. https://www.brainyquote.com/search_results?q=eleanor+roosevelt

    At age 15 Eleanor enrolled at Allenswood, a girls’ boarding school outside London, where she came under the influence of the French headmistress, Marie Souvestre. Souvestre’s intellectual curiosity and her taste for travel and excellence—in everything but sports—awakened similar interests in Eleanor, who later described her three years there as the happiest time of her life. Reluctantly, she returned to New York in the summer of 1902 to prepare for her “coming out” into society that winter. Following family tradition, she devoted time to community service, including teaching in a settlement house on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Eleanor-Roosevelt

    How many comfortably off families have a tradition of doing community good like that in NZ? How many in USA?

  13. Jum 13

    If the idiots in charge of any economy can't turn a worker into an asset in the accounting system instead of an expense, they don’t deserve to be in charge. Workers are the economy.

  14. Obtrectator 14

    Nothing new about this. I recall some government (or government-related) organisation in the early nineties which didn't issue redundancy notices at all. Just let it be known that if you hadn't been spoken to by management by a certain date and time, then you could take it you'd been awarded the DCM*.

    *Don't Come Monday

    • Incognito 14.1

      You are right. People used to give way to others in traffic, nowadays they give them the finger and swear at them. Things have got worse, IMHO, and it is symptomatic of something that is eating away at our society. Expect more apocalyptic movies and flesh-eating zombies …

      • Phil 14.1.1

        Give it a rest, curmudgeon.

        The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

        • Obtrectator 14.1.1.1

          You left out wronging the ancientry and getting wenches with child.

          • Phil 14.1.1.1.1

            I remember a time when the altar at my local temple used to be in pristine condition year 'round. We made do with sacrificing pigs and chickens because that was all we had and we didn't complain. Now, you can barely move through the temple without tripping on leftover bits of Oxen. Everyone's trying to outdoor each other with bigger and fatter animals to sacrifice.

            … and don't even get me started on the kids these days with the "Yahweh this" and the "Prophesy of Jeremiah that".

  15. Trump is fired. The religious right has gotten a lot from him, and aren't going to reward Trump and so associate themselves with the seperating families policy. Sure they forgive him, tgeir Christians, but reward him, not likely. no moral authority supporting ripping families apart.

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  • Speech to Labour Party Congress 2020
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