Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

The consequences of casualisation

I am inhibited by the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 and the Olympic Symbol (Protection) Act of 1995 from using certain words (see explanation on BBC News Website 13 July 2012)  in this post. I hope the sponsorship police accept my deletions as trying to stay within the “Olympic©®™ Spirit”.  However there are certain words which we are not prohibited from using in connection with the forthcoming Capital Jamboree.

I am wondering why we bothered – it seems to be all risk and no reward – but I suppose that is how we handled the bank bailout, so why not also apply it to the self-indulgent sports fortnight for some rather over sponsored prima donnas, a few convicted drug cheats and a number of honest sportsmen and women who have allowed their hobby to become far too serious.

The risks: basically the country (not just our “precious” capital) looks bad:

  • Probable chaos at immigration (BBC News Website 11 April 2012, 9 July 2012)
  • A road link to central London that is crocked (BBC News website 13 July 2012) – but, with emergency weight restrictions, probably will not actually collapse (god-forbid)
  • Hotels that will take as much money off visitors as possible (Which? website 16 February 2012) – this is a capitalistic capital and if the city can rip people off, why shouldn’t hoteliers and caterers?
  • A transport system that suffers congestion on normal work days – before traffic lanes are taken out of action for members of the “Olympic family” (London Evening Standard 30 January 2012, 24 May 2012, …)
  • Visitors seeing rough sleepers in London (BBC News Website 13 July 2012) – Rough Sleeping has risen by 43% in 2011/12 (Broadway on Homeless.org.uk), could this be partly due to landlords throwing people out of their flats to make room for Olympic visitors (Daily Telegraph 11 April 2012, Guardian 18 May 2012)?
  • A mobile phone system that falls over (BBC News Website 12 July 2012)
  • A retail bank system which has recently inconvenienced millions of customers (Mirror Website 26 June 2012)
  • A security incident.  An under trained “security guard” might let through someone with a smoke or stink bomb – which when let off in say the velodrome will lead to a precautionary evacuation – and who is to say something worse will not get into the main stadium.
  • Boris letting the side down with a wardrobe mal-function.
  • The River Lee floods.

The rewards: The key here is to ask which rewards might we still have got if the games had been at say Paris or Madrid.

  • Brits winning lots of medals leading to a feel good factor – but remember we will not see them coming down the aircraft steps displaying their haul; they will not be flying home.  We shall have to have an artificial homecoming.
  • Lots of sport on the telly at a time convenient to us – Paris (or Madrid) are only an hour different
  • School children being inspired to take up sport – why is this more likely when we have diverted funds to build the East London sports camp (only a minority of school children will actually use those facilities afterwards), and why is the London location going to make such a difference compared to say Paris.

Much of the running of the next few weeks is highly reliant on casual or temporary labour whether they be Border Agency staff seconded to the immigration desks, additional temps taken on by hotels and caterers, or G4S’s “security guards”.  In many cases the employer’s commitment is very temporary consisting of paying a low wage and not much else.  Training is often cursory (BBC News Website 12 July 2012) – well these are only casual staff – we don’t want to invest too much in them.  The messages on news sites (e.g. Channel 4 website BBC News website both 12 July 2012) about the attitude of the employers (mainly G4S) towards these “human resources” (I don’t think they call them people – they are just units of resource) seems designed to undermine any commitment initially keen people may have to doing the job.

Because of the G4S fiasco, we are having to draft in “permanent” professionals to do the job – but then last week the Government announced (Reuters 5 July 2012) that it was laying off 20,000 soldiers and replacing them with 15,000 reservists.  Yes, even the military is being casualised (although I accept that the Terratorials are at the top end of temporary staff)

Casualisation is a cancer which causes people to be viewed as mere “resources” to be pushed around like chess pieces – often by temporary managers who care little for anything other than their own very crude “success criteria”.  Casual contracts are corrosive to self-esteem and to family life.  If they are the “only way” that events like the Olympics can be delivered, perhaps we would be better off without them – or at least we could enjoy them at a distance.

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One thought on “The consequences of casualisation

  1. Pingback: Selective Committal and Media Mauling « Outside the marginals

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