The one with George Osborne and the right to flexible working

What a honking great idiot!
Look! I’ve got nothing up my sleeves!

So, George Osborne today announced that, in exchange for between £2,000 and £50,000 of shares, employees can relinquish some of the rights they have as employees. These rights are; claiming unfair dismissal, redundancy, time-off for training and flexible working. There’s also an extra right to relinquish for women, which is to give 16 weeks, instead of 8, notice when returning from maternity leave.

Essentially, what Mr Osborne is saying is that you can either be a) ejected from the company with no recourse or b) imprisoned at your company with no way out for some figure between £2,000 and £50,000.

I understand that this comes down to a matter of ‘shared-ownership’, meaning that, now you have these shares, it’s up to you to do the very best you can to make the company a success, afterall, if the company is a success, you’ll do well too. I also understand that this is voluntary for existing employees, but could become compulsory for new employees, should an employer choose to do it that way.

What I don’t understand is how on earth he thinks this is a good idea? Claiming unfair dismissal is what protects employees from the pointy-haired bosses who surround them. Redundancy, unless political or strategic, would indicate a company not doing so well (so, who would want shares?). Training is important if you want to retain, improve and increase the value of your staff and flexible working? What on earth does he mean?

For some shares, you get to give up the ability to work from 9 – 5:30, every day in the same office? What a marvellous idea! Let’s ignore the fact that people don’t all march to the same drum – folks aren’t productive when you want them to be, they’re not creative when the clock showing a specific time. Let’s ignore the fact that people have children, families, teeth, health and the multitude of other things that mean working 9 – 5.30 is difficult and a dumb idea. Further, we should force people into thinking that spending time in a particular location, between particular hours is a measure of how well they’re working. Let’s completely ignore the fact that by focussing on WHEN we are, we cannot focus on WHAT we do. Business should focus on results, not hours.

This new proposal from the CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER clearly shows that he has almost no idea how business works in the 21st century. Stop trying to apply old fashioned, often Taylorist views, on how you think businesses should be run and be forward-thinking, pragmatic and revolutionary in helping small- and medium-sized businesses achieve greatness.


The Snoopers Charter

So, I wrote my MP, Sam Gyimah:

Hey Sam,

Haven’t written in a while, but this new ‘Communications Data Bill’ has really got me worried.

While I have absolutely nothing to hide, I believe that too many people having access to too much of my information – personal information – that can be easily accesses and held insecurely, is a terrible idea. I’m also fairly sure that, given the track record of data-loss by organisations in this country, the access will not be properly regulated.

Collecting and having access to this data by law-enforcement, with a warrant, is a good idea, but only in small measures and certainly not the broad strokes the bill lays out and without adequate safeguards.

Why is it the EVERYBODY’S data will be collected and stored – mine, yours, my mothers and not JUST those who are under suspicion? I pretty sure there is no good reason to collect this information about me without my consent and further, there can never be a reason why this data can be accessed so easily and without warrant. Who get’s to decide who accesses this data? Law enforcement. Do they need a reason? Probably not – that’s the meaning of warrantless.

Hiding under a shroud of “maintaining capability”, whatever THAT means, the bill, in it’s current form, is dangerous and alarming. Much of the data the bill makes reference too, held by services like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc, is much richer than that of a telephone conversation and, once mined, will probably highlight things about me that I don’t even know. This is invasive and most unwelcome.

This kind of snooping and data storage requires stringent oversight to make sure that people are not put at risk.

I have seen no evidence to support the need for this bill. It undermines the commitment of the coalition (which YOU are a part of Sam), to enhance our civil liberties.

I would like you, on my behalf, to oppose this bill unless it changes significantly. On top of that, I’d like you to make others aware of what dangers this poses and how it could be abused. Control over these kind of powers needs to be tightened, not loosened as this bill requires.

Yours Sincerely,

Mike Pearce

A referendum every day.

Metabograph, right panel - by A.M Kuchling at Flickr
A radio ... with buttons

Sounds exciting doesn’t it? That’s because it is and it could be easy. This post was written because of @phillprice tweeting this:

Here’s an idea – no taxes just an 090 number to call and we all get to vote on a policy a day.

But it’s something I’ve thought for a while and discussed with those both cleverer and far more political than me.

Disclaimer: This post is perhaps a little off-topic, but it has computers in it, so it’s staying…

Imagine if you woke up every day, made yourself a nice little cappucino, sat on your Ikea bench at your Ikea table, opened your laptop and voted in a referendum … every day. This is a possibility.

I would love to take part in something like that, direct democracy, making my vote count every day. The kind of things you could vote for range from the trivial, to the hugely important. You logged into a website with your National Insurance number, or other such unique identifier and were presented with a page of questions and radio buttons. You simply selected “Yes” or “No” as a radio button for each question, or whatever the question warranted as an answer and move to the next, when you’re done, click submit. You could be asked:

  • Should the local council paint the lamp posts in the high street, or install new litter bins? (Read more…) (Closes in 3 days)
    • Paint lamp posts
    • Install litter bins
    • Either
  • Should the council raise council tax by 0.1% or 0.2% (Read more …) (Closes in 1 day)
    • 0.1%
    • 0.2%
    • Either
  • Should the UK enter the EU? (Read more …) (Closes in 2 weeks)
    • Yes
    • No

So, a series of question, with answers and a read more link. The link could take you to an impartially authored page describing the pros and cons of the choices. Being online means you could also get the skinny from other websites, visit Wikipedia (if you dare) and discuss it with your friends (if they’re local). The questions remain open for a period of time, giving you breathing space to research the questions you need (you don’t need to research painting lamp posts vs new litter bins, do you?).

This gives the government and the local councillors more time to spend on the bigger issues they tackle without having to worry about every little detail. We’ll be more involved and the country could, for some things, get more of a say in what goes on. The side affects being that perhaps more people will become interested in policitcs and that is always a good thing.

If you didn’t want to vote, then you don’t have to. You don’t now anyway and the decisions are made, but imagine if you could be part of something like this every day. You’d feel more satisfied knowing that you had somewhere to throw your empty double-caff-vanilla-frappacino-vent-latte cup intead of freshly painted lamp posts and that you had something to do with it.