Thursday, 1 October 2009


Hullo ma wee blog,

March 10th. Working from home.

The phone rang and I picked it up after a couple of rings, checked the name on the screen, saw it was our head of dept and pressed answer. "Hi boss, how are you?". Unusual but not completely unheard of. We exchanged pleasantries for a moment as I automatically continued work on the item on my laptop and then he said "Alistair, I need you to come for a meeting with me" Thinking it was about a work allocation or project I said "ok, where and when" He immediately came back with " Tomorrow 11.00am in Birmingham".

I felt an instant hit of something like adrenaline, a definite twinge of minor anxiety. This was something a bit different then. I remember hesitating a moment and saying that I already had an appointment in Edinburgh as I was meeting my team leader for my end of year review. I got another jolt when I heard "Its cancelled I'm afraid. This will have to take priority" come back at me. "Take a couple of hours to make any changes to your plans for tomorrow and any travel arrangements and we'll talk later to make sure its all arranged."

Somewhere in my guts a little bastard switched on a washing machine and left the room.

The next day in a room with my head of dept and a company personnel manager I was told after 32 years of service that I was being made redundant in a short perfunctory interview of about 15 minutes, held without advising me of any right to representation. More than half of the dept I worked in got the same message.

Two days later I was told that although selected for redundancy the company wanted to retain my skills and would be looking for a position. I was told that the selection criteria was performance and I expressed surprise as I had always been a green rated performer. I was told there were a lot of those in my dept. Not surprising considering the job we did I suppose, as a project manager for an international company. My head of dept explained that he was given responsibility for deciding who stayed and had ranked us in performance. I asked him how this had been done as we worked across the country and he managed the team remotely through a group of team leaders who had also all been made redundant and he said very clearly " My decision, no one else involved, although I took into consideration previous conversations with the team leaders."

Two weeks after that the company posted record profits and announced 26000 new jobs planned for the year ahead.

Between then and redundancy I was advised of two jobs, one of which was advised as not available the day after, and was sent for one interview where on arrival I was told that the job didn't exist.

I had asked for a copy of the selection criteria and my completed form. It took almost two weeks for my head of dept to supply this and I found that my selection was based on evidence of 130 words after 32 years service. I disagreed vehemently with 90% of what had been written and called my ex team leader to review what my head of dept had written. He said he was non plussed and that none of the negative comments listed had ever been discussed with him in any way and that as I was due my annual review on the day of initial advice of redundancy would not have been any part of my review.

Strangely the staff selected to remain were spread across the UK in a perfect geographical split.

That's the basis of me starting fight the company on the grounds of unfair selection.

Since then I have found that the process used has been in my opinion, and it is only MY opinion, unfair and unreasonable, and through lack of a clear scoring process and a lack of review by senior management, left one person to make highly subjective decisions which has affected me and my future adversely.

there are many other issues involved and included but that's the bones of the story.

yesterday i went to a stage two appeal of the company appeals process, the first appeal having decided that although some aspects may not have been handled correctly, and that as a result of my feedback several points have been fed back to be considered in a review of the process, the underlying decision to dismiss was fair and reasonable.

I don't expect the 2nd stage appeal to do anything other than regurgitate the first decision and have already engaged a lawyer to represent me at an employment tribunal in early December.

We will see what the outcome is in time. But in the meantime I am job hunting.

see you later.

listening to Debussy.....'The Girl With the Flaxen Hair'


Bovey Belle said...

What a complete barrow-loads of barstewards THEY are Al - from start to finish. Sadly, it sounds like the courts are also well-briefed to read only what they want to see. Not that that makes it any easier for you. I'm just glad I never worked in "big business" - there's something to be said for being a stay at home mum - a lot to be said for it, indeed! Sorry to hear that the outcome was so unhelpful . . .

Did that post or didn't it? Trying again.

Alistair said...

Good Morning BB,
Thanks for your comment and empathy. Its been several months now and I have become fairly philosophical about it all as a way of coping, but G and I have been through the whole gamut as you can imagine.
Now I am at the stage where I treat this as a game, not personal, but as moves and strategies. I don't for a second believe the company will offer me my job back, which is the only option I am giving them. Perhaps it will end with an out of court settlement which may help compensate the loss of pension and earnings somewhat. Who knows. Its mainly about me standing up and saying my piece about how it all feels and why it should not be considered fair, responsible or legal to have any company do this to anyone. I would never have believed my employer would treat staff like this with such complete disregard for the values they shout about at every opportunity.

What I am absolutely not prepared to do is let them treat me like that without a protest. I have always been a bit opinionated to be honest, and never averse to sticking my face in front of someone to explain why...

Thanks again.


Alistair said...

And while I'm at it...... I forgot to say that I understand that business needs to be able to change, adapt and that redundancy may have to be part of that change. I accept that and dont have an issue with it.
What I have significant difficulty with is where as in my situation, a small group of people of equal performance is not openly treated in the same way. One of the points I made at the hearing was that to be fair we should have been told up front what was happening in the company and that unfortunately there would have to be a reduction in our team. We should all have been treated the same - displaced and under threat of redundancy - and then had the selection criteria and process explained; eg. we will interview you and based on that discussion and the other criteria will make a decision by this date or that date. If that or something similar had happened I would not be arguing the point.

Bovey Belle said...

Ah, you expected HONESTY from the company? Or possibly integrity? (Sucks air in around teefs . . .) Guess you feel a bit disappointed on that score then . . .

Jennie (off to have a slug of post-luncheon brandy to try and knock her streaming cold on the head. . .)

Alistair said...

Ha... too right.

Hope you enjoyed your lunch and took your medicine like a good wee girl.


Elizabeth Rhiannon said...

32 years?! I can't imagine. My husband was laid off after 8 years and he had a hard time with that. I can't imagine 32 years. Ugh! The best of luck to you Alistair, it sounds like you're doing the right thing ;) ~ER~

Alistair said...

Thanks E.R., much appreciated.


Morning's Minion said...

I made a rather lengthy comment on this comparing a review situation we have re a real estate appraiser. Not to repeat myself [the comment likely is floating through cyberspace] but sometimes we put up a fight because it has to do with personal integrity and reputation. Sadly there is little expectation of significant monetary compensation, but at least we have our say.

Anonymous said...

Alistair, This might give you some idea of how your Bosses minds could have been working re the Selection Process ?
Failing that I hope it gives you a wee smile before round 3
Cheers Scudder

Subject: Hope & Change

Dear employee:

As the CEO of this organization, I have resigned myself to the fact that Barrack Obama ( or Gordon Brown )is our President and that our taxes and government fees will increase in a BIG way. To compensate for these increases, our prices would have to increase by about 10%. But since we cannot increase our prices right now due to the dismal state of the economy, we will have to lay off sixty of our employees instead. This has really been bothering me, since I believe we are family here and I didn't know how to choose who would have to go.
So, this is what I did. I walked through our parking lots and found sixty 'Obama' or
( Brown ) bumper stickers on our employees' cars and have decided these folks will be the ones to let go. I can't think of a more fair way to approach this problem. They voted for change, so I gave it to them.
I will see the rest of you at the annual company picnic.

Alistair said...

nice one......

The Sunday Posts 2017/Mince and Tatties.

Mince and Tatties I dinna like hail tatties Pit on my plate o mince For when I tak my denner I eat them baith at yince. Sae mash ...