Vacancies, Ethics, ‘Brexit,’ and Tiffany
I had lunch with a good friend the other day. He’s a very busy man. He runs the UK operation of a major and very successful European parking company; heads up its operation in another country; and leads its international business development.
None of my business, but aren’t these three full-time jobs, and wouldn’t the company do even better if it recognized this? Anyway, he’s happy, and as I said, none of my business.
I digress … we were talking about his company’s new contract at one of the UK’s largest airports.
First surprising thing, the airport as a whole (shops, airlines, airport, etc.) has nearly a thousand unfilled vacancies at a time when our UK economy is moribund and, supposedly, people are looking for work.
The explanation is, I believe, actually quite simple. The airport is in the wealthiest part of the UK, and although the jobs aren’t minimum wage, the pay is not high. Add to this “shift patterns” and the need to not have holidays at peak times (e.g., school holidays); plus the fact that you need to live in the most expensive part of the country, or commute a long way; and for many people, the math doesn’t work.
Basic economic theory says the pay needs to be higher; political expediency says get to work or lose your welfare check.
The second thing we talked about was the ethics of handing over a fixed-term contract when someone else wins the renewal. Maybe I am naïve, but to me this is a no-brainer. If you don’t win, then exit as smoothly as possible with the least disruption for the client. In short, behave like a gentleman.
After all, what comes around goes around, and in a few years, you may win the contract back; do you really then want to have to deal with the guy you screwed with last time round? More to the point, when considering your bid, do you really want the client to look back and see what a pain in the arse you were the last time?
I have worked with this friend on and off for about seven years, and it’s amazing the stuff we have had to put up with:
Companies that took out key staff who are guaranteed continuity of employment if they stay; only to lay them off after a few months because they had no real job for them but wanted to wreck the start-up of the new contract. Not passing on financial and/or technical information that they are legally or contractually obliged to deliver.
Not updating websites to remove the site, thus misleading customers about where they can access the service. (In one case, the departing operator suddenly decided that they owned key parts of the equipment and walked off with it, leaving the in-comer with a non-functional PARC system and several weeks lead-time to get a replacement.)
To me, this is just dumb; the in-comer always works out a solution, making him the good guy and reinforcing the wisdom of the decision to give them the contract. And they are definitely not going to be a good sport if/when you take a contract off them in the future.
But to me the most important reason of all to “play nice” – the client will remember you if you don’t, and next time the contract comes up for renewal, you start with two strikes against you.
A feature of writing this column is the lead time, usually at least a month between its leaving my keyboard and appearing in your mail box, or on a screen. Bearing that in mind, I will report on the “burning issue” over here, as I write this, and hope that nothing too drastic changes in the next few weeks.
Given the acronym “Brexit,” it’s all about a June 23 referendum, in which we vote on whether or not to secede from the European Union – the alliance that ties more and more of Europe into an ever closer political and economic arrangement.
The EU is very far from perfect, with some pretty dumbass rules, but it also has some pretty good stuff, too; not least of which is the European Convention on Human Rights. This guarantees our basic human rights. Our government hates this, because the European courts have become the last refuge of a citizen threatened by “big brother” government.
Certainly, the present UK government would happily withdraw from this “un-British” convention. Rather inconveniently though, the convention is largely based on a document drawn up by British lawyers after WWII to protect the people in war-ravaged Europe. Oops!
Anyway the Brexit argument is mainly based on two issues: immigration and money.
The anti-EU people argue that we are drowning in immigrants from the EU “who take our jobs and steal our welfare” (and ravish our women, implied), and that we would all be better off if we cast ourselves adrift from Johnny Foreigner across the English (ours, of course) Channel. The inconvenient truth of the first concern is that, taken overall, the EU citizens who work in the UK are net contributors to our economy, putting in more than they take out.
The economic argument seems even clearer, to me at least. The UK Treasury says that each household would be about $7,000 a year poorer outside the EU. Just about all international financial institutions, banks and learned bodies agree with this general conclusion.
The other side says, without justification, that the figure and conclusion are nonsense, and that we would negotiate a better deal with all our trading partners as the UK, rather than as a part of the EU. This optimism rather inconveniently forgets that the folks on the other side may not be of the same mind.
For example, all of Europe has lost a big slice of its market for agricultural goods with the ban on trade with Russia. If the UK leaves the EU, why on earth would the rest of Europe want to let British goods in when their exclusion would take up some of the slack created by the Russian ban?
And, finally, a “Well Done” to Tiffany Yu, a Marketing Specialist at Scheidt & Bachmann and Secretary of Women In Parking (WIP). She contacted me a few months ago about reaching out to the European parking industry on behalf of the U.S. organization to try to set up a branch over on this side of the pond.
I was able to offer Tiffany a few names and suggestions about whom to approach and, by dint of hard work and perseverance, she seems to have got European WIP off the ground. Give her a medal, someone; she deserves it!
Peter Guest, a Consultant in the UK, is PT’s Editor-at-Large on all things British, European, Middle Eastern and Indian. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.