I can only imagine the despair felt by the 4600 Rolls Royce workers who are to lose their jobs. I know at second, if not first, hand how devastating this can be, especially for those of ‘a certain age’. One minute, you have a job you love, a job for life. The next you are stumbling into the job seeking wilderness, wondering what the hell to do next.
Already, the story is yesterday’s news. It doesn’t touch the front pages of any of the newspapers. Even when you dip inside the papers, the stories suggest it’s not as bad as you might think. It’s ‘only’ back office staff and mid-managers who will be going, implying that these were unnecessary non-jobs in the first place and that the frontline would be unchanged. Pull the other one.
Of course, I know none of the internal machinations about Rolls Royce so it would be foolish to pretend otherwise. However, I have seen this ‘we’re protecting the frontline’ bullshit before. For example, let’s look at the police service. For years, this Conservative government and the preceding Conservative government in which some Liberal Democrats had jobs, have hacked away at police numbers. ‘Don’t worry,” went the spin. ‘We are leaving the frontline intact. We’re just stripping out unnecessary back office jobs.’ In every sense imaginable, it was simply untrue.
So called back office in the police service was not somehow a layer of unnecessary bureaucracy. It was about taking statements, ensuring continuity of evidence including safe storage, continuity, interviewing suspects and that is just scratching the service. Then, bear in mind a legal system in which the defence, understandably, wants to tie up the prosecution in knots, the police cannot and rarely do cut corners. Strip out back office jobs and who has to do the work? You’ve got it: the frontline. Cutting out back office, removing layers of so called bureaucracy: it’s often a myth.
The Rolls Royce job cull is about one thing and one thing only: maximising profit. It wants to double its free cash flow to circa £2 billion, it seeks to deliver more than £1 in free cash per share, the aim to increase of 60% on invested capital. The company has chosen to do this by sacking people.
It is a tough world out there in the current jobs market. There are certainly many jobs to be had, albeit mainly low paid, insecure with unpleasant hours, the self-employed employment scam, irregular shifts or no guaranteed hours at all. It must be a horrible place to be.
The system that giveth jobs, taketh them away. This is the free market system we choose to live by, where workers are often, I’d say usually, expendable in pursuit of a greater bottom line. I have seen lives changed forever and even wrecked by job losses and it’s not nice to watch. Perhaps, there is a political and economic system out there which allows more of a regulated, compassionate free market, where workers are regarded as at least, if not more than, equal in terms of importance.