In Your Face

In Your Face
Thought provoking opinions on topical issues.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Paranoia Over the Enlarged EU

As from May 2004 the EU will be joined by a number of countries from the old Soviet Bloc including; Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland.

Predictably, certain elements of the British press have whipped up a frenzy of fear and loathing.

We are told that we can expect thousands of economic migrants "swamping" our overstretched infrastructure, and taking our hard earned benefits away.

Well, let me shine a little light of reality on this "paranoid claptrap". I have travelled many times to many of these countries, including the Baltic States, on business. In my opinion, this country could do a lot worse than have a wave of immigration from the population of these countries.

The people of these countries have a number of admirable characteristics, including:

  • A high level of education

  • A good grasp of English, among many

  • A desire to shrug off the restrictions of the old Soviet era, and a welcoming attitude to change and progress

  • A desire to work hard to better themselves

  • An inspired entrepreneurial streak, that the UK could most certainly do with

  • Aside from the benefits of the citizens of these countries choosing to make their homes in the UK, there are other benefits of enlargement:

  • The enlargement of the EU will open up previously closed markets, hence creating an opportunity for economic growth.

  • The ex Soviet economies are ripe for Western entrepreneurs to set up businesses, and earn healthy revenue streams which benefit all.

  • It may be that given the opportunities available in these countries, some British citizens will emigrate there instead.

  • I certainly enjoyed my time when I was there and, if a good opportunity arose, may well do the same myself.

    Thursday, February 19, 2004

    Something that Really Scares Me

    I am, like all other humans, subject to feelings of wariness about certain behaviour traits that do not necessarily fit in with my own.

    Taking a look at my own habits, and traits, I categorise the following as causing me “mild” wariness:

    · I am a sociable person, who enjoys a sociable drink; consequently I am a little wary about people who do not drink socially.

    · I am not a religious person, and although I respect everyone’s right to follow and practice their own religious beliefs; I am wary of those who inflict their beliefs on others.

    · I am of the school “work hard, play hard”; consequently I am wary of those, fit healthy adults, who habitually retire to their beds early.

    It is publicly recorded that President Bush:

    · Does not drink

    · Holds compulsory morning prayer meetings for all his staff

    · Tries to be in bed by 21:30

    Now, that really scares me!

    Tuesday, February 17, 2004

    Scandinavian Airlines-an Object Lesson in Management Motivational Techniques

    Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), like many other airlines around the world, have been having a tough time recently. Sales revenues have fallen as a result of a number of factors, including:

    · The world economic slowdown

    · Declining travel due to the impact of 9/11, and repeated terrorist threats

    · Competition from cheap fare budget airlines.

    In response to the decline in revenues, SAS have been looking for ways to save money. One particular initiative was to ask their loyal staff to take a pay cut of 10%.

    One the face of it this, if the situation warrants it, is a sensible measure. Far better for individual members of staff to take home less in their pay packets, than to find themselves un-employed.

    However, although the pay cuts were to be for all levels of staff from the most junior to the most senior; there was a glaring anomaly, which made this gesture of communal Scandinavian self sacrifice not as altruistic as it first may appear.

    For you see the senior management were, despite the fact that the airline is losing money, still going to receive their bonuses; which, in some individual cases, would be more than the salaries of some of the lower ranks. It would seem that some, as the saying goes, “are more equal than others”.

    This cost cutting measure has not, from what I understand, been enough. It seems that the staff at the call centre office in Stockholm have been told that it will be closed. They have not, at the time of writing, yet been told what will happen to their jobs or what severance pay they will receive if there is no alternative offer of employment.

    Needless to say morale in the office has hit an all time low, uncertainty over the future of your job is a very soul destroying emotion.

    Recognising this SAS senior management, in their infinite wisdom, organised a meeting on the 12th of February. The hapless staff, needless to say, should have been given some more factual information about their fate.

    Apparently, this was not the case. Instead they were treated to a course on how to handle personal crises and the effects of stress, eg loss of sleep and anxiety. These effects they are undoubtedly aware of already; although maybe the directors of SAS have yet to feel any stress, and would have benefited from attending the course instead.

    However, the ever sympathetic and employee focussed management of SAS did show some empathy towards their employees. It being so close to Valentines’ day, they gave each member of staff a piece of Valentines cake.

    Now there’s an example of a great management motivational technique!