Secretarial: The Temp: Time for action

THERE'S GOING to be no work done this lunch time because Heartstone Futures have announced, after sacking 20 per cent of the staff last month, that their jobs are to be shared out among everyone left, increasing their workload by 25 per cent. The chairman and the chief executive have, coincidentally, received 17 per cent pay rises.

Management are using phrases like "tough decisions", "global recession", "if you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem".

The employees, meanwhile, with the prospect of seeing less of their families, more of each other and no change to their pay packets, have called a union meeting.

I'm a great believer in the union movement, but have never had the opportunity either to join one or to attend a meeting, there being no union for downtrodden temporary workers (and if there were, I'm not sure what we'd discuss: the plenty-more-where-you-came-from rule, perhaps?), so I was thrilled when Candy suggested I might want to come and watch.

I should have remembered that we live in an age where The Strawbs' satire on Seventies workforce obduracy, "Part of the Union", is used, seemingly without irony, as an advertising jingle for personal pensions.

Sally, union rep, waited until everyone had stopped gossiping, then said: "Well, we've a lot to get through. Does anyone want to kick off the debate on the new proposals?" and a profound silence fell. Nobody, it seemed, wanted to stand out. Finally, someone put their hand up and Sally gave him the floor.

"I think we should vote on whether to discuss the matter," he said to the group.

"Thanks, Ken," said Sally. "Does anyone want to second that?"

A young woman put her hand up.

"OK, thanks, Jan. All in favour?"

"No," said Jan, "I wasn't seconding. I was going to say that it was a waste of time to vote on it." About 15 people heaved sighs.

"Good point," said Sally. "But it's been proposed now, and if we start a debate on whether or not to vote on this, we'll never get to debate the proposals."

"Oh, yeah," said Jan. "Then I might as well just second it, then."

Everyone in voted in favour. Finally, Ken stood up and started the ball rolling.

"I think it's a disgrace," he said. "They can't seriously expect us to take this lying down. I work more than my contracted hours as it is. We must do something."

"Anyone else?" said Sally.

"Yes." A lad with spots over by the kitchen hatch stuck his hand up. "I just want to say that they can't be allowed to treat us like this. I don't want to work extra hours for no more money, and I'm sure nobody else does, either."

And then the floodgates opened. Once a couple of people had had their say, everyone, it seemed, wanted to repeat them. The clock ticked away over Sally's head as voice after voice was added to the consensus: "It's a disgrace." "They can't get away with it." "I'm not paid enough as it is."

Lunch hour came to an end, and people started looking at their watches. And on droned the downtrodden: "My wife never sees me as it is"; "I worked 50 hours a week last month"; "Do they think we're machines?"

And I realised that the function of democracy in the Nineties is to give everyone so much opportunity to get their voice heard that they never have the time to take any action. Finally, people started edging toward the door, surreptitiously slipping their coats on, and Sally decided to call a halt.

"OK," she said. "So we take a vote on whether to take a ballot on whether to get the Electoral Reform society to run an official ballot on whether we censure the company. All those in favour? Against?

Motion carried.

"Now!" she yelled at the retreating backs, "we've some business left over from last time. If you remember, we had to stop before we could vote on whether to put the procedures in effect to take a ballot on censuring the company over the redundancies. Anyone got anything to add? No? OK, All those in... yes, Jack, you had

something to say...?"

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture