Tesco's electronic armbands and Lady Gaga's hip: it’s the shirkers vs workers debate all over again

Let it be known: sticking it to the boss man is a full-time job requiring a genuine sense of vocation. Plus: what will we do without our supermarket snobberies?

Share
Related Topics

Lady Gaga has probably never worked as a forklift driver for Tesco but, if she did, she might just be the greatest forklift driver who ever graced the warehouse floor. The pop star’s admirable work ethic was confirmed this week when it was revealed that she continued to dance on tour, despite a severe joint inflammation, out of a sense of obligation to her fans. The same condition has now forced her to cancel her remaining tour dates and undergo hip surgery. “I hope you can forgive me, as it is nearly impossible for me to forgive myself,” she wrote on Facebook.

Meanwhile, back on the warehouse floor, Tesco is mysteriously struggling to elicit similar levels of self-sacrificing dedication from its staff. According to a former employee, managers have resorted to making workers wear electronic armbands that measure how hard they’re working, in a bid to improve productivity. Workers who take more than 25 minutes a day in unscheduled breaks (e.g. going to the toilet) can be penalised.

If the intention is to catch out shirkers, it’s all but doomed to fail. Actual shirkers (as opposed to disabled people, the recently redundant and people nipping to the loo for five minutes for a cry) are a misunderstood minority whose perspective has been largely lost in the welfare reform debate. As anyone who’s ever tried to “look busy” for a full seven-hour shift knows, the amount of energy and ingenuity expended in avoiding an honest day’s work is roughly equivalent to two or three honest days’ work.

Let it be known: sticking it to the boss man is a full-time job, requiring a strong sense of vocation. Shirkers are unlikely to be foxed by an electronic armband.

For most of us, it’s far less labour intensive to just do an honest day for honest pay – with the honesty of the day directly proportionate to the honesty of the pay. And what of those over-achievers like Lady Gaga, who go above and beyond the contractually required? What motivates them?

If they’re lucky, it’s a passion for their work and a large pay packet, but also it’s a sense of respectful duty between employee and employer – in Gaga’s case, her fans. Admittedly, this kind of mutual respect might seem a quaint notion in the post-Workfare world, but treating adult employees like naughty school truants is a sure-fire way to destroy any that remains.

The aisles of unwisdom

Any Tesco customers motivated to swap their brand allegiance by the news of these employment practices can join the back of the (5 items or less) queue. The horsemeat scandal has left supermarket shoppers of all stripes questioning the beliefs they once held certain. Time was, everyone knew Sainsbury’s was for no-longer-hip-or-young professionals, M&S was for those who mistakenly believed themselves too posh for Sainsbury’s, Lidl’s eccentric stock offered an outlet for frustrated creative types, and Tesco was for people who lived near a Tesco.

Now that even sainted Waitrose has withdrawn from sale “beef” meatballs that turned out to be part pork, all our handy, snobby shortcuts are rendered useless. Are Waitrose shoppers not, in fact, morally superior to everyone else?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US  

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Robert Fisk
 

Next they'll say an independent Scotland can't use British clouds...

Mark Steel
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape