We're taking a bit of a breather while the world rearranges its underpants. Meanwhile, the other blog is here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I have been a stranger in a strange land

I've been asked why I've not written much of dear old Reggie Clockwatcher lately: "a barmpot of that calibre shouldn't be ignored!" True enough, but sadly the poor old thing is no longer with us. His post was deleted during the reshuffle and he was offered a retirement package that he would have been cutting his nose off to spite his face to refuse but which was designed more for dignity than renumeration. The one policy of self-censorship I impose on this blog is the discussion of individuals' personnel issues so I won't detail how the dignity was leached out in the process. Reggie may be an idiot but he is a well-meaning idiot and deserved better.

One of the other unhappy consequences of the reorganisation is personal uncertainty about jobs and roles as people find that large parts of the work they've been doing for the past decade are assigned to new posts as yet unfilled. This is made the more galling as great play was made of "keeping the staff who are affected informed," which involved getting all the Assistant Librarians in a room and telling them the new structure. The Assistant Librarians were the only people whose jobs weren't being fiddled about with in the process. One of my colleagues found that nearly all the work he'd been doing for the previous twelve years was now assigned to the post that sort of replaced Reggie. When he queried it he was told: "it's nothing to do with you: you'll be carrying on as you are now." Like he said:

"If that means I'll be carrying passengers being paid PO7 instead of PO3 then you can get stuffed."

At close of play one day after a month's worth of emails to T.Aldous and Harry Presto (the then head of service) and a couple of emails from the union, T.Aldous popped into my colleague's office.

"I'm starting to pick up the impression that you're not very happy about the reorganisation. I'm very sensitive that way."

"I'm bloody furious about the reorganisation and I'm pig sick of being told it's nothing to do with me."

"Well, as you know, I was on leave the week it was announced so I had nothing to do with it: that was all Harry's work."

Anyway, it got worse and worse, until it got to the point where he was working to his job description (an execrably sketchy thing written on the back of a fag packet by Shagger Noakes) just before the first of last year's inspections. What he describes as "a rolling temporary modus vivendi" was negotiated, though uncertainty still reigned. A combination of all that plus two years' worth of doing his job and a load of Reggie's in our wonderfully organised and supportive working environment finally got to him recently and he was off work for a bit over a month with stress. He'd been back less than a week when T.Aldous popped into his office and, inter alia, said:

"We need to get sickness levels down, they're still unacceptably high."

Afterwards, I asked him what he replied.

"Any response would have involved one or both of us being sectioned."

I guess that the causal relationship between poor personnel management and workplace stress levels don't figure highly in the library school curriculum.

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