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Weekend Over OT

by afew Tue Dec 16th, 2014 at 01:52:44 AM EST


Yes, this is the end of the weekend.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Dec 16th, 2014 at 01:54:14 AM EST
Back to France next Wednesday for 4 weeks home leave. I need it!

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Dec 16th, 2014 at 12:08:45 PM EST
By the way, I will be in Edinburgh from January 20 to 23. Anybody around?

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Dec 16th, 2014 at 12:10:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Particularly at your age.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Dec 16th, 2014 at 12:14:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is, for once, not a matter of opinion. Bing works, while Google times out. This has been going on for over an hour.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Dec 17th, 2014 at 07:26:57 AM EST
What search?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Dec 17th, 2014 at 07:31:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't even get to that point.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Dec 17th, 2014 at 07:44:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As a cruel Christmas present from my company, I and my closest colleagues are about to be outsourced under the most curious circumstances, which make little economical or technical sense but make a lot of sense from another viewpoint.

As you may remember for years my relatively independent company branch has been struggling through restructurings which invariably meant cutbacks. Lack of investment, above all into acquiring certain certifications which our extra-company customers increasingly demand, put us in the red, which was the justification for the latest and most brutal restructuring back in July. But we didn't give up: that exhausting job for a big customer in November put us in the breakeven zone for this year, already agreed further jobs for the same customer alone would have guaranteed profitability next year. What's more, that visit of the German-speakers I wrote about was for a review, one that at last resulted in an international certification.

However, apparently, none of that counted, and we are to be dissolved no matter what. And it all went in the most curious fashion:

  • We weren't consulted at all about our future. What's more, the manager responsible for us rebuffed any attempts by my boss for a proper talk (he wouldn't even let him into his office).
  • We were on the kill list last time around already, but those parts of the company whom management has to consult objected. So to pass it under their radar this time, the decision was tucked away in the company's 2015 business plan as a short sentence without specifics.
  • In that sentence, the new justification is that "these services are no longer necessary". This seems to be based on the fact that we did no paid intra-company jobs in the last half-year. Then again, just in the last few weeks, we were called as experts in a multi-million euros lawsuit against a supplier and I dare say we made a significant contribution tilting the balance in the company's favour.
  • But when management consulted a trade union we alerted, they again trotted out the (no longer valid) justification that we keep making big losses.
  • A few months earlier, our plans to purchase some new instruments have finally been approved. However, two weeks ago someone called the suppliers behind our backs to cancel the orders, at a point when the instruments were already delivered to the warehouse in Hungary. An email from an outraged supplier was our first definite information about our (lack of) future.

Most curiously, we got a visit from the boss of a certain limited company. It's a company that was outsourced from my (state) company some 15 years ago and is still 98% owned by it, but it's for-profit and quite autonomous. Its boss is not the typical post-1989 entrepreneur insofar as he is investing heavily into state-of-the-art equipment and expanding into foreign markets, but quite typical in severely over-charging customers, 'saving' a lot on wages and requiring bad working conditions, and apparently having a network for back-room deals (and that under changing managements and governments). The Ltd. boss claimed he has been out of the loop about management decisions for months, except
  • it was he whom the manager tasked with an audit (one without paper trail!) that was the basis of the firings in July;
  • those who were fired in July all had jobs for which the Ltd. has under-occupied men;
  • on two occasions employees of the Ltd. photographed our
equipment as if to size it up;
  • the Ltd. boss came to us with quite specific ideas about how to re-employ (part of) us and our equipment;
  • as we learnt later, the Ltd. boss visited us on the same day the top management met to finally approve the annual plan that included our dissolution.

The Ltd. boss wants us because he sees profits down the line, so he benefits. The state company could have had those profits itself and (if things go as the Ltd. boss suggested) it will now have to pay more for our services, so it doesn't benefit. Whether individual managers benefit, I don't know.

So that's how it is. So far the only official information we received (today) is that everyone is to attend a meeting on the first workday in January. If management will do it like in July, we'll be told to not return for work from the next day.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Dec 17th, 2014 at 12:28:10 PM EST
I keep saying that many of the bad decisions in my state company are actually due to managers brought in from the private economy who have no clue about the technical complexities and inter-dependencies of a railway and have been selected foremost for their willingness to fulfil IMF-advised austerity plans by firing people.

Sadly, the pattern doesn't quite hold for the manager who killed us: this guy climbed the hierarchy from a normal railway job and has technical knowledge. But as manager he is apparently an unscrupulous careerist, and he did worse than killing us: he is also abolishing the company branch he himself came from, firing several technical experts in the process. (He tried to delegate the latter: the branch boss was forced into retirement, and his successor was told that his sole job will be the firings. That successor told thanks but no thanks and returned to his old job.) These firings are even more senseless than ours. The more charitable version is that this is to please the CEO (an accountant...) who thinks the railway can be operated without experts who step in when something goes wrong.

Also, this manager is no change to his non-railway "imported" peers in heading a bureaucracy at the headquarters that would be a much better target for cost-saving measures. I mean lots of people in jobs like purchasing, accounting, controlling, compliance or legal matters who are busy running through the corridors with files but need four months to sign off a 1000-word contract that is mostly copy-and-paste standard text. A colleague of us who was fired in July and accepted an intra-company new job offer there got the enmity of the new colleagues for doing what they do in half a year in two weeks.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Dec 17th, 2014 at 12:30:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have to share the cleverness of my spell-checker:

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Dec 17th, 2014 at 12:32:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So sorry to hear that DoDo. What a waste... hopefully something will come along which will allow you to express your many talents better.

Why you are not on some high EU transport planning committee drawing up more intelligent solutions is beyond me.

Or do a full-on train geek blog?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Dec 18th, 2014 at 12:38:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ahhh, this ill-advised, sick world. (What rotten humanity goes along with such bullshit.)

Best wishes for the uncertain future, DoDo.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Dec 17th, 2014 at 12:48:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Best of luck and dust off the cv.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Dec 18th, 2014 at 01:43:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Railways don' need no steenkin' engineers, it's a well-known fact.

That's shitty news, DoDo. I hope you can find something that's commensurate with your very considerable abilities - at least, something that pays you properly and doesn't poison your life!

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 18th, 2014 at 02:21:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry to hear. It's been a long way coming, by this and earlier accounts you've given. I hope you can move on to greener pastures.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Dec 18th, 2014 at 09:13:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Regarding long in coming, here is a funny detail. The previous manager's attitude wasn't any better, that is, until after years he accepted an invitation to visit us at work. (Invited so that he finally sees what we do and what prospects it has instead of tossing documents away unread.) He was impressed. He was so impressed that within weeks he finally approved our investment plan. Unfortunately, this was again a few weeks before a management change at the behest of the Fidesz government, and the first thing the new management did was to stop all investment.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 18th, 2014 at 01:47:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wealth creators in action, alas. Blessed is their hard work and risk taking.

I was working on a positive attitude the last weeks :-]

by das monde on Thu Dec 18th, 2014 at 06:29:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry to hear this.

No chance of spinning it of as a workers owned company? You seem to have customers outside (since you reached break-even without paid intra-company work) and expertise they will have to pay for down the line. Well maybe capital requirements prevents it, just wanted to throw it out there.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Dec 19th, 2014 at 04:34:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We did consider that, but capital requirements is one insurmountable obstacle, another is a rather weak bargaining position vs. the railway (for our job we need the cooperation of several branches of the company, including ones under the same manager who is getting rid of us). Also note that if we continue in whatever form, we can't transfer and will have to re-acquire that international certification.

For now I agree with my boss that we should first wait and see what specific employment offer that Ltd. boss will make towards us. He has no men with the expertise of any of our remaining team (he can't use our equipment or analyse data or write reports to customers without us), so we are not entirely powerless to make demands (like no major wage cuts). Add to that that there would be one definite positive change: this guy is willing to approve significant investment and see a return in as long as two years (of course financed by his overcharging of the state company who wouldn't invest in us directly, but whatever). But who knows, he may still opt to kick us out of his room if we don't accept a 50% wage cut.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Dec 19th, 2014 at 06:04:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Dec 17th, 2014 at 04:42:23 PM EST
Police in northern Wyoming say a rifle discharged after a dog apparently stepped on it, injuring a 46-year-old man.

Johnson County Sheriff Steve Kozisek says the bullet struck Richard L. Fipps, of Sheridan, in the arm on Monday.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Dec 19th, 2014 at 09:52:12 AM EST

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