Friday 17 June 2011


My brother is being made redundant today, after twenty three years with the same firm. I, myself, was made redundant three years ago after twenty four years with Social Services. My brother is losing his job because it is more profitable to rent out the land than it is to make beer. I was made redundant because the department I worked in was judged to have too many staff.
My brother tells me that there has been a general feeling of satisfaction about the plant closing; that the workforce did their best. The last week has been a celebration of all those years of making beer, many more years than he has worked there. The fabled brewery bar, long ago closed for health and safety reasons, was open for business yesterday and will finally close today when the last person leaves.
I cannot help but contrast that with my own redundancy process. I was part of the first wave of local authority redundancies; there was no celebration, just a vague feeling of embarrassment on the part of my colleagues. We quietly left in the middle of the afternoon, as it has turned out, the first of many to be “let go”.
The whole redundancy process struck me as being unreal. I wrote this after attending a “consultation” day when our ideas would “be listened to”:
“Give Them a Nice Cheap Treat.”
We gather in a cut rate room,
I cannot vote with my feet,
My tongues tastes the gloom
Of this cardboard cut-out consultation.
So we jump through the hoops
With a shambling resignation,
Keep to our designated groups
As every word we write is measured,
Against some secret plan.
Their outcome is assured
For this day is a total sham.
I always intended to revisit it but never had. If I’m honest, it doesn’t seem worth the effort. By the end I was glad to be going. I did not look back.
My brother has already got another job, thanks to the last Tory government’s decision to stop apprenticeship schemes there is a shortage of skilled tradesmen. I can’t help wonder what the legacy of this present government will be.

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