Now then, yesterday the pubs across England (not all of them) were allowed to reopen. Been three months since this was the case. The media has been projecting this as some sort of massive reason to celebrate, that we should all forget the ills of the world , dust off our glad rags and head out to enjoy ourselves and rescue the economy via having a bad head on the Sunday morning. Actually, it seems to me that the reality has been somewhat different.
Obviously I can only speak for Sheffield as that is where I live. Over the last week or so the subject of pubs has been the main topic of conversation, mostly amongst the older people, and, the overriding view has been one of suspicion. Firstly people have been wary of the usual misbehaviour that one can associate with the English and pubs. That is not an unreasonable thing to say, just a realistic one. England likes to try and pretend that it doesn't have these problems, well, you and me know differently. I'm old enough to remember when "bouncers" were not required on the doors of pubs, the very fact that they even exist is rather damning, in my view. Town centre pubs are actually places that don't even come in for consideration on the odd occasion I want to go for a pint.
Secondly, and more encouragingly, people have genuine concerns regarding the safety of going to the pub. Many simply think it is far too early from the point of view of the virus. This shows me how very out of touch those who take such decisions really are. I honestly see that the bulk of the public do not want pubs to reopen. I have heard conversations in the local shop, on the street, and whilst waiting inline outside the barbers for two hours yesterday morning. Amongst those who like to bet on the horses on a Saturday afternoon, or would likely be at the football, those who play golf on a Sunday morning, all across the piece most people have been saying the same things.
One woman made a very good point to me by asking me "how come the pubs can open but the playgrounds on the park cannot?" This I cannot come up with an answer for.
The entire hospitality sector annoys me greatly. It is nothing but an open slave labour based cash generating environment. Thing is, that cash usually ends up in the enormous
personal fortune of one or two people. Pay and conditions right across it are appalling. It exists by cashing in on the desperation of mainly younger people, students etc, who are trying to build lives and are actually mainly altruistic at heart. Young people who may be trying to live by themselves or set up with partners. Therefore the money they earn from working in pubs or hotels, or from flitting about with plates of expensive food becomes critical to them. They see no other way to be in charge of their own lives . The owners of these hospitality industry outlets are the only ones who win.
I have recent personal experience of working in a well thought of local hotel. I like to work nights, in that particular establishment the rate for nights is the same as for days. This is a perfect example of the accepted practice within hospitality. Those working within it see it as "just the way it is". They have become conditioned to it. There is no such thing as unsocial hours payments. A lot of the time days off are not even in twos, you could be off Monday and Thursday, again, this is just casually accepted. This is deeply worrying to me. I spent years as a union rep in a proper industrial environment. I am fully aware of the immense struggles that took place over many years to enable such things as unsocial hours payments to come into being. Yet we have the watering down of these hard won payments being swept along by cashing in on the desperation of altruistic youngsters. Youngsters who do not know any better. They are not the villains.
Wetherspoons springs to mind. It most likely is no different to any of the other pub chains. However, its owner Tim Martin had a lot to say at the start of the lockdown so I see it as only right that he and his pubs are highlighted. I had a conversation with one of his employees who has worked for him for years in the north of England. This person is quite happy, working as a "Shift leader" and earning above £10 ph. This person though does dismiss the importance of such things as unsocial hours payments with the obligatory "it's just how it is in pubs" view. I say, "it's just how it should not be". go here
Mr Martin was busily unveiling plans to reopen his pubs back in April, with an intention for them all to open during June, all this long before any scientific or indeed Governmental advice to do so. It is only correct that he is seen in the same light as Ashley or Green. Martin, a long time backer of the Brexit party profited by in excess of £44M from the Tory GE victory. His net worth is estimated in the region of £448M.
Clearly Mr Martin , like Ashley and Green, is a maverick on the charge in pursuit of vast reservoirs of cash. Nothing else matters to him. £448M and still he drives relentlessly on. It seems that neither Government nor public opinion can have any affect on him. Or does it? Employees of his have appealed for members of the public not to boycott his pubs. This is understandable to a degree. As I outlined above, many of his employees are young and altruistic, the income they get from his employment is likely all that they get. It is cash upon which they rely, upon which they build their lives. There has even been an an announcement from a Trades Union asking people NOT to boycott his pubs.
This truly staggers me. Maybe i'm from the wrong generation. I have to be honest here and put forward that I would not use one of his outlets under any circumstances. This is for the same reasons I do not use McDonalds or JD Sports. Simply put, I will do my utmost to ensure they see none of my money. Much is made regarding Wetherspoons of the fact that they are unionising. Excuse me, I have to ask, how the hell do you expect to make any meaningful progress with Martin without at some point jeopardising his huge cash flow? Nothing will alter his single minded pursuit of cash. Affecting that is the only way you will ever get through to the likes of him. Truth is, if/when his profit is ever affected he will just shut them all down. Ruthless as you like that is what he will do.
Reality dictates that this needs to happen sooner rather than later. The longer it is allowed to go on,the more people can be lured into the poverty trap. Enabling young people to become dependant on a hand to mouth existence is not acceptable. The pill required to stop all this is indeed a bitter one. It will not happen. That creeping disease of the watering down of basic employment rights will gather pace. How long until night and day rates become aligned,(outside of hospitality) with the obvious caveat that it requires a general lowering all round. The message from unions and activists around here seems to be that industrial action without any actual industrial action is the way to go. It is entirely possible that they are correct. Looking at the attitude of Martin I am not so sure. People will continue to flock to his boozers, youngsters will continue to run about performing a very good service. Martins personal fortune will continue to grow.
Unions etc will continue to take no action. Truth is, any union that raised its head above the parapet would very quickly find itself consigned to history.
The public will not support them. Simple as that. The younger generations have not caused all this, in truth my generation stands accused of that. With the growing threat of ZHs and the obvious permanence of NMW things look to be dire for our youngsters for many decades to come. In fairness Unions would be the only way out. I do not understand how you can have a union that immediately puts on the table that they do not want the cash flow of the employer at risk. Maybe its just me eh ??
Thanks for looking in. Please help by spreading word.
Society not Economy.