In which I disagree with the Devil

No, no, thrice no.

Anyway, if only because the idea of watching a car-crash at a taxi firm amuses me, I might now go and find this programme on iPlayer.

It could be a car crash. It might actually work as well (my bet is on the latter).

But the result is irrelevant. It is the fact that the experiment is taking place which is important. For this is what we have a market economy for. So that we can all experiment not just with products or services but with methods of delivering them, methods of organisation, methods of ownership and yes, even experiment with whether baby shit and projectile vomiting increase or decrease the efficiency of a cab firm.

That is, we get to see whether Addison Lee works or not. And then other people, having seen the results of the experiment, can make up their own minds about whether it will work for them or not. Probably not for a symphony orchestra, almost certainly so for nursery staff.

I for one prefer this system to some fool with votes mandating that the entire country do this from the safety of their Portcullis House office……

15 thoughts on “In which I disagree with the Devil”

  1. Agree. Like the Devil, I’d rather ram a rusty spoon into my own eyes than work in such an office, but if the demographic at Addison Lee’s office is similar to that in many outer-London medium-company HR/admin/call centre type offices that I’ve visited, then I suspect it’ll go down well with the majority of staff.

  2. Definitely agree with Tim, and a rare faux pas for the Devil. In a nominally Free market, a firm should be able to undertake such an experiment, and if employees at said firm dislike it they can of course look elsewhere for employment.

    The one caveat is that with Miliband poised for government in 2015, we could well see this imposed on the entire country by people like Richard Murphy….

  3. Why go to the effort of having babies sitting on their parent’s lap whilst they work. Why doesn’t Addison Lee just provide a nursery care worker and a spare room out of the way. The parents can pop in as often as they like whilst their colleges aren’t bothered by any disruption.

  4. Yes, it is a (nominally) free market, and Addison Lee should certainly be allowed to try this experiment. It’s still a totally stupid idea. Aside from anything else, the parents are obviously doing less work than their colleagues, but I’d wager they’re not being paid less. Further, do the non-parents have an equivalent benefit? Again, I suspect not. So, as usual, parents gain twice over at the expense of non-parents.

    If the opportunity arose, I would make a point of not using this firm.

  5. As an experiment, I demand the right to try it, like I do with Free Schools or modifications in organisation, protocols, working practices, employment rules etc. in parts of the NHS.

    What happens if they work, or provoke a further change (an on-site nursery in this case) that works??? Argh!!! They have worked!

    If they don’t work, can them!

    Good grief, you English (I am by now an Honorary Spaniard, a title I wear with pride after the European Championships) are just sooooo conservative (and the Unions the world leaders).

    Try it, if it works offer the data for others, If it doesn’t , stuff it and make the data available to others.

    Mind you, and as Van Patten says, if it works and depending who is in government, it will become obligatory.

  6. The Pedant-General

    I’m not sure that DK is suggesting that it should not be allowed, merely that you would be insane to do it.

    “If the opportunity arose, I would make a point of not using this firm.”
    That seems a bit silly too. You are of course quite free to make that point. A more sensible approach would be not to change your opinion of it until some change in the service level or whatever causes you to do so. If there is projective vomit in the cars, then that would seem to be an excellent reason to avoid them. If there is constant screaming in the background when you try to call to make a booking that would too.

    that’s the mechanism by which they will come to see if things work or not.

  7. SadButMadLad,

    Why doesn’t Addison Lee just provide a nursery care worker and a spare room out of the way. The parents can pop in as often as they like whilst their colleges aren’t bothered by any disruption.

    Simple: once you do that, you’re classed as running a child-minding service or a nursery and a mountain of government regulations hits you.

  8. I don’t think that I was saying that AL shouldn’t try this—and you are quite right about them being free to do so.

    What I do object to is the entitlement culture of those with children.

    And you know darn well that, if this is a success, then it will be mandated by the guy in Whitehall—much along the same lines as “the right to ask for flexible working”.

    The real problem, of course, is the ludicrously high cost of childcare—which can be blamed on a huge number of factors, including (although not restricted to) endless checks and accreditations, degrees in caring, and frivolous lawsuits.


  9. DK

    Just reread your post and can see where you’re coming from – worked at a company which employed 40% Eastern Europeans with ‘younger’ demographic -when I left we had over 350 people on either Maternity/ Paternity Leave or Flexible working. I think the move of the rostering function to the ground floor of the building was partly a logistic one, and partly because on the second floor they might well have considered jumping….l

  10. I can’t see that many jobs where it would be practical to have a baby in the background. The only situation I can imagine it working is where the mother’s job mostly involves waiting for customers, perhaps a doctor’s receptionist or a very quiet shop. It certainly wouldn’t work in any normal busy office environment.

    For Addison-Lee however, if they can make it work within their business model then they can save quite a bit of money in reduced staff turnover and lower pay. (All things equal, jobs with more family-friendly perks pay less.)

  11. I misread Van Patten (#9) and thought he was talking about the “rogering service”.

    Given the number of mothers with babies, it must have been a very efficient one.

  12. Richard

    believe it or not the Rosterers (Or Resourcing function might have been better perhaps) used to say they were the ones getting Rogered…..

  13. where the mother’s job mostly involves waiting for customers, perhaps a doctor’s receptionist

    Or a leisure centre receptionist. Perhaps she could keep the baby in the drawer.

  14. Ah, the blessed joys of working in a factory environment. At least the idea of bringing in small children would get squashed flat – either that or the children probably would…

  15. Also curious about how this works with background checks and the definition of ‘working with children’. Do all their staff now have to be vetted and CRB checked?

    I didn’t like it at my last job when the other staff members and management occasionally brought their children (~12yrs old) in. The workplace is not a space for children, they just get underfoot and in the way – which is true in general, but I don’t spend time around kids as I can’t stand the buggers, so don’t have the problem.

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