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You friggin what?

An egregious freeze on pay for more than 2 million public sector workers should be reversed, not least because the cliched picture of the feather-bedded civil servant is exposed as being even less accurate than usual when a pandemic hits.

There are very few corners of the public sector that have not worked hard over the past eight months. To hold up nurses as more deserving than the police, social workers, teachers and firefighters is something only a blinkered chancellor could do.

Near all teachers were on at least part time furlough. That’s working hard is it?

32 thoughts on “You friggin what?”

  1. The public sector wouldn’t know “working hard” if it bit them on the ass. The vast majority are lazy jobsworths who won’t do the slightest thing outside of the narrow remit they imagine their job to be. Managers can’t be arsed to chase them so it doesn’t change.

    Is everyone like this? Well, no, of course not. Just the good one’s realise quickly what a shit show it is and either leave or give in an join the rest and not care.

  2. MrKing

    I briefly worked in the MoD after leaving school (this is the mid-80s). I realised what a shitshow it was very quickly and decamped to University ( or as the old proverb should go, from out of the dung heap into the slurry pit). When I applied to college, I had to take some papers to the old County Hall in London. I had to wait at the counter because some scouser who was supposed to man the desk spent twenty minutes on the phone organising a strike.

  3. ‘the cliched picture of the feather-bedded civil servant is exposed as being even less accurate than usual when a pandemic hits’

    [citation needed]

  4. I was admitted for a spot of day surgery last week, so had occasion to see the gross overmanning of the NHS at first hand. Shown to a bed, told to undress and wait four hours. There were by my estimate 3 or 4 nurses per patient on the ward. The overnight beds were all occupied, the day beds only about 25%.
    The cause is the proliferation of nurse specialists. One to take BP, another for dispensing pills, another for this, and that… So each nurse probably only works about 5 – 10 minutes per hour.
    The theatre had at least 8 people in it. Although I couldn’t see them all, lying on my front, but they didn’t sound like medical students.

  5. The same set who were demanding total, unending, lockdown and the subsequent decimation of the private sector now want the private sector to cough up so they can all get pay rises? Yeah they can foxtrot oscar…

  6. Like Ottokring, I worked in the MOD, though posted there as a serving soldier. My office had a rep for the civil service union, the CPSA, who seemed to base his abilities on Fred Kite. During a heated (by him) discussion, over civilian staff refusing to do more than the minimum necessary, leaving the military staff having to do 2 jobs, I referred to the civil service union as the PDSA.
    I was posted shortly afterwards, much to my delight.
    Many years later, when the SLR was replaced, the new rifle was nicknamed ‘the Civil Service’ because they didn’t work as they should and you couldn’t fire it.

  7. Penseivat: ’… the new rifle was nicknamed ‘the Civil Service’ because they didn’t work as they should and you couldn’t fire it.’


  8. Luckily I can’t remember much about my time at the MoD, but there was one episode that sticks:

    Group Captain Farnsbarns rings and I happen to pick up the phone, he then launches into a tirade about his mens’ transportation. My response is to shrug my soldiers and tell him, “I’m dreadfully sorry Group Captain, there’s really not much I can do about it.”
    “You a civilian?”
    “Got an RAF man there ?”
    Hand phone to Lance Corporal Bloggs (RAFR) who then proceeds to sit to attention and change colour at least three times, like a chameleon. He then ran off as if his arse was on fire to the (rather lazy) Squadron Leader, who shouted at him for being made to ring the Gp Capt and promise to fix the problem . I felt really sorry for him, he was just massively bollocked by two senior officers for some cock up by a civvy in another office from weeks before ( my office had actioned the request, but “Ve vere only obeying orders.” )

  9. And are the firefighters really working harder than normal?

    Then there’s the police – are they deserving of danger pay for going out and stopping people exercising by themselves in public?

    Oh, and let’s talk about the doctors and nurses. Those hospitals aren’t operating to capacity. There’s a moderate increase in patients. So, how extra hard, *really*, are they working? Like really – not the social signalling ‘you’re a hero’ bullshit.

    Finally, he, of course, ignores all the other civil servants, of who the police/fire/medical/teachers are a tiny percentage of. How hard are the Health and Safety people working? How hard are the Diversity Coordinators working?

  10. As a sage observed, the civil servants and teachers should all have been put on 80% wages until the lockdowns are finished. Local government pen-pushers too?

  11. Bloke in North Dorset

    “New rifle also nicknamed Bob Marley as it was always jamming”

    It came in just I left but all the PR was that it would work in all conditions, could be dropped in the mud, picked up and fired and that cleaning would be quick and easy.

    Another great MoD procurement contract.

  12. Not a public sector worker myself, not by a long shot; but public-facing workers (both public sector and private) could have made a demand for “danger money” at the start of the pandemic. Too late now though: if they’ve survived this far, then by definition they were not in danger.

  13. @BiND

    I read an article about the AK-47 which included a story from a US soldier in vietnam who recounted coming across a dead enemy who had clearly been dead for some time and had been decomposing all over his AK-47. After washing it in a nearby steam, the soldier said it worked perfectly.

  14. So Much For Subtlety

    Andrew C November 29, 2020 at 7:24 pm – “After washing it in a nearby steam, the soldier said it worked perfectly.”

    There is a picture of an AK-47 floating about that shows one captured in Afghanistan. Built around the 1950s – so one of the first I guess. Rusted. Dented. Held together with wire.

    Still worked.

  15. Amazing to think that we’d already developed a robust and reliable bullpup infantry rifle just after WWII.

    British EM-2: The Best Cold War Battle Rifle that Never Was

    Of course, that was designed and put together by people with recent relevant experience. The team for the later (mechanically unrelated) implementation of the concept had none. Literally none. No firearms engineering or handling knowledge.

    I think the army has sorted it now.

  16. I think the army has sorted it now.

    The A2 mod which came in around ’01/’02 dealt with most of the reliability issues; beefed up springs, redesigned extractor, bolt and hammer.

  17. Didn’t they have to get H&K in to fix it? The debacle reminds me of the American practice of having teachers who studied ‘teaching’ at university, instead of the individual subjects, with a PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education) as is common, over here.

  18. SMFS,

    The problem is that the AK47 is Not Made Here. A public domain design that can be bought from hundreds of suppliers doesn’t create work for BAE or whoever, which is 80+% of the reason for military spending.

    If you look at what the market chooses, small businesses in various parts of the world wanting to defend their drug turf, it’s the AK47. It’s market evolution at its most profound. You know what rifle doesn’t work because they’re dead.

  19. MrKing,

    There’s a few people who are really dedicated to doing it. And if in a position of management, they often inspire those below them. I worked with an HR team at a council on a project, and they were great. I had meetings from like 6:30 to 7:30pm with the lead manager because she really wanted to do a progress update, but her diary was getting full. Could I do a meet? Was I OK with that?

    It’s the contrast that gets me. Another manager in the same organisation was useless, wasted money, seemed more interested in chatting up women than getting things done. But, same sort of grade.

  20. “The problem is that the AK47 is Not Made Here.”

    And the inaccuracy from loose tolerances and the rimmed cartridge.

  21. Weapon of choice for continental gangsters these days, apparently, is the AK-derived Serbian M10. Cheap, but still better built and more accurate than the Russian version. Bit like buying a Dacia over a Lada.

  22. Just a point from experience with the L85A1 & L85A2. Some personal experience, some wider knowledge.

    My first exposure to it was in 1990, when we were loaned some for the Cambrian Patrol; and they were horrible. Rifles shouldn’t rattle when you shake them, and when fifteen of us fired fifty rounds apiece we had several suffer failures (anything from handguards falling off, to a gas plug disappearing downrange). The one virtue they had was accuracy: folk who’d struggle to get half their shots on a Figure 11 at 300m were putting most of them into the same target at 400 metres.

    These were early versions lent by the Royal Anglians, and they had sent us their worst examples to get them written off; the early production of the L85A1 was done at the old Enfield works on worn-out machinery, by agency staff (a lot of them apparently garment workers learning how to assemble rifles on the job…) in order to get Royal Ordnance fit for sale to British Aerospace. The early Enfield versions generated the same bad press as the first XM16 rifles sent to Vietnam.

    Most of the L85A1 production was done at Nottingham, in a new factory with up-to-date tooling, and the difference was dramatic: the rifle remained scary accurate, but was now reliable and robust (on UK ranges, at least). Hence, why units were unofficially (then, officially) getting rid of Enfield models to get Nottingham replacements.

    It got quite political in the late 1990s with a lot of ill-informed complaining about how the L85A1 didn’t work, had never worked, could never work, the evil Labour government hated our troops and wanted them to die rather than giving them M16s or Steyr AUGs or H&K G36 (sort of skipping over the fact that the rifle had been adopted in the 1980s under Thatcher…)

    This led to Heckler & Koch (then owned by British Aerospace) getting a contract to tweak the rifle to L85A2 standard, which tackled issues like spring tensions, the shape of the cocking handle and so on. This tested out as very reliable in the UK, a typical testimonial being “We conducted everything from single-man close-quarter battle all the way up through to section attacks, troop attacks, company and everything, and 110 men had fired approximately between 3,500 rounds and 4,200 rounds each. We had five stoppages, four of them were down to the firer.” (though, so was the -A1), but complaints that “it was a fix, it’s a lie, the rifle can’t work” meant a major comparative trial was undertaken in the UK, Alaska (arctic), Brunei (jungle) and Kuwait (desert) alongside “rivals of popular choice” (redacted for commercial reasons – the suppliers didn’t want shortcomings shouted about – but believed to be some or all of M16 family, Steyr AUG, H&K G36 and AK-74) where the L85A2 demonstrated better reliability than the other options – for the worst environment (desert) the mean rounds between failure averaged 7,875.

    This was of course taken as further proof of it all being fixed, especially when Op JACANA kicked off and Royal Marines were seeing action in arid bits of Afghanistan and reporting stoppages with their brand-new L85A2s. Lt Col Frazer Haddow RM, a Falklands veteran, put together a “trial of truth” to investigate the problem, on a seriously extreme “dusty conditions” evaluation.

    The first finding was that the Marines were indeed getting stoppages: which was a surprise, until it turned out that they were rejecting the official guidance and training for cleaning and maintaining their weapons, using a local policy of “don’t use any oil at all, oil attracts dust and makes it stick”. It literally was as simple as “lightly oil the working parts the way you’re supposed to” virtually eliminating stoppages – from only two of twelve firers being able to complete a 150-round “battlefield mission” without a stoppage with “dry” rifles, to a 95% success rate when they oiled the mechanism. (The “rival of popular choice” – unofficially a M16 – achieved only 47%, and L85A1 used as a control achieved well over 80%)

    The fact that even L85A1 was more reliable than the M16 surprised some (apparently when ATDN talked to some of the original hot/dry trials team from the 1980s, they said “that’s what we found too, but no-one believed us”) but others remembered the variation in performance seen in the 1991 Gulf War – some units who’d gone with the “oil traps dust” folklore found problems, others who’d followed the guidance (clean the weapon then oil generously in dusty conditions) had working weapons.

    Iraq 2003 put a stake in the heart of most of the complaints from the military: folk serving in multinational divisions did notice, even on the ranges, that they were doing rather less cock-hook-look than their partners with M16s (Danes, Dutch) and AUGs (Australians). Meanwhile, the US were discovering that their M4 carbine had significant issues in Iraqi sand: while the L85 was averaging 7,500 rounds between stoppages in dust trials, the M4 was managing 74…

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