The 1st of February is a day so comically aligned with the disenchanted masses it is acknowledged as “National Sick Day”.
‘So what?’ I hear you murmur. Well, let’s try and put this in perspective: absence without proper leave is said to cost UK business anywhere between 10 billion and 29 billion pounds, a hefty wedge. The current government’s solution is to make cuts at the heart of British society, the NHS being the most obvious victim, with cuts reported to range around 20 billion.
Agencies have sprung up with offers to track and manage absenteeism. Fair play, they’ve noticed a problem and tried to fix it while making some cash for their effort. Good, good.
But if we want perspective, perhaps we should look at what happens to cause this phenomenon. There are the classics: poor pay rate, lack of decent holiday, zero-hour contracts and a one-way glass ceiling you will never break through. Up ahead, all you see is darkness, while the suits scornfully mock us feebly trying to survive, in an all-too-Orwellian big brother style. Being disenfranchised with the mega corps shiting all over you is more than enough reason to flip them the occasional bird and concentrate on your life. A moment’s respite from the crap they’ve been shoveling down our throats for decades.
And in striving for this true sight of perspective, it’s impossible to ignore the latest way corporations have chosen to rub our noses in it: illegal corporate tax avoidance. Did you know that the UK loses out on almost £70bn a year? That’s right, those very groups bitching about unauthorized absence have in fact committed the very same crime on an massively larger scale.
And they should expect a strongly worded letter or two, right? Surely the Chancellor is on that? Surely he wouldn’t allow the little guy to be persecuted while letting corporations get away with it? Surely he’s created his very own ‘Untouchables death squad’?
More like the ‘Unfortunately not squad’, as in ‘unfortunately we are not doing a bloody thing to stamp out gross acts of corporate greed and chicanery’. In fact, we are firing 12,000 people. Can’t risk the people finding out about the heavy levels of theft and fraud being committed by Fortune 500 CEOs and the Times Rich List. That would never do. Let’s sack a load of them instead.
‘Perish the race and wither a thousand women’, said George Bernard Shaw. He also talked of ‘a child-robber, a bloodsucker, a hypocrite, and a cheat’. Who could he have been referring to?