Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Unemployment Up-Economy Improving

My Route to work - Reading - Hersham, Hersham - Reading
It was announced on the Beeb today that unemployment was up by "only" 28,000 to 2.67million. Click here to see the whole report.

This has prompted me to write about what it is like to be one of the lucky ones who still have a job. I have worked since 1989, with only 6 months off in 2010 when I was at Uni doing my MA. I have never known a period of such insecurity and fear for the average worker.

I ended my fulltime studies in 2011 and since starting work again in June I have been made redundant once already. When I started working again, in the teeth of the recession, the only full time job that matched my qualifications, 20 years of Sales and Marketing experience, 2 degrees in German and lots of business courses, was an hour away. As a family man this creates problems when my wife doesn't get home until 7pm. I got made redundant in December and after losing this job I found one which was between 1 1/2 to 2 hours away. It is a nightmare drive and as well as being an ecological nightmare, it also sends me round the bend.

My boss hasn't seen fit to give me any kind of contract or even assurance that my role is a permanent one. I see that many of those employed are working part time in insecure low skilled jobs. I would also argue that there are also a large number of workers, like me, who are not on contracts and who effectively their bosses can get rid off at no cost and with little conscience at any time.

Where I work everyone is on a short or weak or temp contract, this has had the effect of keeping the staff on a short leash and robbing them of any sense of solidarity with those, like public sector workers, who at least would qualify for redundancy or a pension. We are all just hanging on with our finger tips in Cameron's "everyone for themselves" economy.

My job is unstable and insecure, but this doesn't just effect me. I am married and have to lovely (ish) children. This job insecurity means we can't plan, can't think of the future and things can only be replaced if absolutely necessary.

The insecurity also weighs heavily on my wife. She is a teacher and thank heaven her job is moderately stable. But the pressure, my lack of a secure job puts on her is immense. So she works till 9pm most evenings, she gets out of bed at 5am and gets the 6.20am train to get to work. She is abused by parents and pressurised by management. She could be the sole McKenzie bread winner at any moment and she must over perform to make sure that we can always and still pay the mortgage.

The economy is dire, and even if you believe like cabinet ministers seem to, the jobs market might be stablising, ask yourself what are the jobs being made like.

The jobs being made seem, weak, insecure, and designed to stifle creativity and productivity. The so called stability which Cameron, Clegg and their Lib-Con colleagues have built has been made at the cost of splitting the ordinary workers, potentially wrecking family life and making ordinary men and women live in fear.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

OK I admit it- I like riding my bike

Ok I admit it I love riding my bike places. I am not a complete bike nut,. I still drive my car, but I love the sense of freedom it gives me.

I ride alot around Reading and alot around NW Surrey....Its a long story as to why, but I am surprised at how dangerous riding around Surrey feels. This is especially worrying because Surrey will host the Olympic cycle race.

My morning ride around Surrey takes me from my parents in Chertsey, through Addlestone, beyond Weybridge and on in to Hersham. A tidy 7 or 8 miles. Not too far, not too short.

Last week a woman in a black Audi, tried to run me over as she reversed out of her drive. She really did try and squash me, it was like she had radar and every time I tried to get out of her way she turned her car in my direction again. Then on the same journey a cab driver drove so close to me I could see his filings, well almost. Then there was the usual Weybridge set with their 4 x 4's who haven't seen abike before, apparently.

Its a nightmare add that to the fact that the roads are narrow, and drivers insist on driving in to the area reserved for cyclists at junctions I imagine I am now 10 years older with the worry.

But there is now an answer. The Times is running a new interactive map where all road users, including cyclists can highlight dangerous roads. It seems easy to use and a good way to gently release the mental energy built up after grappling with Surrey's cycle unfriendly roads.....

You can get to it here . Its not behind the paywall so everyone can contribute. Go on you know you want to.