Thursday, July 12, 2007

Supervising the Union Man

I have a Union Man on my staff. Before I go any further I want to explain... I am in a union myself, but I'm only in it for the group schemes and the bland bi-monthly magazine with pictures of vacuous executive grade civil servants on the front. I am not motivated by any left-wing ideology (I am a lefty, but far too lazy to be an activist). The Union Man is different. He attends meetings/ conferences and distributes ballot papers. He also adopts aspects of the "Union Man" stance towards management - i.e. never gives us a straight answer on anything.

The guy should be a politician. He is wasted as a civil servant. For instance, when I ask him a question, he manages to - albeit politely - not answer it at all. I can almost hear the tiny cogs in his brain whirring and clunking as he tries to remember the official union "line" on the exact matter I am asking him about, no matter how mundane and trivial - and we get a lot of mundane and trivial in the Civil Service, mark my words. I could ask something completely boring like, "How is that new filing system working out for you? Is it easier to find things now?" and get the response, "Eeeeeeh, weeeell, ummmm, sometimes it is, and, ahmmmmmmm, sometimes it isn't." On these occasions, I have to turn around very quickly to hide the broad grin that begins to spread across my face like the acne on his.

Specifics are not his forte and, once I get my face straight, I don't approach him for further details as I believe he is just trying to be awkward and piss me off. If he knew that I was actually crossing my legs to avoid pissing myself laughing, I might earn a representation on his behalf from a very irate shop steward.

A minor annoyance, which I can exploit anonymously for the purpose of comedy. The faint smell of cheese and the fact that there should be a "BIOHAZARD" sign on his desk are also funny, but I have other plans for this material.

Sometimes I think it's a shame that my boss and I belong to the same union.

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