THE STATE OF THE NATION
Published:  14 December, 2006

Often, I feel the country is going mad, continually trying to buy on price, rather than on quality.

With the public's obsession in buying everything as cheaply as they can, we are shopping ourselves out of jobs. More and more factories are closing down in the UK. And the supermarkets hold much of the responsibility for this insane rush to lower prices. In reality, many of our remaining factories are importers - and often only assembly plants at best - as they source their products from overseas. If we cannot create jobs for everyone, where is the money coming from to buy the goods?

I have always said I do very little wholesale and never intend to try to supply supermarkets. I feel that those chasing that business have a tendency towards volume addiction. But why should I borrow or use my money to put in extra plant - and even buildings - to provide products for someone else? That would mean I take the risk and they take the profits. Once you get hooked, I suppose it's like riding a bicycle - once you stop pedalling, you fall off.

Recently, I read in The Times that scientists claim that, within 20 years, there will be smart drugs that will make us think faster, improve memory and reduce tiredness. It reminds me of that old song, Why was I Born So Soon? Gosh, how I would love to have that pill.

There is no doubt about it, the public sector is the place to be if you want short working hours, high pay, little stress and high pensions. Public sector workers across the board take 30% more days off sick than private sector workers, according to statistics.Then, their trade unions claim it is the extra stress they work under. I call it skiving off.

Our MD, Neville, runs the firm without much help from me. When he tells me his staff problems, I confess I could not deal with the utter stupidity of the employment rules, which the idiots in government keep introducing. They will inevitably lead to unemployment. More time is spent on trying to remove a poorly performing member of staff with a bad attitude than on trying to improve the business.

The total unfairness of it is that, if a member of staff does not like my face, they are at liberty to say, "I think you are ugly and I am not going to work for you." This, I feel, is probably justified, as I don't look like Cary Grant.

But just think what would happen if I said to a member of staff, "I don't like your attitude. You never smile and you depress everyone around you, so you must leave and find employment where you can be happy." I would be in an industrial tribunal before you could say "goodbye". And they call that fair? Unemployment is a bit like old age; it just keeps getting closer. n




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