Saturday, 21 August 2010

The strange case of the "unproductive workers"........

This morning, BBC News and a number of newspapers carried a report about a study by a firm of consultants called Knox D'arcy, which purported to show that local government staff were only "productive" for 32% of working time. The same study apparently showed that private sector workers were only productive for 44% of the time, although this latter finding got quickly forgotten in the mini-tabloid frenzy which ensued.  Obviously those who buy into the notion of lazy, feather-bedded public sector workers needed no convincing, but there are few questions which arise for the more sceptical.......
  • No-one, it appears, commissioned this work from Knox D'arcy.  For some reason they seem to have taken it upon themselves.
  • There is no mention of it at all on their very sparse and apparently rarely updated website - although no doubt it got plenty of hits after today's coverage.
  • Little is said in any of the reports about the precise methodology used by the firm, but it seems they "surveyed" around 1800 workers.  Where these workers were from and what form this survey took is not mentioned.  What we do know is that just 173 of them actually worked in local government.
  • We have no idea how the "productivity" of different workers has actually been compared.
What we do know is that, based upon this research, Knox D'arcy has plucked out of the air a figure of 500,000 jobs which it says could be done away with in local government, without affecting "productivity" at all.

How very convenient!

At a time when the ConDems are looking to make massive cuts and are trying to scapegoat public sector workers, along comes a firm of consultants with the perfect recipe!  And they've done a nice bit of self-promotion along the way.  "Hey look! We're the people who can save you 500,000 jobs!"

You won't get any of this from the papers - and not even the BBC seems to have done any real investigation.

Another day - a bit more softening up of public opinion for the cuts they have planned.


Pip said...

I'd like to know what their definition of 'unproductive' might be. Making tea? Going for pee? Having a few minutes conversation with a colleague? Breathing?
It smacks of the thin end of the wedge that sees toilet breaks monitored & everyone tied to their work station, like something from Chaplin's Modern Times. I bet they don't apply it to the managers though...
This is part of the resurgence of the 19th century view of working people that we have to fight against. Just because we sell our labour doesn't mean we're the bosses' property.

Anonymous said...

Hi Andy,

Another ploy to 'brainwash' the public into believing that the cuts are justified. It did get a mention on Channel Four News on Saturday evening but that was it. No mention of who commissioned this 'alleged' study. That is the private sector for you. I am personally keeping a watchful eye on Mears Group PLC (in partnership with B&HCC) (housing repairs using those white transit vans) as they have grown from a small, private building contractor in 1988 to a 'big player' with over 11,000+ employees nationwide with a £420m turnover in 2008 and now as a support service with interests in domicilary care (nationally and locally - Patching Lodge). What with Barradell/Mears governance model towards commissioning of services...who knows whats around the corner! Watch this space.....