TalkTalk WalkWalk

 Posted by on September 8, 2011  Add comments
Sep 082011
 

Is there any such thing as a corporate citizen, or is profit the only legitimate motivation for any company operating in Ireland?  If people arrange their lives, move into the local area, take out mortgages and commit to a company, does that company have any reciprocal obligation, or are employees just disposable commodities?

TalkTalk obviously attaches no value at all to the people it employed, discarding them like so many empty sweet-wrappers when it found something more attractive to replace them, and I have to say that I find this attitude to human beings more and more despicable.  We have already sacrificed the entire Irish economy to the god of Market Forces, a vile ideology that reduces people to the level of replaceable components, and it seems to me that we’re well on the way to replacing employment with slavery.

Isn’t it about time we stopped adhering to this discredited and heartless view of humanity, and started to impose values on the  companies that set up in this country?  Values and long-term obligations.  I think that, in the absence of a desire by businesses to behave morally and ethically, they should have morality and ethics imposed on them by law in defence of the working citizen.

Even then, the law can only specify the lowest acceptable level of behaviour.  Properly ethical business management should operate at a level above the bare minimum set down in law, just as individual human beings offer each other generosity and consideration far beyond their legal obligations.  But in the absence of goodwill on the part of employers such as TalkTalk, at least we might set a basic level.  Would that be such a bad thing?  Would it be so dreadful to make a company treat its employees with respect, as living, breathing human beings with homes and families, instead of simply treating them as items of equipment?

Maybe a partial solution might be to insist on a corporate code of ethics for any company seeking grant assistance to set up in Ireland.  It’s true that such codes of ethics can often amount to little more than meaningless PR waffle.  Many of them are just a rewording of existing legal obligations in high-sounding language, but it doesn’t have to be like that.  A company’s code of ethics could be defined in law, requiring them to meet certain basic criteria.  It should recognise that the company owes a responsibility to the workers who have committed to it.  It should explicitly define the extent of their job security.  It should set out what the company believes its place is in the local community.  It should define verifiable measures to test how well the company is meeting these obligations.

A company that fails to abide by its commitment should face heavy penalties when it decides at a moment’s notice to relocate for financial expediency and not simply because it has to.

These principles exist in other cultures, and once existed on these islands too.   Islam forbids charging interest on some kinds of loans, especially those intended to help others out of difficulty.  In Muslim countries, there’s a concept of morality that businesses are expected to meet over and above what the law requires.  But of course, this implies the existence of a strong moral sense throughout society, which is something that seems to have eroded badly in Ireland.

In the past, we had businesses such as Guinness and Cadburys, run on paternalistic but relatively benign and progressive principles that saw them providing housing and education for their employees.  The companies placed themselves in loco parentis, and in return, the employee committed fully to the job.  Of course, both companies also found themselves in a broader moral conflict — Guinness, by its contribution to alcoholism and Cadbury Brothers by the existence of forced labour in Portugal’s African colonies, from where it bought its cocoa.  But at least, as far as possible, they recognised an obligation to their local employees that would be inconceivable today, in a climate where profit is everything and the worker is no more than a traded commodity.

 

 

  35 Responses to “TalkTalk WalkWalk”

Comments (35)
  1.  

    I like how you mention Islam Bock because we here in the “western” world are a shower of pedantic bastards. Why bother to waste how ever many millions it costed to keep the call center in this country when those Filipinos would do the job for the equivalent of about $4.50 a week??

  2.  

    Could any of their tax benefits be recouped?(legally)

    Also an IDA spokesman said earlier on the radio that a grant was approved for Talk Talk to upskill their employees,this was in July I believe.. I wonder if they took the money?

  3.  

    @ bobbo beard…Call centre jobs in the Philippines are highly prized and attract some of the best educated and brightest…and they pay a hell of a sight more than $4.50 a week I can assure you.I have a Filippina friend that worked in one,cant remember her exact pay but it was pretty good.

  4.  

    The worker’s Utopia you refer to already exists here in Ireland but is maintained for the benefit of civil servants.

  5.  

    Also she spoke 3 different languages which is what helped her secure the job.

  6.  

    Mad dog you certainly got it right there.I got dizzy listening to all the hundreds of thousands for this that and the other the civil servant that retired this week was entitled to.

  7.  

    Mad Dog — Do you think companies should have a duty of care to their employees or not? You seem to be sending out mixed messages.

  8.  

    I think you’re spot on Bock.. what’s new shur you might say :)
    Companies don’t give a rat’s arse about their employees really, unless forced to. But would that make us ‘less competitive’ if restrictions were put on them making it more difficult for them to relocate if they can get labour for a buck or two cheaper elsewhere? Another thing that sickens me is arse licking management. The CEO does not give a damn about you no matter how far you stick your tongue up there.. if your job can be done for a buck cheaper elsewhere, well it’s adios amigos.

  9.  

    Capitalism is what it is, and has always been that way. It’s the profit motive above all, and a company is failing in its duty if it ignores that dynamic. The notion of corporate ethics, on this level at least, is an oxymoron.

    However, capitalism in the early 21st century is a particularly noxious combination of an overiding belief in ‘market forces’ as a societal phenomenon, allied to the ever increasing power of the financial ‘services’ industry, resulting in the gap between rich and poor widening at an exponential rate ,not just between so-called developed and developing economies, but also within the developed countries themselves.

    Part of this development is due to the middle classes having been duped into sustaining a ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ lifestyle, faciliated by extended personal credit, the managing of which requires both life partners working full-time. The reality is that they are getting poorer, not just in monetary terms, but also in their quality of life.

    The people who moved to filled these jobs, who took out mortgages and believed the crap that these corporations feed to them on loyality, commitment etc., are making the same dual error.

    Plus, to back up Mad Dog’s point, we have the added dimension, peculiar to Ireland, of the (higher-level) public servants living on salaries and benefits that no other country of a similar size would countenace … our own little version of the super-rich pissing on the rest ….

    And of course the Irish middle classes will pay their mortgages, and in fact will pay for the bankers and developers, as well as the excesses of the politicians and senior civil servants, because that’s just how we do things here ….

  10.  

    The question in the post is whether we, as a society, should force ethics on companies unwilling to behave ethically voluntarily.

  11.  

    It’s a complicated question and an interesting one, but my question back is, how can we call corporate ethics into account when our own so-called public servants (chief among them our politicians) have behaved irresponsibly, and in many cases unethically, for years in this country?

  12.  

    Tony S and William — If you read the post, you’ll see that it’s specifically about private industry moving abroad. Is that a very difficult topic to stick with?

  13.  

    Talk Talk is gone end of, nothing to see here move on.
    Today I listened to Ireland’s most expensive Call Centre, Joe Duffy,(check out what we pay that jobsworth gobshite) and he was gobsmacked that the employee’s of Talk Talk were not Union represented, Newsflash Joe…, the only Union representation in Ireland is in the lardarse Public sector.
    Back on topic I agree with you Bock, yes, there should be a charter of rights between Employers and Employee’s, both Private and Public sector, if you are grant aided by taxpayers or funded by taxpayers then you have an obligation to the taxpayer/citizens of the state, end of.
    How do we conceive or implement such a charter?, I don’t know, but I would be willing to engage with others in this area, I would be more than willing to explore all options and avenues, but, I suspect there are those with an hidden agenda more than willing to ensure no such charter would evolve.
    The only information of use I learned today from Joe (the most expensive Call Centre in the world) Duffy was that 11850 directory inquiries (the pair of muppets with the Honda 50) moved their operation to the Philippines, grand, I will not be using their services again, I will use the power of my wallet where I can, to make what little difference that I can.

  14.  

    Hi Bock,
    Certainly employers have a duty of care to their employees,and so they should.They also have a duty to their bank,creditors,shareholders,taxation dept. etc.Most private sector jobs in Ireland come from either farming or small business.I regret these job losses at TalkTalk.Naturally,I also would like to see Ireland attracting more companies of that size and I would encourage them to afford their employees the best possible conditions.

  15.  

    Very interesting question although I suspect that there is no easy answer; since companies like TalkTalk are beholden to their shareholders – they are the ones to whom the company has a primary legal/financial responsibility – it becomes virtually impossible to enforce a code of ethics at the corporate level since it is often the shareholders/board of directors who are behind the decision to up sticks and move.

    That being said, I do believe that any company that offers its employees full-time employment does have a responsibility and should not be allowed to just up and leave.
    Perhaps I am mistaken, but didn’t that used to be the case with for e.g Apple in Cork – I recall way back when I worked beside their plant doing outsourced debug on their products we used to hear how they were packing it in any day now, but in the end they would have to pay back so much in penalty fees over the corporate tax breaks, that they always ended up staying – or was that all just rumour, a similar situation with DELL as well – as I have commented on before, they had the replacement EMFs built and ready to rumble for years before they buggered off and they just waited until the time was right so they could avoid a hefty payout?

  16.  

    In my view the duties of care should be balanced, just as they are with individual people. If the interests of the shareholders become the sole determinant of a company’s behaviour, then the imbalance should be corrected by law.

  17.  

    I think youre getting to the heart of it in #17 there Bock. Company law afaik,stipulates that companies must act in the interest of shareholders. From this pov, all that corporate social responsibility stuff is a fig leaf that can only be justified if enough good PR accrues to make it a worthwhile investment, otherwise its just a waste of shareholders money. Its a perfectly logical position in some ways, if you buy shares you want the company to focus on making you money. Obviously this leads to corporations being required to behave as psyochopathic entities, destroying people and the environment, and anything else that stands in their way. Not good, especially when they are so successful at corrupting our democracy. Answer = better laws as you say, more importantly protection against buying off lawmakers.

  18.  

    It goes without question BOCK that corporations should be held to account. Given however the legitimacy given ‘corporate’ banking by our ‘corporate-minded’ government, nothing will bs done until it is done by ‘the people’. A boycott campaign could be started, it is after all an uniquely Irish thing. The Irish in Britain are amongst their many customers. I’ll see if I can stoke up a little interest over there.

  19.  

    The CEO of corporations such as TalkTalk have a singular mandate: to create maximum shareholder value. That is the be all and end all, everything else that they espouse is nothing but spin and veneer. Any talk of corporate ethics is nothing but oxymoron. Any attempt to legislate for an alternative will see these corporations flee our shores for more accommodating hosts. Then where will we be?

  20.  

    There will never be any “voluntary ethical code” at corporate level. If you want to be employed by someone that has a modicum of interest in your well-being you need to work for a company NOT listed on the stock exchange. I worked for a huge Multinational corp. up to a few years ago. They dumped us all despite the fact that our manufacturing plant was making billions( but less billions than somewhere else) for them. Ruthless people.

  21.  

    Point of information. The precedent in the US comes from this ruling:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodge_v._Ford_Motor_Company#Significance

    ::

  22.  

    To paraphrase a well known 20th century cunt”Ethics morals decency justice and humanitarianism should all be forgotten about if they are a hinderance to the the cause”.In this case profit.

  23.  

    Bock, sorry to hijack this post of yours, but I didn’t find a “contact” on this website.

    Your site is bookmarked and checked every day, but since this post about TalkTalk nothing happened. First I was worried about you ( I’m a professional worrier…), then I found out by searching with google, then clicking on “cache” that you are still posting. And that others can still post replys.
    Then nothing again, nothing since the last cache.

    My computer settings are the same as always, every blog or board or whatever comes up updated. Not yours, though.
    Is it something with your new website? Did I miss something?

    I love to read your posts and all the comments. Gives me hope that there are still thinking people in Ireland. And it’s fun.

    I hate to think that I have to google your site first and then go to cache to get a glimpse about whats going on here. If the cache is up to date, that is.
    Please rescue me.

  24.  

    yep same here,thought the site was dead for a while.Even now each page has to be refreshed to get recent posts.No probs on other sites.

  25.  

    Same prob as William, have to refresh at every visit.

  26.  

    I think it’s attributable to the disruption caused by the renovations. I made a comment on the Masterchef thread which appears to be totally insane unless you allow for the fact that only the first few paragraphs of the Bockmeisters rant appeared initially (when the full text was displayed, the context was completely different). Other comments have vanished into the ether. Patience, my friends, patience!

  27.  

    Ok. Thanks for feedback. I’ll have to look into it. It’s probably a cache problem. Try hitting F5 on your PC and see if that fixes it.

  28.  

    I just found out that it works with Explorer, as I write right now, because even with google&cache I didn’t see the latest posts. I usually have Firefox.
    Refresh didn’t work, neither did F5, still have to go the scenic road to Bock…

  29.  

    I’ve just been informed that other sites are having a problem with Chrome at the moment.

  30.  

    I had this problem too. I thought it was just me.
    Internet explorer here. F5 sorts it though.

    small point.. The date format in the comments is yankyize.

  31.  

    I was talking to a TalkTalk employee and asked him, as a lardarsed public sector worker, why he had lost his job. “TalkTalk are a fucking shower of fucking cunts,” was his reply. He told me they were not given any warning, had 30 days left and made £52 million profit for the company last year. He was fairly pissed off as you can imagine. The conclusion we reached at work, where we do nothing but collect our paychecks, was pure greed on the part of the company. It is sheer callousness that shocks. I read somewhere that this is what companies do when they plan to lay off staff: give minimal notice in order to prevent any harm to productivity than if the notice was given earlier.

    It bears a lot of similarities to Dell:
    Training new staff abroad.
    Profitable company.
    Assurances from management that the plant would not be relocated.
    Receiving a fortune in grants.
    Non unionised workforce (easier to exploit and threat to lay off staff if they joined one).
    Sudden dismissal.

    The major difference was that in Dell everyone, except the most deluded of Dell employees, expected Hell to close down eventually, it was just a matter of when. TalkTalk employees had no such expectations.

    The result is a disaster, economically and socially, for these people and it will be the lardarsed public sector, not TalkTalk or the trio of PS critics on this thread, who will be helping them pick up the pieces.

    I do not see Bock’s suggestions being enacted by any law anytime soon, rather the reverse considering where Richard Bruton is heading, to the detriment of this country.

  32.  

    So TalkTalk made 52 million.Compare that to Fas doing away with a billion

  33.  

    mad dog – What? Has FAS relocated to the Phillipines and dumped almost 600 people on the dole queue? I don’t see how TalkTalk and FAS are connected in this.

  34.  

    Yobbah,
    This is exactly my point.Much ado when a business closes while ignoring the elephant in the room.Fas et al are a far greater disaster for Ireland and we don’t see any way forward.

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