Big freeze, pay freeze

22 Dec

THE company has introduced a pay freeze for 2012 because it is not generating sufficient profit to keep the shareholders’ bank accounts brimming. Regional press group Trinity Mirror – another company where imagination and flair are in short supply – introduced a pay freeze a couple of weeks ago, and now Spylt Inc has plodded into its tracks like a dullard following a muck cart.

And there’s more gloom – redundancies are gathering pace again. Down on the South Coast, Spylt Inc Southern has bundled an editor and a dozen journalists onto the streets, scattering P45s like Christmas cards. Sorry, chaps, no mince pies. Thank you and goodbye.

Here in Nitherley, under the less-than-paternal banner of Spylt Inc Northern, there is tension in the newsroom though genuine despondency over the pay freeze. Redundancies have left our numbers depleted and weakened our resolve. And the kettles have been taken away, too. Not only that, but the new water heater’s gone on the effing blink.

There was an NUJ chapel meeting in the function room of the Dead Duck yesterday. I put this resolution to members:

This chapel resolves that members surrender their wages in their entirety to enable the company to maximise payments to shareholders and buy more big cars for executives, and that the chapel approaches management with a view to opening up the empty offices on the ground floor so members’ families can sell their homes and move into the premises in order to increase working hours and further aid the shareholders in a genuine gesture of Christian unity at this time of goodwill.

There was no vote because no one took me seriously. But they did resolve to get cross if the water heater isn’t fixed promptly.

And now I stand in a freezing stairwell staring through a window out across the wet and benighted streets of Nitherley. Christmas lights glisten and dance on the December wind. Small groups of raucous smokers huddle in the alley behind the pub. A bus with steamy windows roars along an empty street while a man has a piss behind a waste bin.

And I think: we deserve better than this. Our readers deserve better than this. This country deserves better than this. But we are forced to settle for the lowest common denominator. We have to shrug our shoulders and bear our burdens while this once great industry is slowly demolished by a small though influential group of lacklustre, mean-minded nonentities who act like Murdochs and Maxwells but who cower behind closed doors when the glare of publicity shines on their deeds.

So I return to the question: should I be bothered? Should I, like those nonentities who are paid to know best, say fuck it as well? Or should I hang on in there clutching the desperate notion that someone, somewhere, possesses a bit of influence, vision – and perhaps a mince pie.


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