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I missed a fascinating piece in the Daily Mail on Saturday, (mentioned by Richard Littlejohn in his column today.) The article is by "Matthew Walker." He is an "employee for a large inner London authority who lifts the lid on the culture of inertia and incompetence at his workplace. The Mail knows the true identity of the man  -  a graduate who has been a planning officer for eight years. But to protect his job, he is writing under an assumed name." His division has 60 employees and a budget of £22 million.

His account starts off:

Monday morning, it's 10am and I'm late for work  -  but there's no point hurrying because even though I should have been at my desk 30 minutes ago, I know I'll be the first to arrive at the office.

We read about Doreen who has only turned up for work for eight days in the past 18 months claiming to be under the influence of a witch doctor. Another member of staff was off sick for three months and found to be renting a villa in Marbella. He was caught out because he was still using his Council mobile phone. But he kept his job. Unison why shouldn't "sick" people rent villla?

The account continues:

Of course they have to provide sick-notes from a doctor, but as you can buy fake ones online for £10 it's never proved a problem.

There are procedures in place to address attendance, but nobody ever follows them through  -  chances are the person whose job it is to monitor sickness is probably signed off himself.

Some human resources managers, usually new to the job, do try to take action  -  but it mostly backfires.

What about those who do turn up? Jerry is aged 63 is paid £64,000 "does no work, but would cost an absolute fortune to get rid of." 

So he's left alone to play online poker, Skype his daughter in Florida and take his two-hour daily snooze at his desk, no doubt dreaming of the day when his gold-plated public sector pension will kick in.

He is next into work after Walker at 10.25am and "performs his morning ritual of taking both his phones off the hook."

We also here about all the training courses. (Including a 'cultural awareness and sensitivity' one that Walker was told to attend after asking a black colleague if he could open a window behind her desk.)

Do read the full article with all the illuminating examples. This is the key point:

Although it's two years since I started working for this authority I've also worked for two other London boroughs in various capacities over a period of 12 years. In that time I've never known anybody be sacked, no matter how inept and unprofessional they may be. I'm not sure what it takes to get fired in local government. I'd say 'murdering the CEO' but, even then, you're more likely to be sent on an 'anger in the workplace' course.

40 comments for: Whistleblower account of life in a Council’s Planning Department

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