Cold Weather Failures 74

The good news is that I am at Schiphol airport with a passable internet connection for the first time in three weeks. The bad news is that I am at Schiphol airport a great deal longer than I anticipated. Schiphol is colder than Heathrow and has mpre snow than Heathrow. It is operating normally – except for flights to the UK, of course.

A combination of crazed right wing thinking and crazed left wind thinking, so typical of the UK, is why our airports are rubbish.

The crazed right wing thinking is that our privatised infrastructure operates on the basis of maximising short term income. BAA is a renter of luxury goods retail space and the planes are just an unavoidable inconvenience. Following modern capitalist dogma, it carries no redundancy. It has only enough staff to just run the airport if they are all present and at full stretch. It can’t cope with a percentage not being able to get to work; it has no built in insurance of excess capacity.

BAA invests in only enough cold weather equipment to cope with a mild to normal winter. It has not tied up capital in equipment that may be fully needed only once in every five years. It crosses its fingers and hopes – it has, in effect, no insurance.

It is not of course unique. The philosophy of just in time ordering that transformed cash flows two decades ago, means total collapse if transport is disrupted. You hold no stock, carry no excess of anything.

It is this ideological commitment to short term profit maximisation that makes capitalism an unsafe model for British public infrastructure.

But then there adds to the chaos the left wing rubbish of health and safety culture. A man may not unload bags if there is any ice under his boots. He may slip. All risk must be eliminated and we must live hermetically sealed from our environment.

Weirdly the health and safety bullshit has become a part of corporate culture, an intrinsic part of management speak, trotted out by people who would sell baby parts to turn a buck, but not if there was a danger someone in the workplace would slip on the blood. Health and

safety is a mantra divorced of either morality or common sense.

Now where is that free champagne?

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74 thoughts on “Cold Weather Failures

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  • Steve

    An accurate illustration thats hits the mark and can also be applied to many other organizations

  • Nicko

    Thanks to Suhayl Saadi for your kind comments. I wasn’t sure if I’d explained myself properly, but obviously you managed to piece my fragmented thoughts together.

    Another point to make is that the combined effect of the reduced role of the trade unions in national life and the decline of a culture of deference has meant that employees are much more inclined to take up issues with their emloyers as individuals and certainly rather more likely to take legal action in pursuit of compensation.

    Just to illustrate what I mean with an example from the real world, in my late father’s working life, if people had a problem with their working conditions they either addressed it collectively, usually through a union, or they suffered in silence. The idea of sueing an employer would have seemed quite ridiculous.

    Now people are less likely to have access to a union, but as we see, companies have to keep sizeable reserves available to ward off unwanted litigation. I myself worked for an organisation that had a cast-iron case for dismissing a particular member of staff but chose to pay him to drop a proposed tribunal case. The argument was that it would be cheaper and easier that way and (rather cynically) that he would accept a relatively small sum as he knew full well his case would be unsuccessful if pursued. An accurate assumption as it happened !

    Inevitably, working on the assumption that all claims, no matter how ill-founded, cost time and money, companies attempt to head off litigation by indulging in absurd precautions, the classic we all know about being “this product may contain nuts” on the back of a peanut packet !

  • Cheeba Cow

    Hey guys check out I got a part in the Xmas pantomime!

    Yea, I’m the back end of the horse.

    As you can guess it’s not a speaking part as such but I do get to rim the arse of the bloke on the front!

    Love to all!

  • ingo

    Wow that’s great ChebaCow!

    Is the guy on the front wearing a kilt to make your job easier?

    Can I be stand-in for the bloke on the front one time?

    Happy Xmas!

  • Suhayl Saadi

    My pleasure, Nicko! I agree with you,(re. your post at 2:20pm), on all of that – including the very astute systemic point about the individual vs collective dynamic – that is spot-on.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Actually, Nicko, I just checked your fascinating and wide-ranging blog and I see that one of your friends died of asbestos-related disease; I’m very sorry to hear that.

    I know parts of Notts/Lincs very well, as it happens. Small world, eh!

    Did you ever see the Ken Loach film, ‘Land and Freedom’?

    In connection with the fascinating gravestone, here too is an interesting link:

  • glenn

    Suhayl: The notable talk-show host and writer, intellectual and something of a renaissance man Thom Hartmann, had a father who died of mesothelioma. Unsurprisingly, he’s had a lot to say on the subject in recent years. It does indeed sound like a pretty terrible way to go, and I did sympathise with Archie, even though he certainly had a dark past.

  • glenn

    Suhayl: The notable talk-show host and writer, intellectual and something of a renaissance man Thom Hartmann, had a father who died of mesothelioma. Unsurprisingly, he’s had a lot to say on the subject in recent years. It does indeed sound like a pretty terrible way to go, and I did sympathise with Archie, even though he certainly had a dark past.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    I do hope that the spambot above was indeed ‘unconscious’; for anyone knowingly to have (inherently mockingly) parroted my statement on this subject in relation to Nicko friend’s death would suggest psychopathy at the very least.

    In other words, someone dies of mesothelioma and you play spambots.

    Glenn, thanks for the info. and it moves me that you sympathised with ‘Archie’; I did want to make a complex character, one who was difficult to love or like but who, nonetheless, was human and real.

  • Nicko

    Well, thank you to Suhayl and Glenn for your comments.

    Suhayl : I’ve added the link you provided to Favourites to look at properly when I get a little spare time (whenever that may be !). I’ll have a look at your website sometime as well.

    It is indeed a small world.

    Sorry, I’ve not seen Land and Freedom – I rarely watch political films, though I do like Edward G Robinson in The Stranger.

  • Tom (iow)

    There is one aspect of health and safety bullshit that had real consequences for me. I have mild autism and secondary mental health problems. I was stuck at Gatwick airport for 8 hours once, and they have about 5-10 small electric cars that move at about 4mph. Each one apparently needs to emit a 100+ dB noise, the whole time, which to me feels like an icepick through my eyes.

    I am told this is for visually impaired people. How this sound coming from all around, from a hundred feet away, all the time, is suppossed to help anyone who cannot see is beyond me. And can’t the driver just look where he is going at 4mph?

    They have the same thing in shops like B+Q and after the above, I cannot go in those places.

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