The public sector strike has many ramifications.
The big news is the intimidation of staff at schools and hospitals, including those in the private sector, the harassment and violence against school children trying to find other ways to study, and the death of patients neglected in or turned away from hospitals.
Then there are those in business who are suddenly faced with children out of school needing care. What does a company do when parents indicate that they have to stay at home to look after affected children?
First and foremost, managers should take the words of Paul Falcone of Time Warner Cable to heart: “Always focus on shifting responsibility for improvement away from your company and to the employee (where it rightfully belongs).” In this case, the responsibility to be at work is the employee’s. No-one should be in any doubt about that.
There is no difference between having to look after children thrust upon unsuspecting parents as a result of strike action, and children struck down with a sudden illness. If an employee is not at work the company policies regarding non-attendance apply whatever the circumstances. If a company takes responsibility for children locked out of school, what about family members thrown out of hospital?
Employees often try to induce a guilt trip on their managers; and managers do the Company a disservice when they succumb to such pressure. “If we don’t do something we’ll have no-one at work and then what?”
If, however, we accept that the Company is not responsible, we may then ask if there anything the Company can do to help.
The first step would be to ask for the affected employees’ suggestions. What have they investigated, thought might be helpful, discussed among themselves?
I know of one large corporate who, during the World Cup, made arrangements with a crèche-cum-day-care centre for special rates for the children of staff. It was dependent on numbers but it was a nice gesture. I haven’t heard of anyone doing anything during the strike. The ambiguity of a strike and the uncertainty from day to day and week to week makes planning difficult. It was possible during the World Cup for enough parents in a particular area to commit to a particular programme for a few weeks; most parents were affected in the same way at the same time. It seems to me that the strike throws up far too many variables.
Any ideas or comments?