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Donkin's World: Give Her A Break

Richard Donkin tells of “petty’’ workplace issues that really matter a great deal.

Do please visit Richard's well-stocked Web site

Details of his book Blood, Sweat and Tears which is acclaimed world-wide can be found here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Sweat-Tears-Evolution-Work/dp/1587990768/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1214554429&sr=1-2

Gill, my wife, works as a locum pharmacist. The other day she arrived at one of the large supermarkets where she sometimes works, to find that the pharmacy kettle had disappeared. She found it in a cupboard with a tape stuck over it saying "do not use."

There was a note explaining that all electrical equipment in the store needed to be checked before it could be used. A check would cost £200 and, since new kettles were on sale in the store at £20, the management had withdrawn the kettle from use. Staff were being asked to use the canteen instead.

All well and good if you have breaks built in to your work. But this isn't the deal with locum pharmacists. If they take a break the pharmacy must shut down - since the presence of a pharmacist is a legal requirement - and the supermarket, which has a contract to provide 100 hours a week pharmacy cover, doesn't want that to happen.

So Gill must work the whole shift without a break and now, it seems, without a cup of tea. She used the kettle all the same. What else can you do when faced with such ridiculous measures?

These are the sort of everyday issues in the workplace that never come to the attention of the boardroom. They were the sort of "petty" things that led to strikes in the past when unions were stronger. Except they are not petty. These are basic issues that matter to people. Every employee should have an opportunity for a break.


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