P&O: A sinking ship?
March has been a mixed month for the unionised labour movement.
Amazon workers struck a major victory when their New York warehouse voted in favour of creating a Union – the first in the company’s history. The leadership of the likes of corporate giants Amazon and Starbucks have fought hard against this for several years, citing what seem like fairly feeble arguments about preferring to deal with employees directly.
Yet this may prove to be a fairly pyrrhic victory if the experience of the crew of P&O Ferries in the UK is anything to go by. The British Bullogers amongst you will be very familiar with the story, but those of you based elsewhere may not have picked this up. In essence, the leadership of P&O decided to sack 800 workers and replace them with cheaper foreign staff. This is in spite of the workers belonging to a Union which seems to have provided scant protection. The CEO Peter Hebblethwaite’s performance in front of a Commons Select Committee was pretty woeful to say the least. When asked why they’d done this without consulting the union he more or less confessed that “There’s absolutely no doubt we were required to consult with the unions … We chose not to do that.”
The result may end of in some form of charges or criminal investigation against Hebblethwaite and his leadership for their flagrant disregard for the law. But it does beg the question for Amazon and similar groups just what protection belonging to a union will give them, if the leadership choose not to consult them when they think they won’t like the answer.
Time will tell what happens to P&O and their poor sacked workers. Nevertheless, I remain convinced that the power in companies is continuing to shift downwards and outwards towards an altogether more democratic corporate world. Whether in the context of an organised Union or not, purpose will matter just as much as pay when it comes to negotiations between employer and employee on the future of the workplace.
A slow summer…..
The Craigberoch Business Decelerator continues to absorb the majority of my time – and happily so. This month our team ran two Focus Groups with a number of past participants from our events in late 2021. The feedback from these events was incredibly positive (overall rating of about 9.5/10) but the goal of the Focus Groups was to probe more deeply into aspects of the programme and how we might make the proposition as compelling as possible to corporate and NGO partners. We’ll be using the insights gained to further refine the programme and our positioning.
We’ll be starting the summer with a (newly enhanced) Decelerator Lab experience from 13-17 June on Bute. Participants will benefit from the very long summer daylight at that time of year and make sure that we spend plenty of time outdoors. Bonfires, walks in nature, a Scottish ceilidh and fabulous food from a resident chef are all planned and we’ve already got a lot of interest. It’s going to be a fabulous and, we hope, transformative week. Feel free to register interest on our website here or given that we’re looking to develop strategic partnerships, we’d be particularly grateful for any introductions you’d be willing to make to leaders within your organisation from the likes of Talent / HR / Innovation. Drop me a line directly if you think you could help on that front.
Best of the rest……
Besides Craigberoch work, I still do a limited amount of consulting work, primarily around intrapreneurship and corporate purpose. I’m part of a team supporting a major drinks company to develop their corporate purpose and gave a virtual talk to a client workshop in the US on my own experience as an intrapreneur within Accenture and where I saw the opportunities and challenges for them. They have a number of well-known brands and enormous reach, which makes their potential impact very significant.
I also made my first business trip to London in quite some time and had a chance to have in-person catch ups with several clients and indeed, a few friends that I hadn’t seen in a while. Highlights amongst the latter include a lunch with 88 year old Gerry Smith, a former senior exec from Racal, who regales me of his adventures in the corporate world and whose spirit and joie de vivre is always and inspiration. Also, a great meeting with my dear former colleague Angela Werrett, who headed up HR for Accenture Development Partnerships from our very beginning in 2003 until her recent retirement from Accenture. It was an opportunity to get an update on all my former Accenture / ADP friends and colleagues, who I confess to missing quite a bit since I left the company in 2016. I get lots of vicarious pleasure and pride when I hear of successful projects and individuals getting significant promotions.
On the personal front…….
March was quite a busy month on the personal front with a trip back to the Isle of Bute coinciding with a concert at the Conservatoire in Glasgow, where I was able to see my nephew, Gordon, play viola in the Conservatoire’s Symphony Orchestra. He’s just been accepted for a two-year Masters at the Royal Academy in London and so I hope to be able to attend more events in the future in and around the capital.
I’ve also enjoyed having a few visitors this month including my niece, Fiona and her boyfriend Callum, who made the most of some very sunny weather, albeit not the best snow so far this season.
As part of an annual tradition, a few mates and I donned our kilts and headed to Rome for the Scotland v Italy match in the 6 Nations Rugby. This was the first time we’d been able to go on tour in two years due to the pandemic and sunny Rome provided the perfect location and even the Scottish Team delivered a fine victory, running in no less than five tries.
Last, but not least, I was very flattered to be interviewed by my friend Al Judge as part of his new series of Chairlift Chats #chairliftchats. Al and his wife Katherine run the superb AliKats Chalet Company in Morzine and this series of short discussions is one of entrepreneurial Al’s latest ideas. The focus of the discussion was on mental health and well-being, but you’ll also have some footage of the pair of us skiing in Les Gets in perfect sunny conditions with Mont Blanc in the background. Don’t judge my old-fashioned “feet together” style – you know what they say about old dogs and new tricks!
OK, that’s more than enough for now folks. If you enjoy this monthly ramble then do feel free to suggest others sign up here. Until next month,
* The Bullog = Bulloch + BlogMake sense? Not bulldog, nor is it bulls**t although I’ll let you be the judge of that! It’s a brief synopsis on recent articles, events and opinions from my world and the things that have caught my attention over the past few weeks.