We can’t expect the States to bail everyone out

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From Philip Le Gros.

LISTENING to the States debate on the proposal to give our taxpayers’ money to redundant Woolworths employees, I was not surprised to hear a number of the ‘jump on the bandwagon’ brigade use the term ‘moral obligation’ to support their weak case.

There is neither a moral nor a legal obligation on the States to spend our money on ex-gratia payments to workers who find themselves out of work for whatever reason. Indeed, I suggest it would be immoral to spend money in this way without there being legislation in place to make such payments in a fair and equitable manner to all persons who find themselves in similar situations.

Yes, this is a clarion call to the States to set up something to help redundant workers in future – but the cost must fall in the long term on employers and employees, not on the States. What appears to be getting little mention, however, is the message this situation is sending out to other workers. Redundancies occur all the time – they are not confined to recessionary times – so what redundancy terms have all the Island’s workers negotiated with their employers? None? Then they must get round the table with their employer now. Don’t wait until one or two or all employees are made redundant, act now. Join a union, get the support of fellow workers.

We must get away from this dependency malaise when people expect the state to bail them out. Everyone should plan ahead, not just for retirement but for other possibilities during their working lives – like redundancy.

Of course larger groups of workers have more strength than employees of small companies to do this, which is why there is a need for a statutory scheme.

To have been an employee of a large company for years and to never have sought or negotiated a redundancy scheme reveals a head in the sand mentality, a symptom of the dependency malaise.

I’m sorry for those suffering from this, but don’t expect me to pay their doctors’ bills.

3 Fishermen’s Cottages,

Grande Route de la Côte,

St Clement.

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