Almost on my doorstep is a company that is being wound up, after being in business for 45 years, and surviving through the Troubles. The whole workforce is now in a sit-in, because it was made redundant, with terms that were totally unfair, and it would seem, by the way the discussion is progressing, that there may be some legal reason in their favour, for claiming they are being treated unjustly. I quote this, because it is regularly on our news, and must be replicated right across the country.
Throughout the land there must be young people, middle aged, and old, who are receiving termination notices. Some are being sacrificed on the altar of pragmatic accounting, some because the whole company has gone into receivership. Most of these people are hard working, loyal and competent, had a future they thought they could rely on, only to find that they appear to have no future at all.
The situation is the result of nothing more nor less than gambling. The boards of the banks certainly permitted, if not actually sponsored the most risky form of gambling that there is. With a bookie, you’re betting small sums on a positive outcome. In the case of gambling on the stock exchange, you have Bull and Bear markets where you can bet that the price will rise or fall, and the amounts that these people were handling, belonging, as much of it did, to the customers of the bank, must have been prodigious. What I find alarming, as everyone else does, is that they were doing it unheeded by the regulating authority.
Where this business is so unfair and so illogical, is that the banks, the instigators of the crunch have been bailed out, but the very people who were innocent of any misjudgement, to put it mildly, are not getting bailed out, and are now finding themselves in a financial situation where many of them have no idea just what awaits them. I was made redundant by the RN upon demobilisation, and was made unemployed later in life, and I know the stresses that this can bring, but I had an extended family; so many of those affected today, are on their own, facing losing everything.
There should be some mechanism which cushions the blow to these people, protects their homes, and gives them time to redress. When you read about the quantity of the money paid out to the building societies and banks, it makes one wonder how this would compare with paying some of the interest on the mortgages of those made redundant, and giving additional help when needed, in order to cushion the blow on the innocent, so that unlike me, as a child, being farmed out around the family in a similar situation, the families can stay together and have time to review their own personal situation, and perhaps come to a temporary solution that is equable if not perfect.
Accountants will probably say that I’m stupid, and they could be right, I just feel that the balance of who qualified for the help and who should be receiving it, is totally out of kilter, and unfair.