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Something I Want To Say In Regards To These Difficult Times...


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After revisiting a thread on this site and I really do care about the people facing difficulties on all sides, I am writing this. Not because anyone has told me to write it, but because I think it is a good idea, so moderators, if you think it is not a good idea to write this then feel free to delete it.

 

This is not a blame thread. It is meant to be a practical and informative thread and as I write this it may already be out of date but I will write it anyway.

 

 

Model railway shops that provide a mail order service have been experiencing a tremendous amount of trade due to lockdowns and the amount of extra people taking up the hobby, which is good as this is an excellent hobby to be involved in (And anyone who thinks they can't afford this hobby or thinks they don't have the room, there are ways round this... Please ask). 

 

As far as I am aware, the difficulties many are or have been facing are twofold. First due to the restrictions they are unable to recruit more staff (And if they could, new staff need to be trained and one needs to have the time to train and monitor them so it is not an easy task at all). 

The second reason is that supplies of new models and equipment has been exceedingly slow into the country both due to the lockdown and due to the EU to UK boarders with extra delays. 

 

Though most of you already know this, be patient and be aware that quite a few shops are struggling. 

 

Also be aware that the staff in these shops are under tremendous pressure so be aware of this. 

 

I have no direct connection in the trade, but having worked in other retail teades in the past on and off for many years, I know how much pressure staff and managers and shop owners can be under. 

 

I also realize that when one places an order for a costly piece of equipment and the payment has gone through but the order has not arrived, that it can be mightily frustrating, especially if one is not able to get in touch with the store so you do have my sympathies there as well. 

 

May I suggest as a temporary solution for some, especially newer members into this hobby is to buy secondhand just until all goes back to normal and maybe it is a good idea for those of us who have been in the hobby for a considerable time to have a spring clean and let some of our surplus stuff go for sale? This will help the hobby cope with the demands placed upon it and keep new members and older members happy? (I am not saying you must do this. I am only saying that if you do happen to have surplus items that you don't need and are willing to part with that this is probably a good time to sell them. Just make sure it is not something you may need again later!)

There are several online secondhand model railway traders out there and I use one myself on occasions and have picked up a few interesting items ripe for conversion into 7mm narrow gauge which is the gauge and scale I am now modelling in.

I will also say that those who are having a spring clean, just because the items you may have found spare may not seem to be of use to anyone, does not mean that you are right, as I have recently found people wanting bits and pieces I have which are just what they need! Examples are a pair of rather battered Triang 00 gauge brake van bodies with what was left of their roofs (I had previously used the chassis for 7mm NG use). Well... I just so happened to see a modeller who had converted one of these into a fantastic 009 scale brakevan on another site and it really looked the part! I asked if he needed any more of them and he was delighted to know I had them spare. Ideal! I get to de-clutter and he gets his next projects to work on. 

Edited by Mountain Goat
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So in summary , you are saying buy second hand to take the pressure off retailers .

 

 

I get that it’s been hard but restrictions aside it’s been a golden time for people buying models , I hope a lot of retailers have made some decent money.

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Help struggling retailers by not buying from them?

 

Sorry, maybe I misinterpreted the point you are trying to make, but how does that help?

Edited by Trains4U
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To be honest, the only real supply and demand issue I have seen is with High Level Kits and Markits struggling to get re-supplied. One of the most important attributes you need in the hobby is patience. So, waiting a few weeks or months for that gadget, part, latest rolling stock item or bit of scenery isn't really the end of the world. There are so many other jobs I can be getting on with to do with building kits, layout improvements, refreshing the scenery, cleaning the layout/track, etc that the delay caused by a waiting for a few components isnt that much of an issue.

 

Retailers need us to spend money more than ever right now. They are struggling so much that many may not survive. I already buy a lot secondhand, but I also do visit my local model shop and spend a few quid as and when I can.

 

I say we need to support them, order those items we want and be patient! The planets, moon and stars will all align one day and everything will come right again. 

 

Ian

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Supply has been an issue, Peco and Metcalfe (both manufacturing the UK) are the biggest issues that come to mind - but that has largely been solved.

 

13 hours ago, Mountain Goat said:

I also realize that when one places an order for a costly piece of equipment and the payment has gone through but the order has not arrived, that it can be mightily frustrating, especially if one is not able to get in touch with the store so you do have my sympathies there as well. 

 

1) Get in touch with the store. By telephone ideally, don't rely on e-mail or the store reading your complaint on a forum.

2) Even in these days, normal rules still apply. Money shouldn't be taken for products that can't be supplied.

 

I'm not sure how starving the retail trade of sales is supposed to help them though.

 

4 hours ago, ianLMS said:

Retailers need us to spend money more than ever right now. They are struggling so much that many may not survive.

 

While there will be exceptions, those selling online have had an exceptional year, at least according to the ones I've talked to. Physical model shops though, could certainly benefit from our help so spend money now!

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13 hours ago, Mountain Goat said:

As far as I am aware, the difficulties many are or have been facing are twofold. First due to the restrictions they are unable to recruit more staff (And if they could, new staff need to be trained and one needs to have the time to train and monitor them so it is not an easy task at all). 

The second reason is that supplies of new models and equipment has been exceedingly slow into the country both due to the lockdown and due to the EU to UK boarders with extra delays. 

 

 

As far as I know there aren't any restrictions on recruiting staff. Model shop staff don't tend to be from outside the UK. 

 

You also don't need DBS checks unless you are specifically working with vulnerable people such as children. Training is pretty easy as you usually learn as you go along.

 

Recruiting staff is difficult because most retailers want the staff to work part time for various reason such as tax. Part time workers are now tax exempt.

 

But look at it the other way. Do YOU want to work four hours a week at minimum wage? I'm afraid that's the problem. It's the same with restaurants and pubs. The staff need the hours, the employers don't want or can't afford to spend the money.

 

Even getting a youngster in and giving him eight hours at NMW is 8 x £4.62 = £36.96. Personally I wouldn't even get out of bed for that. 

 

 

Jason

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Interesting post.

 

 

As Phil Parker says, some shops have been booming. But not all of them. 

 

As for supply issues, we have had an early warning that we should prepare for severe shortages and certainly expect Christmas deliveries to be badly effected. To avoid mass panic, this hasn’t come from any of the model railways suppliers. We have today ordered our Christmas stock in certain lines and hope for the best. Issue is if it does arrive, does it arrive far too early? Payment and storage then become big issues.

 

Our end end of year accounts have been finalised. We lost tens and tens of thousands of pounds in sales. This and the immediate area was under Lockdown and Tier restrictions longer than anywhere else in England certainly.  We are at the moment under what can loosely be called voluntary restrictions, work from home, avoid non essential travel, don’t travel into this area etc. 

 

Due to the government grants we appear and l must repeat appear to have made a good profit. We have learned that the profit will be taxed at 29%. Apparently that’s including National Insurance. That becomes payable next January, phew....

 

If we could afford to recruit staff, there is still the issue of social distancing between staff. More staff, less room for customers. Oh and offering them a place in a pension scheme.

 

The good news has come from Jason, aka Steamport Southport. Part time workers don’t pay tax. 

 

I just need need to find half a dozen part time jobs.

 

l am not quite sure how this suggestion will help us.

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15 hours ago, Widnes Model Centre said:

 

Interesting post.

 

 

As Phil Parker says, some shops have been booming. But not all of them. 

 

As for supply issues, we have had an early warning that we should prepare for severe shortages and certainly expect Christmas deliveries to be badly effected. To avoid mass panic, this hasn’t come from any of the model railways suppliers. We have today ordered our Christmas stock in certain lines and hope for the best. Issue is if it does arrive, does it arrive far too early? Payment and storage then become big issues.

 

Our end end of year accounts have been finalised. We lost tens and tens of thousands of pounds in sales. This and the immediate area was under Lockdown and Tier restrictions longer than anywhere else in England certainly.  We are at the moment under what can loosely be called voluntary restrictions, work from home, avoid non essential travel, don’t travel into this area etc. 

 

Due to the government grants we appear and l must repeat appear to have made a good profit. We have learned that the profit will be taxed at 29%. Apparently that’s including National Insurance. That becomes payable next January, phew....

 

If we could afford to recruit staff, there is still the issue of social distancing between staff. More staff, less room for customers. Oh and offering them a place in a pension scheme.

 

The good news has come from Jason, aka Steamport Southport. Part time workers don’t pay tax. 

 

I just need need to find half a dozen part time jobs.

 

l am not quite sure how this suggestion will help us.

Those are key points.

For people, who in the past have paid tax on a small amount of income from a self employed source through their tax code, the rules have changed to full payment in January. Where the money physically does not exist it still has to be found.  Your use of "appear" is very true. I got caught up in this situation at the start of 2021 and now have to be aware that it will happen again next year.

Bernard

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How are part time workers tax exempt?

 

My wife isn't and she only works three days a week.

 

Is this more a case of people who work 16 hours per week minimum wage won't don't pay tax..........

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2 hours ago, woodenhead said:

How are part time workers tax exempt?

 

My wife isn't and she only works three days a week.

 

Is this more a case of people who work 16 hours per week minimum wage won't don't pay tax..........

 

Ah. But your tax will be added to the value if you live as a couple.

 

It also don't apply if you are working lots of different jobs. It's total income and/or hours.

 

It was something brought in a few years ago. If you earn less than a certain amount you are exempt for Income Tax. It's currently £12,570.

 

Also doesn't apply if you have a large amount of savings or a gilt edged pension. So you can't go down to B&Q and work tax free if you have £100,000 in the bank.

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rates-and-allowances-income-tax/income-tax-rates-and-allowances-current-and-past

 

Might be handy to know if you are a retailer wanting to employ a part time worker or somebody wanting a job that is only for a few hours a week.

 

But for many small retailers and in the hospitality industry virtually everyone is now working part time. Which is why I always dispute the idea that British workers are somehow lazy and don't want to work. Give them the hours and money and they'll do it. 

 

 

It's like this job. Seems ideal until you think about it, hanging around in a games shop all day.

 

So why is it always advertised? They can't fill it as they want teenagers as they are under £5 an hour. Two shifts of four hours at the weekend. That's before you take out things like bus fares, food, drinks, etc. for those two days. You aren't earning anything.

 

Double the amount of hours and they might be interested.

 

Sales Assistant - 8hr Liverpool Lord St
up to £9 p/h

 

https://www.peoplebank.com/pbank/owa/[email protected]&r=INDEED

 

 

Jason

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1 hour ago, Steamport Southport said:

Ah. But your tax will be added to the value if you live as a couple.

 

It also don't apply if you are working lots of different jobs. It's total income and/or hours.

 

It was something brought in a few years ago. If you earn less than a certain amount you are exempt for Income Tax. It's currently £12,570.

 

Also doesn't apply if you have a large amount of savings or a gilt edged pension. So you can't go down to B&Q and work tax free if you have £100,000 in the bank.

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rates-and-allowances-income-tax/income-tax-rates-and-allowances-current-and-past

 

But that is just the personal income tax allowance that every citizen has and it's certainly not new - it's existed for at least the three decades that I've been working.  Everyone can earn £12,750 in the current tax year before they have to start paying income tax, and when they do, they only pay tax on whatever they earn that is in excess of that amount.  It's not that part-time workers are exempt from paying tax but that if someone is only working part-time with a low hourly rate, then they probably won't be earning enough money to reach the income tax threshold (and probably also the National Insurance contribution threshold).  As you say, it's based on total income from all sources, so having multiple part time jobs is likely to mean that you would be earning more than the income tax threshold.  The same would be true if you were receiving a pension from previous employment.

 

However, how much money you have in the bank is immaterial, although the bank interest will be added to your other sources of income.  Also, it doesn't matter whether you are living as a couple - individuals have separate personal allowances and the married couples allowance only applies to those born before a certain date, which I think is something like 1935.  For younger people both parties have their own separate £12,750 allowance.

 

I think the reason a lot employers look for part-time workers, is that if the worker is earning less than the National Insurance threshold (and therefore doesn't pay National Insurance contributions) then the employer won't have to pay National Insurance contributions either.  It appears that as long as an employer pays their staff less than £737 per month, then they don't need to pay employers' National Insurance contributions.  If they pay their staff more, then they have to start paying 13.8% to the Government on whatever extra pay they are giving.  It is therefore cheaper for an employer to pay two people £700 per month, than to pay one person £1,400 per month.

 

https://www.gov.uk/national-insurance-rates-letters

 

As for @Mountain Goat's suggestion of buying second hand, I don't see how that will help retailers.  What retailers need is for us to spend more money with them: not less.  However, we do need to be patient if something that we want is not in stock.  Supply issues are not their fault.  We also need to appreciate that new ways of working may mean that delivery is slightly slower than it might have been in the past.

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Yes. But until recently it was about £4000. Which was just above the amount you get on the dole. It's risen rapidly in the last few years.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_allowance#History

 

How much money you have in the bank is very relevant. You can't claim Tax Credits or Universal Credit if you have more than a certain amount. £16,000 I believe. It's something like £3000 if you want to claim JSA.

 

 

 

The comments were about those earning low wages, not those earning £700 per month. Mountain Goat was seemingly implying that retailers can't attract workers as all the EU workers have gone. That is what I was addressing, nothing more. 

 

Quote

 First due to the restrictions they are unable to recruit more staff 

 

 

Look at Tesco's website loads of jobs. But very few worth taking. However these retailers are complaining they can't get workers as there aren't suitable people. Not true. They just want cheap workers that come in for a few months and disappear. No pension pot, no NI contributions, no Christmas bonuses, no holiday pay, etc.

 

 

But I can understand small retailers not taking people on as it's a lot out of their budget.

 

 

Jason

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24 minutes ago, Steamport Southport said:

Yes. But until recently it was about £4000. Which was just above the amount you get on the dole. It's risen rapidly in the last few years.

 

Look at Tesco's website loads of jobs. But very few worth taking. However these retailers are complaining they can't get workers as there aren't suitable people. Not true. They just want cheap workers that come in for a few months and disappear. No pension pot, no NI contributions, no Christmas bonuses, no holiday pay, etc.

 

 

The Personal Allowance was just over £4000 in 1997 which is hardly recently - and the table you linked to does not show a rapid rise.

 

My son worked for Tesco - part time but he got exactly the same hourly rate of pay as the full time staff - paid the same as a checkout operator even though he was in the car park collecting trolleys, he paid his National Insurance, he was part of the Profit Sharing Scheme, the Pension Scheme and had paid holidays.

.

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47 minutes ago, Steamport Southport said:

Yes. But until recently it was about £4000. Which was just above the amount you get on the dole. It's risen rapidly in the last few years.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_allowance#History

 

Agreed - that was a consequence of one of the Liberal Democrats election pledges back in 2010, which was implemented when we had a Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government.  That is, the personal allowance increased at significantly more than the growth in average earnings over the period 2010 to 2015.  I think the figure of £10,000 for 2014/15 was the Liberal Democrat election pledge in 2010.  In more recent years the rate of growth in the personal allowance has slowed again.

 

47 minutes ago, Steamport Southport said:

How much money you have in the bank is very relevant. You can't claim Tax Credits or Universal Credit if you have more than a certain amount. £16,000 I believe. It's something like £3000 if you want to claim JSA.

 

Okay, in those circumstances, yes, I agree that benefit entitlement is dependent on savings.  However, savings are irrelevant in terms of the income tax threshold that you referred to, which is the same for everyone bar a few at the very top of the income scale who have six figure salaries.  Therefore, savings are not relevant to whether or not you'd be taxed on a part time job in B&Q (other than the interest received on these savings).  However, it would influence whether or not you were entitled to any government benefits in addition to your income from that part-time employment (which may be paid as part of that income).

 

47 minutes ago, Steamport Southport said:

The comments were about those earning low wages, not those earning £700 per month. 

 

I wouldn't like to have to live on £700 per month, so I'd definitely consider £8,400 per annum to be a low wage.

 

47 minutes ago, Steamport Southport said:

Look at Tesco's website loads of jobs. But very few worth taking. However these retailers are complaining they can't get workers as there aren't suitable people. Not true. They just want cheap workers that come in for a few months and disappear. No pension pot, no NI contributions, no Christmas bonuses, no holiday pay, etc.

 

I agree.  One thing that I hadn't realised until my wife took her current job, is that under pension auto-enrolment, the amount that an employee and employer has to contribute to their staff pension is a percentage of salary in excess of the Lower Earnings Limit for National Insurance.  That means that the less generous employers deduct £6,240 from salary before calculating their contribution.  Thankfully my employer pays a contribution based on my whole salary.  However, obviously if you can keep pay below that level, you don't need to make any pension contributions.

 

I agree that there is need to make work pay, which means increasing pay rates and reducing taxation on those at the lower end of society, but that's straying into politics!

Edited by Dungrange
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I like the OP's thinking and can see what he is on about. Very small shops are now often really struggling for all sorts of reasons; it is a difficult time and things are changing. Elsewhere on RMWeb it is the case that there are far more people now that are not willing to give traders a little slack. Yes, if those Traders take your money and you don't get the goods for a very long time, or never, that is bad practice. Even then there may be a good reason that needs to be understood, if it is genuine and 'out of control'; unfortunate but that happens. 

I fear society has become more and more intolerant and unwilling to just be a bit more patient at certain times; shouty people in a shouty world sadly.

You don't know what you have missed till it's gone...........

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1 hour ago, Dungrange said:

 

Agreed - that was a consequence of one of the Liberal Democrats election pledges back in 2010, which was implemented when we had a Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government.  That is, the personal allowance increased at significantly more than the growth in average earnings over the period 2010 to 2015.  I think the figure of £10,000 for 2014/15 was the Liberal Democrat election pledge in 2010.  In more recent years the rate of growth in the personal allowance has slowed again.

 

 

Okay, in those circumstances, yes, I agree that benefit entitlement is dependent on savings.  However, savings are irrelevant in terms of the income tax threshold that you referred to, which is the same for everyone bar a few at the very top of the income scale who have six figure salaries.  Therefore, savings are not relevant to whether or not you'd be taxed on a part time job in B&Q (other than the interest received on these savings).  However, it would influence whether or not you were entitled to any government benefits in addition to your income from that part-time employment (which may be paid as part of that income).

 

 

I wouldn't like to have to live on £700 per month, so I'd definitely consider £8,400 per annum to be a low wage.

 

 

I agree.  One thing that I hadn't realised until my wife took her current job, is that under pension auto-enrolment, the amount that an employee and employer has to contribute to their staff pension is a percentage of salary in excess of the Lower Earnings Limit for National Insurance.  That means that the less generous employers deduct £6,240 from salary before calculating their contribution.  Thankfully my employer pays a contribution based on my whole salary.  However, obviously if you can keep pay below that level, you don't need to make any pension contributions.

 

I agree that there is need to make work pay, which means increasing pay rates and reducing taxation on those at the lower end of society, but that's straying into politics!

Too many employers too willing to exploit workers these days. That's because at certain levels of pay and in certain roles quite a lot of people seem to not be bothered if they are exploited or they don't have the nowse to know that is happening! That's not being political, it is just how it is at the moment and I know as I used to work at that level in semi retirement; women in particular, in low paid PT work, were the real losers in many jobs.

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7 minutes ago, Mallard60022 said:

Too many employers too willing to exploit workers these days. That's because at certain levels of pay and in certain roles quite a lot of people seem to not be bothered if they are exploited or they don't have the nous to know that is happening!

 

I'm not sure that there are many who don't care if they are exploited.  I'd say the issue is that they don't know what they can do about it. They simply accept that from the limited choice of jobs open to them, they have to pick one and they will go for the one that they feel exploits them the least or gives them something that they value (eg the working hours).  In some cases it's Hobson's Choice.

 

The problem is that those in power, who could make changes to reduce exploitation, often don't understand the problems faced by those at the bottom of society, and many of the issues can be complex.  For example, zero hours contracts: are they good or bad?  My own employer uses these occasionally, but only where I'd say it benefits both parties: typically final year students during term time.  We've usually employed them as a full time intern over the summer and offered them a full time graduate position later, but may offer them a zero hours contract during their final year.  That means sometimes they may be in one or even two days a week, but coming up to exams or writing up their dissertation, they are free to say they need to concentrate on their studies.  I therefore think such contracts have advantages, but equally I can see how some employers can exploit people using them to avoid offering a decent package and they are obviously of little value if you have a family to support.  Personally, I think our tax system needs a fairly radical overhaul.

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12 hours ago, Mallard60022 said:

Too many employers too willing to exploit workers these days. That's because at certain levels of pay and in certain roles quite a lot of people seem to not be bothered if they are exploited or they don't have the nowse to know that is happening! That's not being political, it is just how it is at the moment and I know as I used to work at that level in semi retirement; women in particular, in low paid PT work, were the real losers in many jobs.

The simple answer to poor wages and TCs is we are over supplied with people .

 

This country is packed - and with COVID decimating certain industries highly qualified people are competing for unskilled low paid work .

 

I was amazed how badly some stuff is paid . They were advertising for people to be driving examiners full time for £23k a year . I think not .

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On 20/06/2021 at 09:13, rob D2 said:

The simple answer to poor wages and TCs is we are over supplied with people .

 

This country is packed - and with COVID decimating certain industries highly qualified people are competing for unskilled low paid work .

 

I was amazed how badly some stuff is paid . They were advertising for people to be driving examiners full time for £23k a year . I think not .

That's the supply side, but the demand side also affects wages. Just look on RMWeb threads about how many people are happy to buy screws and bits sent from China and delivered for pence. Higher wages has led to huge amounts of off-shoring, whether it's call centres in India, goods from China or staffing the NHS from abroad because it's cheaper to let other countries train skilled staff. 

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On 19/06/2021 at 21:19, Dungrange said:

 

I'm not sure that there are many who don't care if they are exploited.  I'd say the issue is that they don't know what they can do about it. They simply accept that from the limited choice of jobs open to them, they have to pick one and they will go for the one that they feel exploits them the least or gives them something that they value (eg the working hours).  In some cases it's Hobson's Choice.

 

The problem is that those in power, who could make changes to reduce exploitation, often don't understand the problems faced by those at the bottom of society, and many of the issues can be complex.  For example, zero hours contracts: are they good or bad?  My own employer uses these occasionally, but only where I'd say it benefits both parties: typically final year students during term time.  We've usually employed them as a full time intern over the summer and offered them a full time graduate position later, but may offer them a zero hours contract during their final year.  That means sometimes they may be in one or even two days a week, but coming up to exams or writing up their dissertation, they are free to say they need to concentrate on their studies.  I therefore think such contracts have advantages, but equally I can see how some employers can exploit people using them to avoid offering a decent package and they are obviously of little value if you have a family to support.  Personally, I think our tax system needs a fairly radical overhaul.

Well put. Loads of things need overhaul.

I was sort of trying to avoid saying that it is the least qualified and informed that are often the most exploited. However there were plenty of folk I met that didn't give a toss about being in a Union at reduced rates; not relevant and thus they were open to exploitation especially being moved around sites due to understaffing, rather than there being adequate Staff.

OK not all Unions are top notch, that's not for here, however controlled conditions of service and workers' protection rights are disappearing rapidly as many people, even Graduates, are not interested in 'Unions'. Many more so called Self Employed now as well; a number of them have discovered how poor the Benefits System is during Covid.

Decent Employers rarely need to be subjected to any sort of Union intervention. Self Employed is fine when you are fit and well and the work is piling up every week.

P

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On 19/06/2021 at 18:06, Steamport Southport said:

 Mountain Goat was seemingly implying that retailers can't attract workers as all the EU workers have gone. That is what I was addressing, nothing more. 

 No, Mountain Goat does not make that  implication at all....A misread has occurred. 

Mention of the EU by the OP was in regard to import costs [and supply], not personnel.

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On 20/06/2021 at 09:13, rob D2 said:

The simple answer to poor wages and TCs is we are over supplied with people .

 

This country is packed - and with COVID decimating certain industries highly qualified people are competing for unskilled low paid work .

 

I was amazed how badly some stuff is paid . They were advertising for people to be driving examiners full time for £23k a year . I think not .

Welcome to the world of little Ingerland. 

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On 19/06/2021 at 18:51, Dungrange said:

I wouldn't like to have to live on £700 per month

 I manage!

 

OK, so that's roughly what I'm left with from my pension incomes, after rent has been paid.....But, an earned income of 700 a month also would attract local authority benefits regarding rent, council tax, etc.....so the 'real' income might well be more than that?

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