Just imagine, Joan, that when you go into your office tomorrow a new Ministerial contract is lying on your desk. You didn’t know that the terms of your public service employment were being changed and it states very clearly at the top that this new contract is non-negotiable.
Just imagine that your new terms of employment will be as follows:
1. You will now be required to work 365 days per year.
2. Your working day will average 18 hours but you must be on call 24 hours per day.
3. You will have no statutory right to holidays, tea breaks, meal breaks or sick leave.
4. Your pay is to be reduced to the level of statutory State benefits and will be non-negotiable.
5. Your personal and/or professional or academic skills will not be recognised or rewarded in any way.
6. You have no right of redress regarding this contract.
7. It will take effect immediately.
8. There will be no effective help available to you no matter how difficult you find it to meet the terms of your new contract.
9. This new contract is to be managed by a conglomerate of State departments and their ancillary bodies. Hereinafter, this conglomerate will be referred to as ‘The System.’ Those within ‘The System’ will retain all statutory employment rights such as holidays, appropriate rates of pay and a generous range of nice little perks.
10. The employment of those within ‘The System’ is entirely dependent on the existence of those, such as yourself, who are henceforth permanently under the auspices, terms and conditions of the non-negotiable minimum contract.
Just imagine that you now find it extremely difficult to access and obtain even the most minimal rights, remunerations and resources to which you are entitled under your new contract.
Just imagine that when you try to do so you encounter delays, obstructions and seemingly interminable prevarications from those who manage your new contract.
Just imagine that you have no recognised Trade Union to assist you in these difficulties.
Just imagine that if you attempt to question or highlight these practices or are in any way critical of them your new contract will be suffixed with definitions taken from an approved systemic list e.g. ‘troublemaker’, ‘difficult’, ‘awkward’, ‘ungrateful’, etc. Someone might even call the Gards.
This visualisation exercise is most effective when undertaken alone Joan, and in a state of extreme exhaustion, preferably in the absence of any adequate financial resources.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF CARERS JOAN.......now imagine that your heart breaks frequently for the person you are caring for.
Now imagine that this contract will never end.