The Incumbent: Chapter 34

Summary:It's an intricate web of murder plots, government conspiracies and rampant tanning. Oh, and the future of the entire nation.

A couple of people from the legal department looked aghast. No one had ever been sacked before, and they weren't quite sure how that actually worked. Sure, Woodburner had sacked a couple of people, but nobody really paid attention to anything he said, and those people all continued to show up for work as usual.

'Perhaps someone from the human resources team could sort out the termination paperwork,' said Jones, sensing the shock that had reverberated around the room, but feeling it was probably a useful show of strength.

Woodburner had sacked a couple of people, but nobody really paid attention, and those people all continued to show up for work.

Of course, there was nobody from HR present. They were on a particularly cushy training course on 'Relaxation Techniques for Senior Managers', which basically entailed spending five days lounging around a pool at a luxury resort in the Seychelles.

Had they been at the meeting, they would perhaps have advised Jones against such a bold move, particularly as the man he had chosen to start his sacking spree with — who was bundled out of the room with a final muffled cry of 'why' — was VastTel's head of network infrastructure. He was basically the only one who really understood how many of VastTel's services operated.

Still, as far as Jimi Jones was concerned, this was just the beginning. He agreed with the report that had said three quarters of the workforce could go without any impact on productivity. Many more would have to go. He wanted to say as much, in a gentle, caring way, of course, but it was hard to regain the attention of the shaken crowd. He spoke briefly about how consultancy reports were showing the potential for efficiencies, without being specific about the magnitude of the cuts he planned. He explained how he was yet to formulate the strategy for a leaner organisation, but promised there would be consultation along the way. Of course, companies always say that. And, of course, they do consult you when they ask which bank account you'd like your final pay cheque to go in to.

Anyone whose surname started with the letters A to R would go ... it seemed fair and difficult to challenge.

Jones had given some thought to how redundancies could be enforced. Basing it on capability — keeping the best people and getting rid of the worst — seemed arduous and, besides, he was quickly figuring out that there were no best people. Everyone fell into the same basket of incompetence, so a more random means would be just as effective: for example, issuing redundancies based on the first letter of people's surnames. Basically, anyone whose surname started with the letters A to R would go, leaving the company filled with the back end of the alphabet. It seemed fair and difficult to challenge. People could marry their way out of redundancy, but that was the only loophole he could foresee.

He decided, though, that precisely how the cutbacks would be applied could wait for another day — possibly tomorrow. In the meantime, he opened the session up to questions.

'It's 5 o'clock,' came one from the increasingly cantankerous crowd. 'Are we getting paid overtime for this meeting?'

Jones scoffed at the idea.

'Of course not,' he said, and was about to explain that they were senior people, well compensated for their work, when he noticed that the room had entirely cleared. No one at VastTel worked after 5pm unless they were getting paid for it.

Topics: Telcos


Phil Dobbie has a wealth of radio and business experience. He started his career in commercial radio in the UK and, since coming to Australia in 1991, has held senior marketing and management roles with Telstra, OzEmail, the British Tourist Authority and other telecommunications, media, travel and advertising businesses.

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