In negotiations, the union side has again raised the vexed issue of “mashed potatoes” or “purée”. Management is accused of stalling on this despite the issue being raised repeatedy, first at local level and then as a formal complaint (“Waah, I don’t want!) Assurances from management that the new year would see a full and final resolution of this issue by the introduction of a daily sandwich in substitution for the hot meal offered by the school were characterised by the union side as “too little, too late” (or words to this effect). On the more general issue, the stand-off between unions and management on the question of productivity and time-keeping continues. The unions threaten a walk out if management insists on the proposed frequency of school attendance (“Do I have to go every day Mummy?”). In its opening offer, management has suggested parking the issue for two weeks over the Christmas period. The union side has not yet given an official response but early indications are that this will be insufficient to stop drastic action.
Middle management fears that if school starts up again in January without any agreement, industrial relations will become stretched to breaking point. The union side could retaliate with, at best, a go-slow and, at worst, an all-out cessation of co-operation in the matter of morning dressing. A work to rule is already in operation (e.g. the Union side refuses to wear jumpers as these are not part of the basic clothing package; the union wishes to go out clad only in underpants and vest). In this explosive context, the slightest friction (e.g. over shoes) can quickly get out of hand.
Negotiations are scheduled to continue indefinitely with neither side showing any willingness to compromise on the core issue. Management maintains that ongoing schooling is essential to the viability of operations and without daily school attendance, the future of the project is at serious risk. The union side, for its part, chastises management as being “a big meanie”.