Monday, April 02, 2012

In Deep Water

Never make a mountain out of a molehill, it is said. Quite right, we don't want to get things out of proportion, do we? After all, what possible benefit could there be in distorting stories, particularly when said tales emanate from sources which may be seen as partial. We wouldn't look favourably on such practice at work or with friends & acquaintances.
With the Oldham Echo, however, such qualms & reservations do not apply.
A characteristically breezy & saloon-bar smug Echo editorial last week looked askance at a walk-out by staff employed by services company DHL at Land Rover's Halewood plant.The reason for the walk-out? A laughably trivial one, as far as Oldham Hall Street is concerned: a shortage of water coolers (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/views/our-view/2012/03/28/no-time-for-hot-heads-100252-30640151/ ).
The Echo smirked:
"Come on, we know it's been unseasonably warm but this was no reason for anyone to lose their cool and down tools."
It went on to trot out the usual mantra that is obligatory for those with a logic-defying belief that Merseyside can remain immune from wider economic forces & that it's entirely healthy for the Echo to play the role of chief fluffer for Peel Holdings. You know the sort of thing, don't return to the bad old days, lads, when we were called strike-happy, let's not have a resurgence of that nasty Militancy, etc., etc.
So far, so tiresome & tedious.
However, a spanner in the works lurked in the shape of the online commenters below the piece. One in particular, "Flobalob", introduced the Echo to some much-required accuracy. He/she works for DHL at the plant & declared: "DHL have fed the Echo a load of lies, we have water coolers on the site and DHL decided to halve the water order from 140 bottles a fortnight to just 70. They did this going into summer and after taking on an extra 440 workers. So on Tuesday [March 27th] the site ran out of bottled water and we were told by management that under DHL cost-cutting, they have stopped supplying fresh drinking water."
Anyone au fait with employment legislation will know that this is in clear breach of statutory working regulations. We can presume that Oldham Hall Street is either ignorant of the law, or deliberately mendacious. Being a charitable soul, I'll opt for the former over the latter.
Such a gross journalistic failing needs to be viewed in a wider context. The ailing Echo is clearly in long-term circulation decline (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_newspapers_in_the_United_Kingdom_by_circulationhttp://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=48861).
Moreover, its owner Trinity Mirror, forced to explain to Leveson its own culpability in questionable practices, is not, as they say these days, in a good place (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2012/feb/02/trinity-mirror-sly-bailey-overpaidhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2012/mar/13/slybailey-nationalunionofjournalists).
One can only surmise that the "hot heads" in question dwell at the top of the Oldham Echo's parent company, the heat (alas, no light) from the corporate cranium being dutifully sustained in the paper's editorial office. I'd suggest a cool beaker of water for each of them. Assuming there's enough to go round.  

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