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I'm a married mum who loves chocolate & music & having an opinion on just about everything! E-Mail summermama@hotmail.co.uk

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Good News We've Been Hoping For!

There’s a huge feeling of relief in our house at the moment, I am very pleased to say. The Hubby hasn’t been made redundant after all. There has been a last-minute reprieve by the company who purchased the store he used to work at, and the staff have been taken on by the new store. They’re also in the DIY business and they’re also a very well known brand name, and finally things are looking positive.

Last week, when I wrote the post about his impending unemployment, we were worrying like crazy how things would turn out. A conference call on Thursday last week between the new owners of the store and the previous ones confirmed that the staff would be taken on with no break in their contract (no redundancy) Phew!!

It wasn’t very clear at that point, though: It seemed as though the new store had been forced into it, and one of the major worry points was the fact that the staff were told it would be for a 6 month period. Many staff (The Hubby included) were concerned that if the new store had been forced into taking them on when they didn’t really want them, they would make life very awkward in an effort to push out the staff from the old store: Also, what difference would it make if they weren’t made redundant now only for redundancy to come in 6 months time? In addition to that, in 6 months time would it be counted as ‘voluntary’ redundancy, in which case they wouldn’t be entitled to any kind of pay-out? Would the staff have to endure all manner of hell while the new store attempted to push them out, having to give notice in the end rather than being made redundant, and once again loosing any kind of redundancy money?

The store under its former company name closed the shutters for the last time on Saturday lunchtime. The store was emptied of stock by this point (people had been purchasing trolley loads of goods for £5, kitchen cupboards for £2 each, lightbulbs for 50p each) and there was literally just the racking left on the shop floor (oh, and the tired old lino). It was a sad way for the store to end.

Still, on Sunday evening, the staff were in the mood for some drinks: To drown their sorrows, perhaps, but it was also a ‘farewell’ to the old company name and their way of saying goodbye to some staff members who had already found new jobs (and one or two who have decided that it is a good time to simply retire altogether). Our small market town was descended upon by the 30-something staff and their partners, for a meal of fish & chips, some games of snooker and more vodka, lager, and more notably Jaeger Bombs, than should be consumed in a single night.

Monday morning was a strange old morning, not least because The Boy was with his grandparents overnight, so The Hubby and I got the first opportunity since his birth for a lie in together, followed by a sausage sandwich each for breakfast and lots of strong tea. The Hubby should have worked on Sunday, but of course as the store had shut a day earlier than planned he’d had an extra day off already, and by Monday he was shuffling his feet and wondering what his week would entail.

Tuesday morning was the morning of The Big Meeting. All the staff met up the road at our local McDonalds for , and those that have cars drove the rest of them to the next town on from ours (a larger town) for a meeting in the new companies store over there. The meeting commenced at , and I sat at home with The Boy nervously awaiting news. At lunchtime, The Hubby texted me to say that the initial group meeting had gone a lot better than he’d hoped for, and he was due to go in for a one to one meeting shortly. He arrived home around four in the afternoon and the relief was immediately obvious.

At this point, let me just say, The Hubby is a very laid back character. He’s not one to show stress or nerves, he isn’t one to say if he’s feeling anxious or worried, but in the days until this meeting he had been a very different character to normal. Still not actually showing stress or telling me he was feeling anxious, he’d not been sleeping well, had been less tolerant of our dogs bad behaviour (Dog Borstal is very tempting with our two at the best of times!) As slim as he’s always been, he’d even lost weight in the run up to this meeting on Tuesday.

He walked through the door on Tuesday afternoon looking visibly more relaxed, happier and more content. He came in and I asked if he was OK and he grinned and said, “Yep, it all went well,” and proceeded to tell me all about it. As I said in my previous blog, I was trying to think positive, think that maybe this could be the best thing all round … Well, it seems like it actually might be.

The new company has a higher base rate of pay than the old company: They offer more holiday to their staff: They do store bonus schemes, where if a store exceeds their targets for a period all the staff benefit in their pay packet: The training is much better, more thorough, and equivalent to a much higher level even outside of the company: If they have to send staff to other stores for training, or away for courses, they will foot the bill for everything from the petrol costs or bus fare all the way to meal allowance and hotel accommodation. The new company apologised profusely for not being able to get in touch with the staff prior to the point that they did: It seems that legally speaking, although the old company was definitely going to close, had the new company approached staff to discuss employment with them it would still count as ‘poaching’ and they could still get into considerable trouble with this.

The new company have told the staff that they can sign onto a contract under the new company at whatever point they feel like; or not, if they so desire, and they can remain under their original contract from the previous store indefinitely. For staff that have been there a long time, this may be more beneficial, but for staff like The Hubby and others that have been there less than 10 years, the new company contract (at this point in time) appears to be a much better idea; Although before any decisions are made, The Hubby wants a copy of the new company contract to look over and be sure before he makes any decisions.

Since the meeting on Tuesday, the new store manager has phoned The Hubby daily to update him on various different things; Originally the training was going to commence next Monday at a store which is about an hours travel away, which posed a problem given the amount of staff that don’t drive or have their own cars. The new manager said he’d try to get mini-buses scheduled to collect them, but he phoned today and said that hadn’t worked out, so he’d changed the training location to the store they were in on Tuesday for their meeting, so it’s not half as far to travel and it’s possible by public transport, too. (The one thing about living around here is that public transport borders between non-existent and barely-there). He’s spoken to The Hubby about the new deputy manager, who used to work at the store The Hubby works at under the old company and who wasn’t a particular favourite, but who apparently has been waxing lyrical about The Hubby; the new managers words were, “He has nothing but high praise for you” which made The Hubby glow like a 60 watt light bulb.

The Hubby has also been advised about what his job role will equate to in the new company, and what that means for his future training, how they perceive his job progressing in the coming years, and they have a good idea of what they’d like and The Hubby is very happy to have such structure and such safe knowledge that the company is investing in him: The old company unfortunately made lots of empty promises.

On Wednesday we enjoyed a day with The Boy, relaxing at home and enjoying our new found chill zone: On Thursday I went into the office, so The Hubby and The Boy went out together with the pushchair and had some Father-Son bonding time. Today the three of us went out again together, fed the ducks and wandered around town in the sunshine, relishing these days together because we’re safe in the knowledge now that next week he has a job to go to, and our next mortgage payment can be made and The Boy will have nappies and food!

This weekend The Hubby wants to concentrate on some gardening; We’re hoping for good weather as we’d also like to go and visit my parents in their holiday home at the coast for the day, and enjoy the last couple of days before his four weeks of training starts. At the end of the training, he’ll have a couple of weeks off, and then the staff will be back in their store under the new company name at the beginning of September to stock: By the end of September, the store will open under the new company name and business will continue.

I can’t tell you how much stress, strain and worry this whole situation has caused us: I kept trying to be positive, thinking to myself well it could have been worse, he could have been made unemployed last July (when I was heavily pregnant with The Boy and we’d have been up s**t creek without a paddle) But now we know what’s going on (and he’s happy with what’s going on) I feel so much more relaxed already. Knowing he’s happier makes such a difference to me: I hate when he’s feeling stressed or down, and it worries me that it might kick him off into that black pit of depression (he’s not been down that road for some years now, the same as he’s not been a drinker for some years now, but it’s not the sort of thing you ever ‘get over’ it’s the sort of thing you’re always in recovery from).

So starting next week he’s off for training and it will be business as usual for me & The Boy at home on our own five days a week. Truth be told, as nice as it is to have The Hubby around for support with The Boy (especially this week, as The Boy has been very miserable with his teething) I think it will be even nicer once he’s back into a proper routine with his work and he’s got something to focus on each day rather than pottering about the house with me and The Boy.

I know we’re very lucky; It could have been very different and I’m so grateful that it has turned out this way. Many families have been affected by the recession and job losses and I really feel for them – I didn’t think we had anything to worry about, but it just goes to show you never can tell.

Anyway, I’m going to sign off now, as I want an early night (Got a total of about five hours broken sleep last night thanks to The Boy waking and screaming every couple of hours because of his teething).

Catch you all soon x

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