Socialist Worker

B&Q bosses are a bunch of Muppets

Issue No. 1915

Tim cartoon

Tim cartoon


MANAGERS at B&Q’s store in East Kilbride, Scotland, were rushing about with excitement last week.

They had dreamed up a marvellous new idea when they went to “B&Q University”, the company’s training centre near Glasgow.

Instead of workers saying “hello” to each other, they are meant to sing the Muppets’ song “Mahna, Mahna”. One should sing, “Mahna, Mahna,” and other workers should respond, “Doo-doo, be-doo doo”.

This scheme was pioneered by manager David Brent in the BBC series The Office. Perhaps B&Q didn’t realise it, but this was a satirical comedy making fun of precisely such management idiocies.

Anyway, bosses at East Kilbride thought they were onto a winner. One worker said, “The managers spent the rest of the day singing the song as if it was some kind of ritualistic chant or company song.

“They were all getting high on the idea as if they were all on drugs.”

A B&Q spokesperson said, “An icebreaker, such as a different way to say good morning, is a great way to energise staff first thing and get everyone working together as a team.”

At another B&Q store in Scotland, store managers get staff to perform bizarre chanting rituals before work.

Whether this all helps create “the team” is not quite so certain. A worker at the East Kilbride store—due to open towards the end of the year—says, “There is no way I will be joining in with this. If people talk to me like this I’ll be more liable to tell them to piss off.”


Express blames the poor

THE DAILY Express has recently been running a campaign against a new scapegoat for all society’s ills—the uninsured driver.

An article in the Express revealed that many of those convicted of not having insurance “were on benefits or unemployed” and, even worse, “many live in an inner city, often on a council estate”. Yuk!

But perhaps strangest of all was the paper’s list of “uninsured hot spots”. The list read, “Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside, London, Northumbria, South and West, Yorkshire, South Wales, West Midlands.”

That covers about three quarters of the population of England, plus most of Wales.


When drinking Pepsi is rebellious

THE ORGANISERS of the Athens Olympic Games are making sure spectators drink and eat the right things. They can be barred for taking a sip of Pepsi or a bite from a Burger King Whopper.

Strict regulations dictate that spectators may be refused admission to events if they are carrying food made by companies that did not sponsor the games.

Fans will be allowed into the Olympic complex if they are drinking Avra, a Greek mineral water owned by Coca-Cola, which paid $60 million for the privilege of being one of the main sponsors.

Officials are under orders not to let in rival brands’ bottles unless the labels are removed.

Staff will be on the lookout for T-shirts, hats and bags displaying the unwelcome logos of non-sponsors.

Those arousing suspicion will be required to wear their T-shirts inside out!

The rules are also designed to stop crowd members sitting next to each other wearing clothing with letters that spell out a political message.

The restrictions, which Amnesty International has criticised, are even harsher for the thousands of stewards and volunteers working at Athens 2004.

“We have to provide our own shoes, and we were told that we shouldn’t wear trainers with a bright logo from a sports brand which is not an official sponsor,” said one.


It’s a flying shame

THE WEDDING of Nozma Khanom and Rehan Miah was treated by most of the press as a “feelgood” story about a couple getting married on an a vintage Dakota plane.

But the flight fell foul of the hysteria about terror attacks.

The plane was scheduled to fly over Canary Wharf, St Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben and the Tower of London.

Scotland Yard went into action the moment it learnt that a plane with 30 Muslims on board was to fly over such sites.

A Special Branch officer was sent to Biggin Hill airport to quiz everyone concerned.

Each of the 30 guests was vetted, and the aircrew and airport authorities were interrogated by the officer.

The couple had earlier planned to get married in a Muslim ceremony at St Paul’s, but when permission was denied they decided to get married in the plane while it flew over the cathedral.


In this week - 80 years ago - 1924

The National Minority Movement (NMM) held its launch conference.

The movement, inspired by the Communist Party of Great Britain, argued for a united response to resist attacks on living standards.

It was an attempt to build a rank and file movement.

By 1926 the NMM’s conference was attended by delegates representing a million workers.

However, there were arguments from the start about the attitude to left wing union leaders.


Figure it out - $1.65 billion

The profits of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation multinational over the last year. The figure is up a massive 57 percent from the previous year


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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 21 Aug 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1915
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