CALL CENTRE boss Chey Garland was runner-up in the businesswoman of the year award. She claims to promote a 'strong focus on the development of staff' at her call centre in Hartlepool, and has a 'passion for people'. But her staff tell a different story.
The Hartlepool Mail revealed that 'one employee claimed it was the worst place he had ever worked. Employees' every movement, including toilet breaks, are monitored by a Big Brother style surveillance system.' One woman was given a written warning-for clocking off 45 seconds early.
Another worker wrote, 'No one can imagine what it's like until you have worked there. Garland's call centre is supposed to be one of the top five call centres in Europe. But we are rewarded by our employer by being paid one of the lowest wages of call centres in the country and refused holidays. We are not informed about shifts enough time in advance, and are given the daftest break times.'
Liberals stir up
'YOU DON'T have to answer the question, 'What's in it for me if I vote for you?' or worse, 'What will you do?'... Those questions should only be answered by ruling groups.' So Liberal Democrat canvassers have been told.
The party that claims it is the one you can trust says, 'Don't be afraid to exaggerate. Be wicked, act shamelessly, stir endlessly.'
This advice is in an official document called 'Effective Opposition'. It has been circulated to Lib Dem candidates, councillors and activists. 'If the council is doing something badly, public expressions are always of outrage'-unless they are Liberal councils, of course.
THE European Union is no cuddly alternative to the World Trade Organisation. For years the WTO claimed basic services like water would not be subject to forced liberalisation. Under new EU guidelines water will be treated just like any other commodity, after proposals were drawn up by the European Service Network. The network is packed with executives from 50 financial companies, like Goldman Sachs, Sun Alliance and HSBC bank, and is chaired by the chair of Barclays Bank.
WE ARE always being told to remember the victims of crime. Well, it seems that the police would do well to take this advice. A 77 year old had her bag snatched in Keighley, Yorkshire.
Having lost all her money, she went into the local police station to ask for 20p for her bus fare home. The police refused to help her.
Thanks to P Wilson in Shipley for this story.
Maximum profits for micro input
THE government's internet headquarters are coming in for some flak. Under a secret deal with Microsoft, the computer giant takes ownership of technology developed by the government. Microsoft is also free to profit from selling the technology on to other countries.
The government admitted, 'We have granted them a licence to exploit our intellectual property rights and we get 25 percent of what they sell.' So the taxpayer funds development of technology and Microsoft, one of the richest companies in the world, gets to make huge profits from it.
Thanks to Jon Wedderburn from north London for this story.
Playing with Blair's no fun
TONY BLAIR likes to see himself as an international action man. US toy makers Herobuilder is marketing a Tony Blair doll. It comes complete with military uniform (or is that a boy scout's gear he is wearing?) and sold alongside a dolly of his pal George W Bush.
Unfortunately, sales of the Tony doll are reported to be a heroic failure. Maybe a Tony Blair poodle dog would have gone down better.
Thanks to Martin Chapman from South Wales for this story.
THE chancellor, Gordon Brown, has appointed Derek Wanless to report on what the NHS needs. But what would he know about it?
The ex-head of NatWest Bank has private healthcare for himself and his family. When asked if he would ever use the NHS he replied, 'I don't know. 'If there were nice rooms, a two-week waiting list and decent food it might be attractive.'
Lording over us
JUST A year ago 15 'people's peers' took their seats in the House of Lords. No ordinary people were selected, and the 'people's peers' have not been turning up for votes.
Lord Brown, head of BP, has made one speech and not voted. It's about the same with Lord Sutherland, who is vice-chancellor of Edinburgh University. He's so posh he asked, 'What do you have to do to be ordinary?' And he even believes that 'you couldn't live on the expenses if it was a full time job'. Each lord pockets £234 a day expenses.
Things they say
'WE'RE getting into a lot of trouble because everyone looks up now how much is given to the Labour Party and makes an assumption that because they have got some connection in their business life there is automatically some kind of sleaze.'
JOHN PRESCOTT, deputy prime minister
'PRESCOTT has lived in a cheap union flat for years but has done nothing for the union. He should do the decent thing and move out.'
Rail workers' RMT UNION OFFICIAL
'IT IS good to kill a country from time to time-that seems to be the message the international community is trying to send to debt-burdened countries in its handling of the crisis in Argentina.'
CHARLOTTE DENNY, Guardian columnist
'I WANT her to be prime minister, and you have to go to a posh school for that.'
NOEL GALLAGHER of Oasis on why he's sending his daughter to a private school
'EVER SINCE I've left no one's talked to me.'
MO MOWLAM, former New Labour minister, on her experience after leaving government
'THE ROYAL family would have been in a better state had the queen taken half as much trouble about the rearing of her children as she has about the breeding of her horses.'
UNNAMED PRIVATE SECRETARY
'THEY were extremely polite. I don't think they knew who we were at all.'
THE QUEEN in 1954 on being reunited with her children after a six-month world tour