One of my photos

Meeting Mandelson

November 13th, 2009 · Posted by Skuds in Politics/Work · No Comments · Politics, Work

Peter Mandelson at this year's party conference - still waiting for photos from his visit to Crawley

Peter Mandelson at this year's party conference - still waiting for photos from his visit to Crawley

Today was the long-awaited official opening of the new site where I work.  Personally I have been in the new buildings for just over a year, but the industrial building with all the labs and test and manufacturing facilities took longer to finish, and now the company has decided that enough of our operations have moved in that it is valid to get officially opened, and it was Lord Mandelson, First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, President of the Board of Trade, Lord President of the Council, Politician of the Year and Professor of  the Dark Arts who came along to do the honours.

As you can imagine, this caused more than a little excitement and disruption in the workplace.The way our company is organised, there are several individual companies or divisons of the group sharing the site, so all of their managing directors were on-site, as well as the overall managing director for the UK, with HQ and divisional PR people all in a flap.  They had a carefully worked-out plan for the visit, with timings for every little thing (eg “0952-0954 – refreshments offered”) which all got scuppered from the start when the train from London got delayed by half an hour.

Part of the schedule was a meeting with the local trade union reps.  I was really glad to see that included on the itinerary: Labour ministers and MPs visiting a workplace should go out of their way to meet the unions, who are often an integral part of making a company function properly.

When everything started to to run late we fully expected our allotted time to get seriously curtailed or even bumped completely.  We had an eight-minute time slot, which does not sound like a lot, but considering the VIP schedule included a demonstration of about 8 major products in a 16-minute slot, it was quite generous.  It was also the last item on the tour so ripe for getting dropped.

In the end the VIP party did still spend some time with us.  Lord Mandelson seemed to be genuinely impressed by the range and scale of our operations.  He asked us whether industrial relations were good at our company (they are), and we took the opportunity to remind him how many local jobs are directly affected when the government moves a major project like the new aircraft carriers or T45 destroyers to the right or scales it down.

I think we were preaching to the converted though.  Hope so anyway.  Lord M was also very accommodating in posing for a few special photographs, especially when our local MP told him I am a parliamentary candidate.

The biggest surprise was when our little union delegation got to the appointed place we found a great big display sign for Unite the Union.   We didn’t even know we had one.  Must have been the work of the corporate PR people. In itself that speaks volumes about the good industrial relations we have – or have we just got them well trained?

I think it was a good day for everybody.  The senior management got their site openend and were able to remind the government about what a big player we are in government work, the union got its profile raised a little, I got some photos that might come in handy for my election campaign, our local MP got to bring yet another senior minister to the town, and Mandelson himself got to meet all us nice people and had refreshments offered for two minutes.

Bit of a bummer having to wear a suit on a Friday, but such are the small sacrifices I will make for the movement.

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