Monday, September 22, 2014

Where Are Our Pay Reviews (Pay Raises)?

I say, I say, this really is a self-explanatory e-mail to the Weaver Street Market Co-operative General Manager, Ruffin Slater:

"Hey Ruffin,

Once again, really good and interactive store meetings the other week. Which is why I am a little puzzled. All the presentation seemed to be that, financially, the co-op is doing quite well at the moment. I had my concerns. But the figures provided all said otherwise.

So, I'm wondering if there is any reason why we've not yet had pay reviews? Is it just busy delay? Or was there a decision? Of course, if the latter, bearing in mind it potentially affects employee pay and benefits, this should have been a decision that included employees, and the store meetings(s) would have offered a perfect time for such inclusion.

Regardless, can you please confirm to me that, whenever the pay reviews are held, any pay raises will be backdated to the same date they normally occur each year, being the beginning of September?

Many thanks,


In the meantime, so that we have more than one poor sod chasing this stuff the whole time, don't forget, you still have two weeks (until Sunday, October 5) to vote for Byron Wall in this year's election for a WSM Worker-Owner-Director.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

POP VOXX Update #45

As the more avid of you will know, with the exception of performing with my Weaver Street Market mates at #Weavestock in July, my musical alter ego, Pop Voxx / Geoff Gilson, has been on sabbatical, merrily putting together some bits and pieces I hope may provide me with the opportunity to do my music full-time. That would be along with living lavishly off the royalties due from the publication of The Book next May.

Pause for hilarity to subdue. Or thunderous applause. Excuse me, are these your knickers?

The gameplan for #PopVoxx involves various levels of options, beginning with (A) Let's give the pop charts a shot, Pharrell darling, that's NOT how we do the Kisses Dance. Wending a tortured path through possibilities like a national tour of Greek fraternities or gay clubs, the spring break scene. To an (F), which is getting residency at a resort or work on a cruise ship. And ending somewhere down about (X) with ... I barely want the words to pass my lips ... children's entertainer. Yup. That sound was Fred Rogers turning. But, you know, very remunerative ...

Anyway. Bits and pieces. On the (A) end of the scale, I am putting together an 11-song CD, pretty much with the songs with which you lot are familiar, with the wonderful team at Nightsound Studios - Chris Wimberley, Meghan Puryear, Adrianna Villa and Geneva Walata. Now, I say 'familiar.' What is truly exciting for me is that the songs will sound nothing like the Casio-backed tracks you've been doing the light fandango to at my gigs. We are finally managing to extricate from my brain the sound that's been rattling around in there for the best part of 30 years, fermenting and maturing. All I can say at this stage is, think Surfer Rock meets heavy Bossa Nova goes to lunch with Club. I keep calling it Electronic Dance Rock. And Club Beat. Yeah. Really helps, eh?

At the same time, I've been working on (F), by getting a fantastic local videographer, Travis Stewart, to put together a short highlights reel for agents, resorts, cruise ships, Las Vegas, Jennifer Lawrence Nude Selfies (who put that in here?). That video is now attached. Funny thing. Everything in the pop world seems to work in chunks of three and a half minutes ...

More to come, stay tuned ...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Clean and Sober

Twenty years ago today, I entered alcohol rehab. Save for one early relapse, I have been clean and sober ever since.

The sober is the easy part. Detox, and stay that way. The clean is more difficult. Addressing the issues that make us want to escape. That is a lifetime's work. And it never gets easier.

There is a trade-off. Hard work. Painful self-analysis. Sacrifice. In my case, abandoning a whole lifestyle, in order to reduce stress. And daily panic attacks, as I am assailed by the fears and the demons I had sought to escape with the seductive anaesthetic of alcohol.

In return, I got my brain back. I've written a book. Got a CD on the way. And I've discovered there is much to live for. So much beauty. So many beautiful people. Not least myself.

It is not an easy road. Which is why so many pause. Take a side road. Or turn back. Never judge them. I don't. No-one can know how difficult this path is for someone else. We are none of us alike. The flip side of the trade-off is that, for some, it is too much.

We are terribly complex and fragile entities. It never ceases to amaze me that I am able to walk and talk at the same time. I truly believe that God is a comedian. And sometimes the punch-lines don't work.

When they don't, the allure of escape overwhelms the serenity of tortured sobriety. I am lucky. I am blessed with resources and friends who make every day worth living to the full.

But I have my moments of doubt. That is why we talk about a day at a time. It is not a surrender to weakness. It is a rallying cry of supreme hope and courage. For those for whom the cry rallies no more, I have only the most fervent hope that they have found a final serenity elsewhere.

And now? I'm going to take some Jennifer Lawrence-style selfies for you lot to hack ...

Saturday, September 6, 2014

"What Do You See ... ??"

We just had the most interactive annual employee store meeting in Weaver Street Market Co-operative since 2007. We were actually asked what we wanted. Over and over. Hence, the regular questions from the WSM General Manager, Ruffin Slater, "what do you see?" and "what do you want?"

Now, granted, in our store meeting, we kind of tore up Ruffin's agenda, and substituted our own. But, we were only able to do this because he set the scene by saying the meeting was about our making a contribution, being involved.

Well. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Maybe the continual whining about co-op policy demanding we workers be a part of decision-making has sunk in? In any event, it was gratifying.

By the end of the meeting, an interesting symmetry had developed. One or two of us were making the point that we wanted more involvement in decision-making, at all levels, department, store and co-op, because the co-op is half-owned by workers, because co-op policy demands it, and because it makes sense - as in, workers are much more likely to be invested in and want successfully to implement decisions in which they have been involved.

At the same time, you can't be sensibly involved in decision-making unless you have the fullest information upon which to base a sensible contribution. Ruffin was all about improving the flow of proper information to we workers going forward.

The problem still remains that, although we had a full consultation exercise among workers in the co-op in 2007, to determine which types of decisions should include employees, we never got around to discussing how we would be involved.

So, at the end of the meeting, when Ruffin was asking us what consultation we would like in the future, I suggested an employee and manager task force, to review decision-making in the co-op, at all levels, and come up with ideas for how we could institute structures and processes which would encourage a more regular inclusion of employees in decision-making.

Of course, a suggestion isn't the be all and end all. It has to happen. But, I'm grateful that we got to a point where I could make the suggestion, in an understandable context, in front of my peers. Now, I need to follow up. So. Nice e-mail to Ruffin:

"Hey Ruffin,

Wonderful meeting today. As I keep saying, the most interactive employee co-op meeting since 2007. Thank you to you and to everyone else for the hard work in preparation and presentation.

I think there was a symmetry to the meeting overall. On the one hand, I was able to make my point, in front of others, that there is co-op policy which demands that employees are involved in decision-making, that sets out which decisions, and also requires that employees be involved in the design of the process that includes them in decision-making.

On the other hand, there is precious little point in including employees in decision-making if they do not have the necessary data to make informed decisions. And your interactive presentation today was extremely helpful in visiting precisely that sort of ongoing data that will make for informed decisions.

Which now leaves the next step in this process, as I see it. And that is my request for a task force of employees and managers to consider options for the processes which will better and more regularly allow employees to be included in the decision-making that co-op policy demands, at department, store and co-op level.

I look forward to your action on this. And I will be following up - as I'm sure you would expect! I agree with you. We have a period of at least a few years, when we can fine tune all sorts of aspects about the co-op. I think that including employees in decision-making invests them in those decisions, and encourages we employees to be more interested and productive. And the time for laying the groundwork for better decision-making processes is also right now.

Many thanks again.

All the best,