Your boss has got it in for you. You made a joke at the pub last week that didn’t go down too well……. He was lording it over you all as usual, King of the Hill, life and soul of his own party. No one had invited him, the rest of you just wanted to unwind and have a laugh together. But he heard about the gathering and just turned up anyway.

He needed taking down a peg. Ever since management had said they were going to reduce the size of the team, he’d been swanning round like Alan Sugar, all He-Man “I have the power” type scenario. He’s even joked a couple of times about “staying in his good books” if you wanted to keep your job. Only a joke. Of course.

You’d all had a drink, he was acting like one of the gang, so you treated him like anyone else, what’s the problem? He made a joke, someone else made a joke, you made a joke. Big Deal. His laugh DOES sound like two donkey’s having sex, why should you be punished for telling the truth?!

He was fine at the time, of course. Laughed along. But you caught ‘that look’ ten minutes later that you knew meant life was going to be hard for you for the next few weeks.

You’ve only had one verbal warning in 4 years of working there. Your stats are above average: not as good as the Level 4’s, on their never-ending tests and trials for promotion, but not the worst by far. You know the job inside out, you do enough to keep them off your back.

So, when he calls you into the office, you still think it might be something else, some royal command you have to do for him (like organise the birthday collection for another ‘valued team member’ that he won’t put in for). So, you are still shocked when he says

“I’m sorry but we’re going to have to let you go. Your stats have been slipping and I’ve become concerned your negative attitude is affecting the team. You can work your notice period, or we can waive it if you’d rather leave today. I’m sorry, nothing i can do.”

By the look on his face you know this has more to do with his wounded pride than your attitude or performance.

Your face goes red, you think about about your baby boy, the bills, the rent – you start to panic…..

How does the story end?

If you are not in a union, this is how it ends:

Your face goes red, you think about about your baby boy, the bills, the rent – you start to panic….. you look him straight in the eye, your gaze misty with tears…. “please, listen…. the pub, I’m sorry”. He cuts you off with a sad smile and gloating eyes – “this is nothing personal”…. There is nothing you can do.

If you are in a union, this is how it ends:

Your face goes red, you think about about your baby boy, the bills, the rent – you start to panic….. then straighten in your chair. “I think you are doing this for personal reasons, and that’s not fair” you resolutely say. “My stats are good enough, I haven’t done anything wrong, so I think this is unfair dismissal. I’m getting the union involved”. It’s no sure thing, you’re relying on a technical dispute over whether he has followed policy and procedures correctly, and you’re lucky you’ve been employed for over 2 years, but at least there’s a chance of keeping your job.

If you’re in the IWW, forget about the end, this is how the story starts:

You’re all down the pub, having a laugh and unwinding. The boss isn’t invited and he wouldn’t come anyway – he’s still spitting mad after catching you passing round your mash-up of his donkey laugh on your phone. You could see in his eyes he would have LOVED to have the power to sack you there and then, just for wounding his pride, but thank god those days were gone. You and he knew: one more incident of him abusing his position and the whole team would walk out on wildcat strike again. If they tried to sack them for the wildcat strike the whole place would walk out.

So, he had to laugh and put up with it, and so he should, the money he’s on. You call the sitter to check in, and then head to the bar for another…….