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Girsecutting


petergear
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Ghostrider wrote :-

 

as in the case of employing non-locals they only need to make it clear to the individuals when hiring them that the job on offer is in Shetland, and if they want to accept it it's up to them to find their own way here and find and pay for their own accomodation

 

With respect that is a non starter. Workers are not going to pay fares and digs money for a short seasonal job in Shetland. Not at whatever grass cutters get paid. And if perchance they did persuade anyone to come here would they not soon decide that nights and weekends at the catch offered better money.

 

I take your point, but we may have to agree to differ on this one. People, albeit a far far smaller number than at times in the past, still arrive here on the boat totally "on spec", hopeing to find work and accomodation, but not having the first clue whether either exists, or where to start looking for it. The quality of person likely to accept a position here, when they had to find their own way here and organise their own accomodation themselves while here, perhaps is a whole other debate, but I would imagine to some individuals faced with the alternative of sitting all summer twiddling their thumbs on Unemployment, it would prove attractive.

 

Certainly the firm might well have a high turn over of personnel when some became aware of positions elsewhere locally with better terms and conditions, or come to realise the job isn't quite everything they had convinced themselves it was, and move on. However, to just to concentrate on your example for the moment, were I personally looking for employment at present, and I had offers of a grass cutting job and a position at Catch, I would accept the grass cutting job without hesitation, regardless if it only paid minimum wage. It is not always about money, sometimes other factors come in to play, and my personal opinion is that a job of the nature on offer with Catch, is, to my tastes akin to hell on earth. Each to their own by all means, but a food processing factory of any sort will always be the very last resort for employment for me.

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Ah good! A girsey hot potatoe!

 

Hi-aye Peerie Bryan. Just to say that it would be more like a dozen to fourteen local jobs.
Agreed Peter. That's a more realistic number

 

They are evidently trying to "train-up" some novices, on-the-job, with supervision from only one or two skilled workers
As you know yourself PG, we would never have more than one untrained staff member working with us at any time. There was just too much work to do, without having to keep your eye on someone and train them up!

 

We always made a point of taking on people who showed a genuine long term interest in the job. It makes sense to have some younger workers "coming up through the ranks", as it is a grueling phsical job with very long hours. We needed the young fit eens to replace us when we'd become too old and knackered. And its the only way to pass on the skills all the "old school" grasscutters have learned (believe it or not folks, it's a very skilled job, being able to do a high quality and efficient quality job)

 

I was always stunned by the standard of grass cutting up here. Sooth, from whence I came, they dont pick up any of the cut grass, clean pavements or strim
Agreed BigMouth. I cut grass with the Glasgow City Council a few years back and I was truely shocked at the quality of the work the supervisors expected me to "leave at my ass" Absolutely no attention to detail. I was, quite frankly, embaressed to the point of leaving the job. The workers were completely unskilled (we had to attend a 4 hr training course. That was our only training) and completely unmotivated. There was a culture of "who gives a s**t, it's only grasscutting". I am mildly obsessed with grasscutting, and after extensive travelling through Scotland, I can safely say that the quality of the work done in Shetland was overall, the best I've seen

 

I also believe that local labour would take a bit more pride in their work than a squad up fae sooth, who are here to do a quick job with possibly little real interest in the final product,Perhaps?
Although I haven't seen the quality of job the new contractors are doing, I would be very surprised if they worked to the same quality levels the local firms have done over the past decade or so. We took great pride in our work. I always felt great satisfaction making Shetland look good! And there was a great rivalry between companies, and within companies. If someone had done a bit of a dodgy strimming job (which happened rarely!), they would never hear the end of it. A sense of competition between local companies can only be a good thing

 

Certainly the firm might well have a high turn over of personnel when some became aware of positions elsewhere locally with better terms and conditions, and move on
Talking from experience, that simply won't work. A grasscutting firm can't have a high turnover of workers. There isn't enough time to train people and squads get used to working together. When we pulled up at a job, we'd be out of the van and straight to work without discussing how to approach the job, simply because we'd done it so many times. Having someone who has to be shown maps, told which bits to cut, the most efficient way of doing things etc usually takes as long as doing the actual job

 

Wir girs has a lot o mossy areas. Any of you girs cutting professionals have any tips to turn mossiness back to girsiness?
Concrete :wink: But seriously, you can rotovate the whole lot and replant/turf (hell of a lot o wark), rake through the ground with a steel rake to pull up the worst o the moss (still a fair bit o wark) or apply some sort o chemical (I'm no sure what's on the market eenoo. Peter'll ken better)
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Ghostrider wrote

 

Each to their own by all means, but a food processing factory of any sort will always be the very last resort for employment for me.

 

At last we are in full agreement......my thoughts place fish factories or food processors in general somewhere near my concept of hell on earth.

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Ah good! A girsey hot potatoe!

 

Certainly the firm might well have a high turn over of personnel when some became aware of positions elsewhere locally with better terms and conditions, and move on
Talking from experience, that simply won't work. A grasscutting firm can't have a high turnover of workers. There isn't enough time to train people and squads get used to working together. When we pulled up at a job, we'd be out of the van and straight to work without discussing how to approach the job, simply because we'd done it so many times. Having someone who has to be shown maps, told which bits to cut, the most efficient way of doing things etc usually takes as long as doing the actual job

 

I agree entirely. Almost any job involving a squad travelling from site to site benefits almost immeasurably in terms of ability, competence and efficency/productivity from having one experienced in the work itself, in how their particular employer wishes the operation carried out, the area they are working in in general and the site in question in particular, and to have a good full knowledge and relationship of working together.

 

I think the point I was trying to make, perhaps not very well, is that in acknowledging that JustMe made a very good point in that *if* a company succeeded in persuading workers to fund their own travel costs to Shetland, and their own accomodation here during their stay, there was also a strong liklihood of a significant turn over of staff as a result. Obviously, any turn over of staff is, for a significant part outwith an employers control, however, how well, or not the contract is eventually fulfilled, is obviously very much the company's full responsibility.

 

Given the logistics of the task in question, and the apparent attitude with which the contractor appears to be addressing it at present, I conur with your conclusion, that *if* high staff turn over is also factored in to the current equation, the liklihood of the current contractor completing the contract within spec and budget is probably less than minimal. However, in the interests of fairness the contractor must be allowed to face and address such issues as and when and if they arise, and judgements made on the results. At least if the contractor goes over budget and/or makes a loss, they are far more unlikely to price so aggressively next time round, if they tender at all, and if the contract isn't delivered as per spec, one would hope the SIC would be very reluctant to award them another, at any price. Whether it is fair the Shetland public, as the eventual clients, endure possibe sub-standard work, and local firms/individuals carry a period of lower income for a time, to achieve the above, is almost certainly a whole other debate.

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Ghostrider, I agree with all your points about the possible reasons for a high turnover of workers. It seems likely that it will be the case

 

And I agree that the contractor has to be given a chance before we can make judgements. However, I concur with Peter that there is a heck of a lot to do before the actual business of cutting grass starts. If the'ye only finishing their first cut now, they're already way behind, and the jobs they should have done pre-season will be taking a back seat

 

At least if the contractor goes over budget and/or makes a loss, they are far more unlikely to price so aggressively next time round, if they tender at all, and if the contract isn't delivered as per spec, one would hope the SIC would be very reluctant to award them another, at any price. Whether it is fair the Shetland public, as the eventual clients, endure possibe sub-standard work, and local firms/individuals carry a period of lower income for a time, to achieve the above, is almost certainly a whole other debate.
I think the main problem is that most of the current experienced local work force will have moved to pastures new(!) by the time the contracts are renewed in 3 years. One local company has now gone out of business and I can't see any of their skilled workers moving to the new company for minimum wage

 

Its not unheard of in the world of grasscutting contracts for large national companies to aggressively tender and actually make a loss for the first few years. This puts the local firms out of business (or at least force them to downscale to the point that they can't compete on larger contracts anymore) and enables the big boys to charge whatever they want. I hope that isn't the case here

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If the'ye only finishing their first cut now

 

They aren't even half way through their first round yet; it was supposed to have been finished on Friday.

 

...the contracts are renewed in 3 years

It's four years, unfortunately, unless something "gives" first.

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As the contract has been revised it's going to be slighty more difficult, at least initially, to know if anything done differently from previous years is an omission on the part of the the contract company, or a result of a change in contract specification.

 

The contract specifications are complex and vary from area to area, but all of the following requirements apply to all areas:

 

All edges must be strimmed.

They're supposed to clean all the clippings off the hard surfaces (pavements, roads, man-hole-covers and the like).

They should do a litter-pick every visit and clear the ground of debris.

All the planted areas should have a good going-over every two or three weeks.

The bins in the playparks should be emptied every visit.

The finish of the cut should be neat and even.

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Ok two points. Our grass has been cut.....perhaps a little later but then again grass growth seems slow as well. Job was well enough done in that they left the place tidy although to my untrained eye the grass was not cut as short as in previous years.

 

Second point concerns contracts. The council should have the power to terminate the contract early if the work is not up to standard and they also are entitled to reject any bid that is too low if they believe the bid is not realistic (Did someone mention Northlink?).

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strimming, clearing-up grass clippings off the pavements, emptying bins in playparks, litter-picking etc

 

I was at the Hayfield playpark today, it's not been cut yet I don't think (?) and the bins were overflowing. I'll phone the council tomorrow.

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Another one is the bloke whose job it is to check that Golder Landscapes' work is being done properly. He's with Infrastructure services, and his email address is:

 

graeme.macdonald@sic.shetland.gov.uk

 

Any of the ones Ghost Rider provided should do it as well.

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