Sunday 19 March 2006

Losing the head

It seems that the Scottish Parliament's roof malfunction has a simple explanation:
George Reid, the Presiding Officer, announced yesterday that the fiasco over the broken beam was caused by a £1.50 steel bolt and a workman earning £25 an hour who twisted the bolt so far the wrong way, the head almost came off.
I once suggested that the eventual cost would be £500 million. Who's to say it won't be?

Everyone seems to have focused on the additional expenditure caused by the roof problem. I want to raise another issue. The government seems to be determined that everyone goes to university, however bog-standard, but doesn't value people who actually make, maintain or clean the bogs. In the Scotland of the fifties and sixties, a few people attended very elitist universities and many, many others trained in industry through apprenticeships. I well recall an acquaintance who left school at fifteen to become an apprentice and who was doing the kind of maths in his evening classes that would have challenged those of us who stayed on at school till eighteen.

The question is this: would a society that valued apprenticeships as much as degrees produce "a workman earning £25 an hour" who didn't know how to tighten "a £1.50 steel bolt"?

1 comment:

David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

Andrew Duffin: "He twisted it the wrong way?" 
Well, that was one of the things that made me suspicious about the whole thing. 
At the risk of stating the obvious, I guess the bolts themselves are not load bearing, presumably they are there to stop the beam moving. So they could be pretty cheap low tensile steel. Even so, it is a little difficult to imagine the scenario whereby the bolt is inserted so far into its housing that it cannot be removed without shearing the head off. 
Maybe, the beam was resting on the bolt rather than the locating shims in the socket..... 
If that's the case then it is not just one man responsible but the whole team. 
Andrew Duffin: "What kind of qualified person doesn't know which way to tighten a bolt?" 
George Reid, the Presiding Officer?

24 March 2006, 09:56:51 GMT
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Andrew Duffin
He twisted it the wrong way? What kind of qualified person doesn't know which way to tighten a bolt? Is the building put together with left-hand threads or something?  
Or did this "workman" gain his position via gender-equality laws, if you follow me?  
Enquiring minds want to know.

23 March 2006, 12:40:35 GMT
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SJ: "At £25/hr, I strongly doubt that he was cheap immigrant labour!" 
OK, on the face of it you may be correct. But given that appears to be the official rate for the job, is it impossible or unlikely that the task was subcontracted to a company who employed people at, for example, the minimum wage? 
On reflection, David is probably right too, it is just as characteristic of the british worker if not more so. Only two bolts to put in, lets not bother about the second one, na! lets not even bother to secure the first one. 
Same sort of attitude that made British Layland a world renown car maker.

21 March 2006, 09:32:52 GMT
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Howard R Gray
And the design permitted the failure of one bolt to cause so much chaos? What if two bolts failed, would the beam have collapsed in toto?  
More likely than not, there is more to all this. Blaming one man and one bolt is just too convenient or am I a conspiracy buff? Ho Hum more nonsense in the world of public works and the finance of same.

21 March 2006, 00:43:56 GMT
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Simon Jester
At £25/hr, I strongly doubt that he was cheap immigrant labour!

20 March 2006, 19:00:20 GMT
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F&W: "The question is this: would a society that valued apprenticeships as much as degrees produce "a workman earning £25 an hour" who didn't know how to tighten "a £1.50 steel bolt"?" 
Before we can answer that one, we ought to know who exactly was working on the building? 
Your question implicitely accuses british or scottish workmen, but given this governments penchant for using cheap immigrant labour. Do we know that the Scottish Parliament was built by british workers. 
I am the first to join in criticism of the state of the UK State education system. 
But we ought to know in this case if (i) this is where the fault lies. Or (ii) rather than another attempt by the civil servants and numptie politicians to CYA. 
Given the options, I favour (ii).

20 March 2006, 10:06:46 GMT