Previously on the Shoogly Peg, we discovered that it is almost impossible to find out how Glasgow City Council is going about implementing Labour’s hundred pledges for the city by reading the minutes of the Council’s meetings. Undaunted, I vowed to investigate some of these pledges individually, to find out how they are progressing.
Pledge 72 of the manifesto stated that Labour would establish a Factoring Commission within one month of being elected to provide workable solutions for residents that are efficient, good value and fair.
I’m not going to sit on the fence on this one: I can’t stand factors. There are two main reasons. The first is that, as a longstanding Glasgow resident, I have forked over literally thousands of pounds to factors, usually in return for nothing more than getting some lightbulbs changed and a bucket of soapy water swooshed around my close every Tuesday.
The second is that when I graduated, I temped with two different factors. They were breathtakingly inefficient. Both places were run almost entirely by men, with a secretarial pool (to which I briefly belonged) that was exclusively female. The two groups seldom interacted, and there was an almost comedic, 1970s-style subserviency to the directors. Both companies closed for an hour at lunchtime, and at one, a senior director (whose father had set up the company) routinely took a two-hour lunch, because that’s what his dad had done.
At both companies, my duties consisted almost entirely of audiotyping letters to clients. The process ran thus: a senior director would dictate a series of letters into his recorder, and then drop the tape into his outtray. I would collect it, type up the letters, and print copies for him to check. Some hours later, he would read them, correct any misheard points, and return them to me. I would type them up again and put them back in his tray. Then, finally, the letters would get sent.
I’ll admit this wasn’t yesterday, but even at the time it was a hopelessly outdated approach, and judging from my interactions with my own factor, I am not convinced that much has changed. The problem is that factors have been able to chunter on without any competition for decades, raking in cash for very little work.
So, the Factoring Commission. It is being chaired by Jean Charsley, Secretary of Hillhead Community Council, and is expected to report before Christmas. Its remit is, apparently, unfettered, but I have so far been unable to discover who else is on the Commission. They are inviting submissions to email@example.com, and I will certainly be responding. In my next post, I’ll set out a few thoughts on how factoring could be improved: I’d love to hear your ideas, too.