Serco: The Long Road To Rehab

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Contrary to popular opinion that is not the Chief Executive of Serco trying to get away from his shareholders. This is in fact a diagram printed in the Daily Mail (in 2009), illustrating the cunning manner in which Julian Chautard was able to elude the custody of the same  vigilant Serco employees who had ferried him to Pentonville Prison, from Snarebrook Crown Court. One can only wonder if these were the same vigilant employees driving the ‘cost-effective’ van from which two Austrailian prisoners escaped, probably not. I can’t imagine Serco retaining their services if that was the case, even if defective vans were to blame. Which makes it all the more surprising that they have elected not to blame their poorly paid employees for the companies abysmal performance this year.

Yes folks, according to the Financial Times, Serco has sustained ‘reputational damage’ caused by the ‘untruths’ told about the number of prisoners they were transporting to court, as well as further ‘untruths’ about the number of offenders they were electronically tagging. ‘Reputational damage’ imagine that, in the City of London a corporation was caught out telling lies and the authorities didn’t just give them a wink and a nod, they were punished and suffered ‘reputational damage’.

I’m amazed and enthralled because I cannot recall a single person who ever worked as an internee in a City of London firm and went on to work elsewhere, who hadn’t picked up one spurious practice or another. In fact it seems to me (and I may well be wrong in my perceptions but there you go), that many of them had picked up only one lesson from their time in some of these ‘cream of the league’ firms, how to skillfully cheat, lie and manipulate your way to success….without getting caught out and punished for it.

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They learn’t those lessons no doubt from watching companies like the Royal Bank of Scotland, complicit in the funding of the extraction of oil from Canada Oil Sands. In the words of the Cree Indians a company that is complicit in ‘the biggest environmental crime on the planet’. Or perhaps they took their lessons whilst being dandled on the knee of Bear Stearns, yet another company that worried about it’s ‘reputation’ prior to it’s failure and subsequent financial collapse. They certainly won’t have acquired that knowledge at the feet of G4S, who like Serco, has rapidly discovered how unforgiving the general public can be when faced with the sight of private sector companies, devouring their taxes like overfed sharks whilst giving little or nothing back.

Pretax losses of £7.3 million, the loss of the Dockland’s Light Railway Franchise and the scaling back of work managing Australia’s detention centres, have all played a part in facilitating Serco’s demise. One could almost resent feeling sorry for them were it not for one thing, an admission by the Chief Executive that the company’s problems were the result of poor leadership and not of an incompetent workforce. A company man shouldering the blame,rather than shifting it to his employees and then slitting their throats to save his own skin (figuratively speaking), in this day and age who ever heard of such a thing?

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