OPINION: One of my mates had an elderly neighbour who had survived the Tangiwai rail disaster. After the tragedy, there were no social workers or grief counsellors. Apparently, the police gave him a blanket and a bottle of beer, then told him to go home. That's what I call victim support.
Today if you lose your job, given our fad for consultants, you don't just receive a letter or have a quick honest chat with your boss. Worse, it seems you have to endure an expensive tangi for your former job as well.
Imagine those poor MFAT staff we learned about last week. Not only did they learn that they were going to lose their livelihoods, but they had to suffer the indignity of smarmy and expensive "change management" consultants offering "helpful" suggestions on how to cope with redundancy. These included getting a pet, doing yoga, taking a hot bath, starting a journal or, God forbid, praying.
Even worse, you and I had to pay more than $300,000 to these consultants so they could gently and irritatingly say, in the words of Terry Serepisos, "you're fired".
Prime Minister John Key said this expenditure "may well be justified".
This latest waste of taxpayer money makes the previous Labour government's hip-hop tours look like funding well spent.
Given that I have recently formed my own change management consultancy called "Clear your desk, Buster", I will happily save the government millions by offering some change management advice for free.
So, if you have lost your job recently:
Run a hot bath. Then invite your "change management" officer around for a bite to eat. When they are washing their hands in the bathroom, grab them by the neck and hold them under the water for about 10 seconds. Waterboarding is dangerous and illegal, except when the US does it, but it will do wonders for your self-esteem.
Do NOT buy a pet. A pet costs at least a couple of grand a year and the last thing a puppy needs is a grumpy ex-government employee storming about. However, if you already have a dog, buy it a cheap toy (a monkey works well), and name it after the CEO or cabinet minister who has fired you. As the dog mauls it, you will receive endless hours of sadistic pleasure.
Start your own change management company. Can you be worse than the ones already hired? Go in, tell the employees in plain English the real reason they are being fired (government needs to meet unrealistic Treasury budget projections; Ports of Auckland need to make unrealistically high profit margins). They'll hate you at first, but will eventually respect your honesty. Then charge like a wounded bull.
Chill out. Apparently, an overseas trip is a good way to "chillax". MFAT runs a nice three-day package to Burma for only $26,000. If you go overseas permanently, the pay is higher in Aussie, but England is where our Defence Force, after laying off too many staff, had to recently recruit.
Pray. Another brilliant suggestion you paid for. Can I suggest that the best time to pray is when you're at the Work and Income office asking for an emergency benefit.
Get a job telemarketing. Welfare Minister Paula Bennett recently suggested that telemarketing was a good opportunity for the unemployed. Use the staff contact list you had at your former job. Start with the minister and CEO and work your way down. Make sure you phone either during dinner time (if they have children) or late at night.
Start a journal. When you are really angry, writing down your feelings makes you feel better. If you start your journal in bright red paint on the concrete exterior of the government department who just laid you off, your anger may slowly dissipate.
I have done my patriotic duty and offered free helpful advice. Given that I have saved government departments the $340,000 consultancy fee many times over, I will happily accept a cheque from Finance Minister Bill English for a cool $200,000. And I'll throw in a free "change management" session for Mr English and his colleagues after the next election.