contracts in a culture stripped of Grace


Agreeing a contract is hard.

It is a set of conditions which need to be met by both parties in order to facilitate the conditions for quality of work to be completed. If you are asked to do something outwith your contract your employer can sack you. (at a very basic level). The other end is if you do all your side of the contract and the employer brakes their side, you have the right to seek some sort of recompense. It is a basic device which tells you what protection you have, what you are expected to do and what you are entitled to.

The news on Monday that 850 people have been been given immediate notice of termination of employment by the company which makes the iconic Mini motorcar made the news on Monday.

I stopped and paused.
I had several questions in my head;
=What did the contract say?
==If you willingly agree to something unfair can you protest about it later?
===What cost should a company bear in order to go beyond the contract detailed entitlement.

It turned out almost all of the staff were agency workers who were self employed and had an agency contract to work at the plant. The agency system does work well. usually you will be paid more then the person working beside you who is employed by the company. generally you will also be able to choose when you work and fit work around the rest of your life. But the downside is that it is temporary situation. Not to be relied on. At any point the job can disappear. It is employement status which is temporal, fractious and often erratic.

My questions thought continued to bother me.
I am employed under contract. I am aware of the formality of the contract and what that means. but I work for and with a community of faith. a community of people who travel, learn and journey together. Yet I will not consider becoming a member of this community. I cannot in good conscience join a community of faith which could in 3 months time turn around and give me 4 weeks notice of contract termination. My employment would be terminated, but my tithe would still be expected!

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this issue was current again, should people who work for banks which have been rescued by the government get payed bonuses? Royal Bank of Scotland needed government money to continue working to the point where the taxpayer owns 70% of the bank. Should I, (as a taxpayer), pay for employees of a company which has failed, to get 6-7 figure bonuses?

I don’t want to but Yes I should.
In reading Volf’s “Free of Charge”, Volf argues that as a society we have forgotten about grace. The stripping out of something central to a society functioning well, is inextricably linked to the growth of a culture of my rights come first, a culture of don’t touch me or I will sue, a culture of blame and ensuring you get the maximum from the blame which you have applied.

How do we combat this? Partly by not denying the worker his pay. The worker has worked and is deserving of his agreed worth. Why would we not give it gladly and freely? If I was the worker I wouldn’t be expecting a bonus this year and the gift of a bonus would speak volumes about how much my employed valued/cared about me.

VoIf says, if we cannot give correctly, then we cannot forgive well also.

Recently, we had a coffee morning thing for the staff at a local school.The chaplaincy team provide it freely and don’t ask for donations. As usual people give us money or refuse to take no for an answer. Our ongoing practice has been we don’t ask but if people want to donate leave it at the milk and sugar station. (The money going to a charitable aid organisation.)

This time one team member when asked about donations refused them totally. He was trying explain how we were giving correctly and how we didn’t want paid. The teaching staff weren’t listening to the explaination. They were just refusing to take no as an answer. the attitude of giving was slightly off. By denying the opportunity for gifts to be given back as people recieve gifts, the attitude wasn’t actually giving well. It was giving badly.
On of the key things that struck me as I read Volf was around the concept of a part of giving is forgiveness.They are ineqtricably linked with each other. Without the ability to give correctly, freely and honestly, accepting then that people may choose to receive as the gift has been given and gift back. Giving is about showing forgiveness in that situation.

The guys at mini may have been treated by the letter of the law, but somehow unfairly, the guys at RBS may have been treated fairly by the letter of the law, but are jusged to being treated unfairly.

perhaps we should pilot contracts of Grace.
what would that look like?