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volunteers v sub-contractors

(12 Posts)
Kim666 Fri 29-Sep-17 14:37:23

A few days ago there was a radio documentary where Adrian Goldberg talked about changes in the way councils do things. He said that councils employ far fewer people, their place was taken by volunteers and sub-contractors.

My experience is that volunteers and sub-contractors have problems with each other. Imagine volunteers planting up a bed with bulbs. In the spring they see the shoots coming through, they congratulate each other, then a sub-contractor comes along and strims the lot.

Your might say they wouldn't be so stupid as to do that. Oh yes they would. I've just had a herb I bought weeded from a raised bed by sub-contractors. They can't tell the difference between a plant and a weed. I've had a grapevine strimmed. Grass near a path is dying because they've sprayed the paths with weedkiller stupidly.

When I have spoken to sub-contractors before, they know nobody is going to tell them off. Councils and large landlords want cheap sub-contractors and just don't care. Why bother to volunteer?

dinosaursandtea Fri 29-Sep-17 15:05:01

You're providing a service for free that used to be someone's job, so honestly you lost me after that.

RavingRoo Fri 29-Sep-17 15:42:52

The thing is because councils often can’t buy in good quality people with business sense, these sub-contractors aren’t all that cheap either!

Ttbb Fri 29-Sep-17 15:54:47

Why don't the volunteers volunteer to train the subcontractors to do their jobs properly?

Kim666 Sat 30-Sep-17 15:50:18

In my case, it's the communal garden area of the block of flats where I live. It could look very nice. The subcontractors don't cut the hedges. They don't do anything apart from mowing and strimming. Except for when they weeded out the herb I planted and made an inept attempt at spraying a path.

If I said to a Housing Officer that I would like to teach the subcontractors to do their jobs properly they would look at me as if I was mad. If someone has no interest in gardening they're not going to be willing or able to learn to tell the difference between a plant or a weed. They just have to get the job done in as short a time as possible before moving on to the next job.

They've got an enormous sit-on mower that's too big for part of the garden. The manhole covers get pushed in with the weight of the thing. We've had branches broken off shrubs as they try to maneuver round them .

Then there's the problem of plastic drain pipes, plastic pots and bark of trees damaged by strimmers.

The way I look at subcontracting, it's like someone says they'll do the job for half the price but they do a quarter of the work. That might sound like a bargain, but it's not. No one gets monitored as to the quality of the work, the council turn a blind eye because they're cheap.

DailyMailReadersAreThick Sat 30-Sep-17 15:54:44

You sound like the worst kind of volunteer. Everybody who's managed volunteers has learned about the ones who "congratulate themselves" -
think their work should be treasured forever more and not changed. On top of that you think you know better than everybody else and even want to "teach the subcontractors how to do their jobs". Oh dear.

ChelleDawg2020 Sat 30-Sep-17 15:58:20

Councils need to save money. That's the simple truth of it. When it comes down to a choice between employing a gardener who knows the difference between a weed and a herb, or subbing that out and using the money saved on health and education, it's only going to be decided one way.

Your voluntary gardening is only making the choice clearer to the council. It doesn't matter if the subbie does a shit job when "Concerned of Tunbridge Wells" is going to make the effort to tidy things up and make them look nice. If you want the council to employ a good gardener, you need to quit the amateur involvement, let the garden get into a complete state, and then complain to the council about the mess everything is in.

HelenaDove Sat 30-Sep-17 16:01:33

Its the HAs sub contracting of gas safety that is causing major problems

HelenaDove Sat 30-Sep-17 16:03:01

Kim666 Tue 24-Oct-17 15:55:07

It was Ttbb who said "Why don't the volunteers volunteer to train the subcontractors to do their jobs properly". I replied that this was not possible. So how is it that DailyMailReadersAreThick could believe that I wanted to teach the subcontractors how to do their jobs? It seems that DailyMailReadersAreThick is a bit thick.

I know better than to not strim the base of trees, plastic pots and plastic drain pipes. I know better than not to weed out herbs from a herb bed. I know better than not to use an enormous mower on an area where it's inevitable that manhole covers will be dented and branches of shrubs will be broken off. I know better than to use weedkiller on a path and kill all the grass next to the path. I know better than to strim a grapevine growing up a pergola. So I think I do know better than the subcontractors who come to the block of flats where I live.

Str4ngedaysindeed Tue 24-Oct-17 15:59:21

As a small point, volunteers cannot take a job from a paid employee - it's not lawful.

Dozer Tue 24-Oct-17 16:03:31

I would complain about damage done by people whose employer is under contract to the council. If the council is paying for a service, it remains responsible for it.

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