12 February 2014

"Hello, I am an elf.
I am writing to complain about the Elf Protest workshop, which is helping some elves to protest for changes to their working conditions. I will not be joining the elf protest on Saturday (14 December) because I don't think elves should be taking industrial action at this important elf time of year. Myself, I work as a Kertasníkir (Candle-Stealer) Yule Elf. My work is very traditional and well respected. I follow children in order to steal their candles so I can eat them.
A new mood of militancy is sweeping through the elf communities —  an unjustified aggression that threatens to result in the first international strike by elves since 1451. The trigger is that the contagion of casual worker discontent has now spread to elves. If elves were to strike it would be for purely self serving reasons, betraying those who trust and rely on them.

Over recent months, some elves have remorselessly cranked up the pressure on the issue of working hours, indulging in increasingly hysterical propaganda and whipping up a sense of resentment against Christmas. Indeed, in recent days, I have received up to four emails a day, urging me to reply to an elf worker survey. But I have refused to participate, because I think the indignation over working conditions, so eagerly fomented by some elves, is grossly misplaced. If elves do take industrial action on this issue, it will be one of the most disgraceful and self-serving disputes in elf history.

Even the very threat of a elf strike is a grotesque act of irresponsibility, where crude blackmail masquerades as concern for elf welfare. And this attempt to protect some elve's narrow vested interests will do nothing to improve elf standing with the British public.

Indeed, the traditional spirit of goodwill has already been badly dented in recent years by increasing avarice in parts of the profession, such as the outrageous Heinzelmännchen (Kitchen Elf) walkout in 2004 by which family kitchen elves have been negotiated substantially more for doing significantly less. Given how well-rewarded most elves are, particularly those in Christmas workshops, a dispute over working conditions would sound the death knell for the profession’s reputation.

The elf world is not meant to be like this. Working as an elf is not a mere occupation. It is a vocation —  one built on compassion for the most vulnerable in society. That is certainly the way elves used to be viewed in this country. The elf was seen as reliable, selfless, trustworthy — a pillar of the local community.

Tragic: There is precious little sign of responsibility from the elves now. They have become reckless, bent on self-service rather than self-sacrifice.

There has been no dramatic increase in productivity or flexibility that might justify this colossal increase in worker demands. The opposite is true. Where elves once had to provide 24-hour work and conduct regular home visits, now they essentially work office hours. Out-of-hours and weekend work is largely conducted with overtime only. For all the incessant bleating about elf conditions, too many elves do not have a clue about the real world. Unlike those who have to earn their living in the competitive marketplace, elves enjoy an effective monopoly, where their work is guaranteed.

I would like to warn parents and children against this weekend's 'family fun day' workshop about helping elves think about what the future of work should be like. Designing posters for elves is making light of a serious issue.

"There is nothing child-friendly about industrial action." – Michael Gove