Slaughter and May to cut 28 secretarial jobs

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  • Firm profits and partner earnings are highly relevant because they show that the redundancies (which are compulsory, not voluntary) are in no way an economic imperative.
    It is one thing for a business to cut staff numbers in order to survive, something very different for it to cut them in order to increase already super-normal profits.
    In the current economy (and the economy for the indefinite future) these individuals will struggle to find alternative work of the same type and same level of pay, and if they do will be taking it from others who need it.
    Actions such as these serve the interests of the partners, but not the individuals directly affected and not the wider economy and society. The action is immoral and also socially destructive and economically damaging.

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  • I genuinely believe in equality and that currently there is something very wrong with the profits City law firm partners are able to make, and indeed many other people within a number of different organisations across the City, when compared to the national salary average. However, as the system stands (which I believe needs changing) I believe it is naive and perhaps even unfair to criticise a decision like this. They run a business. Their aim should be to create long-term sustainable profitability. Keeping staff that are not required is a poor decision, and as such I do not see it as immoral in any way to take steps to reduce unnecessary headcount. It is unfortunate for those being made redundant, but why should they be kept when they are not needed?

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  • @ Anon 2:09pm “economically damaging”? Whereas paying somebody to do a job that is not required benefits the economy? Perhaps an even more bloated public sector could help, the state could employ 20 of the secretaries to type and the other eight to shred what has been typed. Hey presto, 28 people in fulltime paid employment and avoiding damaging the economy – a classic “win win” situation.

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  • The take away message is that one should never feel secure in a job. That said, one should always be on the look out for the next job.
    It may also be that the increased workload on the remaining staff at S&M will become unreasonable - i.e. the question posed may be 'can we squeeze more out of the remaining staff?'

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  • @ CCH | 3-Oct-2012 2:41 pm
    In fact, it would help the economy if S&M could pay for the secretaries stay at the firm and to just type and then shred even if it did not help the law firm. Lower paid people are more likely to consume their income than higher paid partners, and that consumption leads to higher aggregate demand in the economy, driving economic growth, and supporting higher levels of employment as a knock-on effect.
    So, if S&M wants to help itself and support wider economic growth, which will in turn deliver more M&A deals and more billable work for itself, they should definitely not sack these secretaries.
    If you are not sure, then please check with Keynes' great work: 'The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money'.

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  • the writng was on the wall when S&M stopped their final salary scheme within the last eighteen months,and although they say 28 full time equivalent will be lost this could equate at upto 61 people finding themselves jobless at christmas

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  • I haven't used a seccy in years. Wish they'd sack mine, give me a pay rise and dragon dictate, and I can use DPU for everything else.

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  • Slaughtering 28 secretaries, of course, justifies the partners' annual salary increases. I think they are overpaid to sit behind their computers and type their own briefs. Are married couples who are seeking a divorce call their soon-to-be exes "redundant" as well? What a world we live in. "WOW". Start slaughering from the top and leave staff alone!

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  • Poor trainees! They will have to master the running of calendars and the photocopying on the matters they work on. Not that they haven't been doing it before but now they will be the only ones in charge - with the possible help from print room and DPU. Nice relaxing jobs after midnight to break the monotony of a long night...

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  • I don't have a problem with a firm deciding that it is overstaffed in a particular function and then eliminating jobs to correct that. However, given that there is no economic necessity for the roles to be culled IMMEDIATELY - we're not talking about a firm that will go to the wall unless it cuts costs - I would have thought it made much more sense for them to be eliminated through natural wastage (i.e. non-replacement of people who leave of their own volition or reach retirement age) or through a programme of voluntary redundancy.
    Of course it would have cost more this way, but not a VAST amount more - and in any case, profit is NOT the only legitimate objective a business can pursue. As the firm itself says:
    "The atmosphere here is friendly and supportive - everyone's contribution is valued and we believe strongly in the importance of personal respect."
    I would argue that those values would have been better upheld with a less precipitate approach to downsizing the secretarial team - and what's more, the firm could have generated positive coverage from the story instead of a piece to which the response seems to have been largely negative.

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