I was talked into joining the Professional Contractors Group by one of the directors. For some reason he thought I could do some good. I‘m told that he even felt it was a bit of a coup for him. I can‘t think why.
I as quite excited about joining it though. I looked forward to the lively debate on the Forums about the best way forward for contractors and the best ways to achieve this.
I was surprised right from the start about the vehemence any time I suggested any way that the PCG could or change or at the vehemence with which any ideas that I put forward were rejected – basically without consideration. I think they thought I was a bit uppity for a new member.
I was told by others that there had long been an unwelcoming atmosphere for newcomers who were expected to take their place lower down on the Forum hierarchy. That‘s almost certainly why only 300 of their 12,000 members take any part in the Forum debates.
Incidentally, I was told by a senior member of the PCG that quite a few of my ideas had actually been taken up. It seems that the Ideas Process is that they get rejected and then put forward by someone more senior and taken up.
Another thing that I learned was that although the PCG claim to represent contractors (and there are more than 200,000 IT contractors alone in the UK), they only really represent 12,000 contractors, but of those less than 300 actually vote in the elections – a similar number to those who take part on the Forums.
The Government might be surprised that the people in front of them, who are lobbying on behalf of contractors really are elected by perhaps a hundred or two hundred odd voters.
The whole election system is flawed. You can‘t vote for the leader or any of the board. All you can do is vote for someone who will sit on the Consultative Council who will elect the leader.
It is a flawed system but there didn‘t seem to be much interest in changing it or in trying to attract more people to vote. As with pretty much all elected people, they don‘t have much interest or desire in changing the system that elected them in the first place.
See No Evil
However, on the Forums, there was almost a complete inability to take in that the PCG had ever made any mistakes and that there was anything wrong at all with the PCG.
I said once that their image amongst many contractors wasn‘t that great and needed to improve. Of course you can‘t improve something unless you accept that there was a problem – and admit that there was a problem they just couldn‘t do.
I was surprised at how closed some minds were. I had quite a few people who supported what I said, although it wasn‘t the majority, and more crucially they weren‘t in the PCG hierarchy.
I got quite a few Personal Messages from sympathetic members who had been cowed in the past as well. It seemed that most dissenters had been chased away (or even banned).
I had only been there a few weeks when I got a call from one of the PCG dignitaries saying that there had been a formal complaint against me and that I was to be ‘˜tried‘ and that they wanted my side of the story.
I wasn‘t very pleased about this call out of the blue. I felt that it was wasting my time on a trivial issue.
The charge was that I had used information obtained on the PCG for my own commercial use.
Somebody had made a suggestion on the Forum and I replied light heartedly that this was a good idea. I‘ll use that I said. However, although it gave me an idea for an article the idea wasn‘t new and I had used it before in a previous article. I was simply joking around with him.
It did trigger me into thinking about an article. I can‘t remember what it was about, but it was one of those Ten Ways to get Yourself a Contract type ones.
His suggestion was one that I‘d used before and it was only one of the ten ‘˜helpful suggestions‘.
He wanted to be paid for it. He had often been in touch with NamesFacesPlaces even before I joined the PCG offering services for payment, none of which I took up. He was even in touch recently again.
I laughed it off but he put it forward as a formal complaint.
I thought that the whole charge was ridiculous and should have been laughed away instead of the formal process which involved them in calling me and asking for my ‘˜defence‘.
I decided anyway to send what I thought about it and the charges were dismissed.
The second part of this article will appear shortly.