Wales: A Resting State?

A Welsh Government policy priority of wellbeing is under threat from intensified austerity. In a climate where workers are increasingly burdened by job insecurity, overtime and a punitive benefits regime, Frances Williams details the vital importance of rest for the imagination and artistic production, and has a unique proposal for burnt-out creative workers…

I shared a break, one sunny day last month, with two men from Liverpool. They had driven over the border to deliver a sofa to my new home in Anglesey. This handsome slab of cost-price upholstery, on which I hope to put my feet up regularly, had caused them some difficulty to bring through the house. ‘This is a three man job!’ they told me, sweating and panting, ‘but there’s only two of us!’ I had lamely joked: ‘I hope you are getting danger money!’

As it turned out, they could only drink the cup of tea I made for them because of EU regulations (which prohibit anyone driving a van for more than six hours at a time). In that half-hour gap of enforced rest, they complained about their (sub-contracted) company and the regimentation of time to which it subjected them; penalties if they were minutes off their targets, with a two-way camera mounted on the windscreen to monitor behaviour. It wasn’t the back-breaking work or long hours, or even the low pay, so much as the lack of trust that upset them the most; expensive surveillance kit prioritised over simply treating people with more trust and (mutual) respect.

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