Introducing Serf Choices

SOURCE :SMH New work laws offer a brave olde worlde, writes Charles Purcell.

The Government is proud to unveil its new industrial relations program - SerfChoices. You may have seen theads for it already: smiling peasants plough the fields while soothing mandolin music plays. You wouldn't believe how hard it was to find peasants with full sets of teeth for those ads, this being the MiddleAges and all. Or ones that remembered how to smile.But I digress.

SerfChoices features exciting changes to the way your lord handles your employment. In the past, there were many ways you and your lord negotiated. Some lords liked to beat their serfs with maces; some cudgels;some preferred the rack. The Government is pleased to announce there will now be one standard method for beating peasants with large sticks, making it a simpler and fairer system.

SerfChoices also changes the way you, the peasant,negotiate your weekly payment of turnips.

In the past, you negotiated your turnip ration in thepresence of your lord and the Government's officialtorturer, Dagmar the Terrible. The Government ispleased to announce it has eliminated third parties such as Dagmar. Now your lord will beat and torture you directly as you beg for scraps. Once negotiated,your contract will be cast in iron. You can't get much more cast-iron than manacles.

SerfChoices guarantees that many of your employment conditions remain unchanged. As a peasant, you're not entitled to holidays, so there's no change there. Your medical benefits remain intact - when you pass out in the fields from exhaustion, you will be left until you recover or the wolves take you.

The Government has made it illegal for your lord not to beat you because of race, colour, sex or age.Everyone will be given the same number of beatings,making it a better system for all.

The maximum number of working hours a day will befixed at 23. One hour is permitted for sleeping,smoking noxious weed from the West Indies, and turnip consumption. Casual peasants will earn a quarter of a turnip and a piece of weevil-infested bread for each hour they work over 23.

Your protection from unfair dismissal will depend on your individual bargaining power - that is, whether ornot you can talk your lord out of shooting you with his crossbow. Yet another way the Government isrewarding individual talent.

Thanks to SerfChoices, Sunday will no longer be a dayof worship, but of work. Your lord is your living god- you may worship him whenever you please. Collective bargaining - otherwise known as peasant rebellions -will be treated in the usual manner, with the king's horses using the dissenters for speed bumps until theydrop their demands.

Over time you may notice that your daily turnip ration goes down. That's because peasants in Upper Saxony andTimbuktu are willing to work for less. SerfChoices will allow us to build foundations for a stronger,more prosperous kingdom. If we don't act now, soon there'll be no turnips for your children and your children's children. And no one wants that.