Bonum Certa Men Certa

Sirius Open Source Isn't Sirius About Paying a Living Wage

Sirius Open Source chat

Summary: The company Sirius ‘Open Source’ paid way below the market standards even back in 2011; incredibly enough, payment increments were discarded in spite of inflation and even travel expenses weren't always reimbursed

THE signs that a company isn't functioning are probably universal; one can find many stories about startups that never pay staff or always make verbal promises with delays... until they become insolent (then, recovering the stolen salary is impossible). "Wage theft" as it's sometimes called it very common in small companies, but Sirius was never that bad. Having said that, as we shall show next month, the financial situation was dire and staff was expected to adapt accordingly. It was hard to compel people to work extra hours; some of them had already worked very strange hours under unusual conditions.

Funds of the company were increasingly redirected to wasteful things, clients were occasionally undercharged, and sometimes even the staff took the brunt of the waste. Today, as well as in tomorrow's part, we shall revisit some examples of that, citing a report we left this month, just before leaving the company.

Financial Aspects Revisited

As noted above, the current AWS fees are extraordinary and as shall be shown later, an ordinary staff salary is almost laughable. For technical people working at hours like these, including weekends and holidays, the salary would typically be double or treble the "market standard" (which for technical people is rather high). To observe that ordinary employees of Walmart (the world's largest employer) get paid more than someone who works around the clock, even on holidays, doing technical work, is just unbelievable. In many US states a starter salary for Walmart staff is around $30,000 and some Support Team staff at Sirius receives 21,000 British pound, i.e. only a little above minimum wage. It's important to stress that in Sirius the management never experiences those erratic sorts of rotas, including mid-week rotations (moving between 5:30PM-1:30AM to 1:00AM-9:00AM and then back again). People at Walmart don't work overtime or in weekends (if they do, they get paid double or more) and don't have the same skillset. Some don't have college/university degrees (or student debt to pay). How can Sirius justify this, especially the lack of increase in salaries, not just adjusted for level of seniority (or length of service) but also inflation? This impedes recruitment prospects. As noted earlier, it is essential to attract "new blood" for the company to remain operational, and later on it will be noted that basic equipment is not being provided either. Employees need to pay for their work equipment and more. This makes Sirius like a low-cost supplier of cheap labour. At Walmart, there is at least a chance of career progression, e.g. supervisor roles and above. Walmart employees don't receive urgent calls when they're out for family time away from town, asking for immediate help with some technical matters due to an incident. In Sirius, even low-paid staff was subjected to that. Even getting a holiday approved has become quite hard and sometimes approval is received only a day prior (with a substitute unsuitable to actually fulfil the job). That's not enough time to make meaningful travel plans.

From clear recollection, the company has a track record of not paying full travel expenses to some colleagues and one may have sued the company over it, based on another colleague. In Roy's case too, several trips to Leicester (to meet a potential client) around 2014 were never covered (train expenses totaling about 140 pounds). Despite repeated reminders from Roy and repeated assurances from the management (or no reply), Roy never received his expenses reimbursed for either of those trips. At some point Roy simply gave up pursuing that as Roy felt like it required a lot of nagging. Again, where is the accountability for it? That was 8 years ago and still overdue. If not a matter of stinginess, this is a case of gross incompetence and injustice. After about a year it became embarrassing to even bring up the subject again. It's akin to what's known as "wage theft" but applicable to travel (long-distance journey) expenses rather than remuneration. This was still several years before vindictive managers started manufacturing fake 'cases' against particular members of staff in a rather psychopathic fashion (never bothering to even apologise later, as any truly mature person would do). Habitually the company would distort what employees actually said, either on the record or off the record, to manipulate or trick people into saying things, hinged upon loaded statements or distortion thereof. This will be discussed in this document's final section.

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