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Night Bearer
27-08-2007, 22:56
This weekend a friend of mine informed me that Paul Sawyer, Tim Adcock, and Gary Morley have all been made redundant.

Not sure on the reasons, although cost-cutting sounded like it might have been a major factor. From what I've heard, the Baneblade kit is Adcock's last for GW. I assume the HE are Morley's last figures for GW.

Has anyone heard of others being made redundant?

grickherder
27-08-2007, 22:59
While GW is shrinking, the rest of the miniatures world has been growing by leaps and bounds. The sheer number of smaller production houses and game companies that are making it happen is becoming staggering. Greener pastures await Adcock & Morley for sure.

purplehoob
28-08-2007, 00:57
Noooooo not the Fat Bloke. I liked him although it will mean more Pies for everyone else.

All joking aside I think they could take some hits in the accounts department before they sack people who still know how to have fun.

If this is true then I feel sorry for them, but I agree sometime another door opens when one slams shut...

asmodai_dark86
28-08-2007, 03:36
All we need now is Morley to head off to join Chris Fitzpatrick or Mike McVey and bring the others with him and GW will have to tremble in there mighty boots - Wargods could easily be GW's biggest rival if it could both increase its productivity and lower its cost in line with GW

Mad Doc Grotsnik
28-08-2007, 10:30
Any confirmation on this?

They seem pretty big players to be laid off, especially when Gary Morley was in charge of training new sculptors......

Stella Cadente
28-08-2007, 10:38
WHAT!! Not fat Bloke!!! so is GW's new strategy to fire people who still know what this hobby is about? a way to have fun, not screw there customers?

Brimstone
28-08-2007, 10:43
Any confirmation on this?

They seem pretty big players to be laid off, especially when Gary Morley was in charge of training new sculptors......

Well I know Gary Morley has left GW I don't know about the others or if they have been laid off.

Nyarlathotep
28-08-2007, 11:04
Yes, some of the long serving staff have been made redundant, I know this for a fact, but I didn't know which ones.

hereticdave
28-08-2007, 11:21
Holy - i was flicking through some old WD's i had and one had the photo and introduction when Gary Morley first joined the team...

Tim Adcock has been there longer than that i think, no?

yabbadabba
28-08-2007, 11:50
Holy - i was flicking through some old WD's i had and one had the photo and introduction when Gary Morley first joined the team...

Tim Adcock has been there longer than that i think, no?

There have been long time servers from all over the business going - not just the studio.

It's pretty normal for a shrinking company to look to move on long time staff who probably command higher wages for the jobs they do, and to keep/recruit new, younger staff in their place, as these tend to accept lesser salaries for more work.

Harsh, but it's life.

King Thurgun
28-08-2007, 12:07
Not Fat Bloke! His snarky editorial comments in white dwarf were half the reason i read the magazine! GW without Fat Bloke will be like Dwarves without beards.

Thats right, GW will become scottish halflings. The whole lot of them.

RobC
28-08-2007, 13:03
It's pretty normal for a shrinking company to look to move on long time staff who probably command higher wages for the jobs they do, and to keep/recruit new, younger staff in their place, as these tend to accept lesser salaries for more work.That, and the more experienced staff are more likely to jump ship if they think they can set up themselves, are tired of the constant changes, and/or fear that the ship is sinking. There are many ex-staff who left GW only to set up rival companies, recognising that their skills and expertise would be enough to establish a foothold in the industry - and allow them more freedom than in GW's comparatively restrictive environment.

Batwings
28-08-2007, 13:37
Gary Morley was in charge of training new sculptors......

That hasn't really been the case for a few years.
Gary's been based in Memphis for some time which would tend to preclude any hands-on training with new sculpting recruits he may have been responsible for earlier.

Although I hear he's now back in the UK.

Stormtrooper Clark
28-08-2007, 14:36
Lol yeah now I think about it that would make sense

rivers3162
28-08-2007, 14:38
Maybe Gary made the decision to leave after reading the comments on his possessed :rolleyes:

To be fair they weren't his best but he has done a lot of other good stuff for GW.

I can't believe all 3 of them have gone, Fat Bloke was undoubtably one of the (if not THE) best editor WD ever had. It will be interesting if all 3 of them move to other companies or start up their own though.

On a side note, apparently the Flames of War UK office in Nottingham is crewed almost entirely by ex-mail order trolls...

reds8n
28-08-2007, 14:52
Well I know Gary Morley has left GW I don't know about the others or if they have been laid off.


And I'm 99% certain that Tim Adcock is gone as well. Don't know if he was pushed or if he jumped.. suspect it's a little of column A and a little of column B.
So 2 out of the 3 are gone.

Famous last words eh ? ;)

steveb
28-08-2007, 14:57
Just an opinion but I'd suspect Tim Adcock's skills as a straight line designer would be a lot less useful to GW now due to such work being mostly done in computers these days. Not sure if Tim had made the jump to virtual sculpting, but if he hadn't then it may have been the death knell for his GW career.

That all said he's extremely good at straight line work so should be able to find more work in the industry without too much trouble.

efarrer
29-08-2007, 12:41
There have been long time servers from all over the business going - not just the studio.

It's pretty normal for a shrinking company to look to move on long time staff who probably command higher wages for the jobs they do, and to keep/recruit new, younger staff in their place, as these tend to accept lesser salaries for more work.

Harsh, but it's life.
Though ironically, in any other company they will probably command a higher wage. GW's wages are far below standards at the store level and comments I've seen elsewhere indicated that former design staff had found outside the company much more rewarding to the pocketbook.

Grimstonefire
30-08-2007, 22:46
I thought I heard that Pete Haines has gone as well. IMO a great loss. As long as Brian Nelson and Ali Morrison are there I'll be happy.

Crazy Harborc
31-08-2007, 01:47
Getting rid of longtime (likely higher paid than newer people) oldtimers will likely reduce the weekly payroll. Replacements will be new and therefore paid less. Kinda sounds a bit "cold"......but....it is a good way to bring in new ideas and new (maybe better) skills.;)

purplehoob
31-08-2007, 08:06
Yes it could work that way, but there is another saying I like.

Pay peanuts get monkeys!

Some companies don't take into account experience think of all the projects that Fat Bloke for example has worked on.

He will have a wide range of skills and experience. This will now hopefully be used by another company. Maybe even a rival company, I hope he finds something else soon.

As stated by someone else he reigned over what was for me some of the best White Dwarfs ever. Even the term Fat Bloke means he didn't take it all too seriously.

With the money GW will be offering, looking at past jobs they have advertised I doubt it will bring in a high flying ideas person.

Batwings
31-08-2007, 18:42
"Replacements will be new and therefore paid less. Kinda sounds a bit "cold"......but....it is a good way to bring in new ideas and new (maybe better) skills."


Except of course, Games Workshop haven't replaced any of the creative staff they've gotten rid of.

Venkh
01-09-2007, 01:05
Replacements will be new and therefore paid less. Kinda sounds a bit "cold"......but....it is a good way to bring in new ideas and new (maybe better) skills

If the rumor is true and they have had their roles made redundant, they wont be replaced. Not officially anyway.

Their work will either no longer get done or will be done by someone else in the organisation.

Bloody shame to see them go. A little bit of the companies sould goes with them.

Crazy Harborc
01-09-2007, 01:28
That IS likely true, no new hires....for now.;) If other current employees take over those functions, IMHO, those who were NOT made redundent are likely to be the ones paid less than the ones made redundent...We called that "fired" over here.

Venkh
01-09-2007, 01:35
It can actually be quite good over here because you usually get a nice fat payoff.

I have been trying to get made redundant for the last year. Unfortunately nobody seems to have noticed. :(

Wintermute
01-09-2007, 09:09
If the rumor is true and they have had their roles made redundant, they wont be replaced. Not officially anyway.


I do know, for a fact, that Paul 'Fat Bloke' Sawyer's last official role, which was Special Accounts Manager for the UK Trade Sales Team, does no longer exist. As to whether Paul is still working for GW - I don't know.

BigRob
01-09-2007, 09:42
It is a shame to see that names I associate with the hobby are leaving. Games Workshop and especially White Dwarf seems so much less personal and more difficult to relate to, especially now they have a cartoon character writing very poor "Editorials" for the magazine.

Big names like Nigel Stillman (Stillmania anyone?), Tomas Pirenin (who was a Chaos Lord from the Frozen North), Andy Chambers, Paul "Fat Bloke" Sawyer are all names I associate with the hobby in the same was as The Perry Twins or Rick Priestly (Is he still with the company?)

Seeing them go now means when I see an army book I wont recognise the authors name and go, "Oh yeah, his style and rules rock, must buy that". Instead Games Workshop think having 3 lines of text from the "White Dwarf" telling me he'd spend all his pocketmoney on the new Book cos its "For Teh Win" will work.

That was almost a rant....:)

forthegloryofkazadekrund
01-09-2007, 09:55
ive said it before on various forums, unfortunetaly gw is becoming a corporation of faceless minions with no personality, theres no "humanity" so to speak in the wd any more and with more and more of the recognisable faces leaving we are left with people who arnt really inspiring us anymore, its happening more and more with gw and its not good :cries:

that may have been a mini rant but it is the truth though :(

Easy E
01-09-2007, 11:13
It's funny about that. GW use to be a business with a "Cult" model. Essentially, they had "celebrity" pesonalities that got people involved and made you want to follow their products. A good example of this type of company is Apple. Now, they seem to be purposely divorcing themselves from this style of business model (If it is a business model in the true sense). With this change, the potential backlash is that less people will be interested in following the company into new territory. The upside, is that you can follow a traditional business model where you can focus on the bottom line.

If this theory is true Gav and Jervis better watch their backs. They are next.

Killgore
01-09-2007, 13:32
It is a shame to see that names I associate with the hobby are leaving. Games Workshop and especially White Dwarf seems so much less personal and more difficult to relate to, especially now they have a cartoon character writing very poor "Editorials" for the magazine.

Big names like Nigel Stillman (Stillmania anyone?), Tomas Pirenin (who was a Chaos Lord from the Frozen North), Andy Chambers, Paul "Fat Bloke" Sawyer are all names I associate with the hobby in the same was as The Perry Twins or Rick Priestly (Is he still with the company?)


Don't forget Adrian the Ork Warboss Wood, never has White Drawf looked so brutal

torgoch
01-09-2007, 13:47
Tuomas Pirinen moved sideways into computer games I believe. I'd be very surprised if he was in anyway pushed as his work was consistently well recieved. GW pay pretty bloody badly by all accounts, so such a move is hardly surprising.

I have nothing good to say about Paul Sawyer, other than White Dwarfs he edited were 'less worse' than they are now. I've worked in journalism for years, on titles with less production staff than GW commits to White Dwarf and the content state of the non-LOTR part of the magazine is inexcusable.

Letting Andy Chambers go, yet keeping hold of Gav Thorpe was a dreadful error.

Wintermute
01-09-2007, 17:12
I've deleted a number of posts for being off-topic, these include speculation about why Andy Chambers ceased to be an employee of GW.

Please keep the posts relevant to the topic in first post of this thread from now on.

Wintermute
The WarSeer Inquisition

lanrak
03-09-2007, 20:05
Hi all.
I is painful to watch GW,PLC go through a similar long drawn out 'death rattle', caused by poor management desicions, that afllicted 2 of my previous employers.

Every year they make the same mistakes over and over again.
The senior manegment blame absolutely everyone and everything for the companies poor performance.
Apart from the real cause, senoir manegment do not understand the true nature of the buisness and/or fail to understand the changing market and customer requirments.

And insist the latest 'restructering' will turn the company around.

They have 'Nero Complex'...they 'fiddle' about with endless pointless restructuring while the buisness burns down around them.
And they usualy aid the onset of the 'fire' ,by firing/letting go all the experienced people who have the skill required to effect direct positive change within the buisness.

Hmm lets see, when GamesWorkshop developed and supported a wide range of games ,the buisness grew.

When Mr Kirby stated GW PLC were '... in the buisness of selling toy soldiers to kiddies... ' and GW PLC followed this buisness statment ,they encounterd some problems, didnt they?

So whats going to drag GW PLC out of the doldrums,hyping overpriced stuff to kiddies.(Hasnt worked for the last 3 years.)

Or developing and supporting a wide range of games to interest and engage all the potential long term gamers that are exposed to GW product?
(This worked very well for about 20 years.)

Why has GW distanced itself from the rest of the table top (war)gaming hobby?
Is this not ultimatley counter productive, in terms of restricting potential growth?
Or do GW manegment feel thier product so inferior/ overpriced , that they fear direct comparison?


TTFN
Lanrak.

selfconstrukt
03-09-2007, 23:24
Well, you don't have to be competent to keep your job, just cunning/devious enough to keep it, as many management staff at GW (and other places) are.

GW would also only have to give redundancy packages to employees if they were made redundant, GW is not doing that, they are "finding" reasons to terminate employees so they do not have to give out redundancy packages.

You can get rid of anyone if you twist the facts around enough.

Frodo34x
03-09-2007, 23:24
... Paul Sawyer ... been made redundant. ...
*sheds single manly tear in honour of fat bloke*

Omegakai
03-09-2007, 23:54
It is my understanding that their contracts haven't been renewed. but the retaining roles as consultants

Dayhan
04-09-2007, 00:20
Reading Paul "Fat Bloke" Sawyer is no longer at GWS is rather sad. He made the game fun and light hearted. I've just dug out some old WD with articles of his. It was his article on collecting a chaos army per months that turned me from 40k to Warhammer and Chaos (why am I singing his praise considering how badly I play chaos lol). A real loss when GWS could really do with all the help they can get at the moment.

Crube
06-09-2007, 16:24
I knew Paul, even from before his days as edior of the old Journal, and he was a top bloke (even if he did support Notts County) His is one whose presense at GW will be keenly felt - a true hobbyist. Shame he's left - for whatever reason.

Sad about all the others too - makes you wonder...

Vic
06-09-2007, 16:42
Every time I saw a pictue of Fat Bloke, for some reason, I was reminded of orks...Not really knowing him, he seemed like a nice "drinking buddy" kind of guy.

Sarevok
06-09-2007, 17:20
Every time I saw a pictue of Fat Bloke, for some reason, I was reminded of orks...Not really knowing him, he seemed like a nice "drinking buddy" kind of guy.

I was reminded of Ogres.....I wonder if its ok to post the "Sawyer Kingdoms" pic now?

synapse
06-09-2007, 18:20
such a shame. makes me wonder just what goes through the minds of head honchos up there in the spires of hive GW :(

Gen.Steiner
07-09-2007, 01:14
:cries:

On hearing this, I am glad that I was turned down for a staffer position. Pirinen, Sawyer, et al, are missed. :(

ExquisiteEvil
07-09-2007, 05:32
If this theory is true Gav and Jervis better watch their backs. They are next.

Good - the sooner the better.

Its funny - when GW culls people it likes to get rid of the talented ones first.

Successful companies do the opposite.

GW also likes to stick their fingures in their ears to any potential customer concerns or problems.

Successful companies do the opposite.

hmmm, I see a pattern here......

Capitán Sánchez
07-09-2007, 08:00
I'll miss Gary Morley. :(


All we need now is Morley to head off to join Chris Fitzpatrick or Mike McVey and bring the others with him and GW will have to tremble in there mighty boots - Wargods could easily be GW's biggest rival if it could both increase its productivity and lower its cost in line with GW

AFAIK, Félix Paniagua is also working for Mike McVey.


Not Fat Bloke! His snarky editorial comments in white dwarf were half the reason i read the magazine! GW without Fat Bloke will be like Dwarves without beards.


(A little off-topic): His snarkly editorial comments had been never translated into Spanish nor published in Spanish WD. It reminds me old Mike Walker articles... :cries:


Gary Morley was in charge of training new sculptors......

That hasn't really been the case for a few years.
Gary's been based in Memphis for some time which would tend to preclude any hands-on training with new sculpting recruits he may have been responsible for earlier.

Although I hear he's now back in the UK.

Same as Juan Díaz, IIRC, but he's not back in the UK, AFAIK.

[whisper mode on] I'd like to know what does Brother Frog think about this [whisper mode off] :evilgrin:


Thank you

blongbling
07-09-2007, 08:52
GW isnt a one man operation and no one person is bigger than the machine. Three have been many editors of WD over the years and many painters and sculptors more talented than the ones you mention.

If this thread really just an excuse to have ANOTHER go at GW........people come adn go in a business, thats the nature of it.

To be honest, this people are the ones who make you the great models or do fantastic paint jobs...they are still given a brief and told what to do, they put in the actual work but then they have to change and alter things to suit the brief.

yabbadabba
07-09-2007, 13:27
GW isnt a one man operation and no one person is bigger than the machine. Three have been many editors of WD over the years and many painters and sculptors more talented than the ones you mention.

To be honest, this people are the ones who make you the great models or do fantastic paint jobs...they are still given a brief and told what to do, they put in the actual work but then they have to change and alter things to suit the brief.

I have quoted this because of similar thoughts but along a different line. I have met plenty of store managers and FT staff over the years who have massively contributed to my hobby, and my appreciation and respect of what they do. They will be the unsung heroes who have left over the years and, IMO, their leaving has left GW a poorer place.

Art Is Resistance
07-09-2007, 20:48
Sculptors come and go.

If they lose Jes Goodwin, The Perry twins, Ali Morrison or Mark Bedford then I would be worried.

and yes, I do know that some of the names above don't work directly for GW - but if they lose the talent there.....

ThousandPlateaus
08-09-2007, 00:34
Good Lord - not Fat Bloke?!

That's mental! He was the core of GW for so long (well, it's public face, anyway) - I didn't always like what he did, but he was always honest about why he did it and all his decisions made sense.

Although, to be fair, I'm really glad they've given Gary Morley the push, they should have done so years ago - I never understood the logic of keeping someone in employment whilst they continue to produce poor quality, poor selling product.

Still, weird changes afoot at GW HQ.

Crazy Harborc
08-09-2007, 01:54
Um.....any members of the board of directors and or the CEO been given the ol' heave ho??

Orcdom
08-09-2007, 05:22
thats usually not the case, they are in the position of power to protect thier jobs the longest.

Steve

Bael
08-09-2007, 06:01
I never understood the logic of keeping someone in employment whilst they continue to produce poor quality, poor selling product.
Indeed. For years, GW had a pretty bad habit of moving people "sideways" rather than just firing them when they realised they were incompetent. I'm hoping they have got over this by now.

Grimshawl
08-09-2007, 07:26
Um.....any members of the board of directors and or the CEO been given the ol' heave ho??

Nah their all parasitic leaches, they will still be sucking the last juices out of GWs bloated corpse to the last dreg, perhaps they will even manage to burrow down into the flesh and bone and eat out the marow before the dept collectors divi up the remains.

yabbadabba
08-09-2007, 13:39
Um.....any members of the board of directors and or the CEO been given the ol' heave ho??

John Stallard is the only one as far as I know.

Son of the Lion
11-09-2007, 09:12
Indeed. For years, GW had a pretty bad habit of moving people "sideways" rather than just firing them when they realised they were incompetent. I'm hoping they have got over this by now.

Welcome to the world of corporate HR!

Seriously, this is one of the most widespread and oft-lamented practices in any large company, not to mention government organisational bodies like the civil service and the NHS.

GW are hardly unique, and rather unlikely to change any time soon.

MF3000
22-09-2007, 10:24
You know... I've just been reading some of the earlier white dwarfs... like number 35. And in the editorial (yes an editorial where people send in fiery letters of anger and the editor wittily responds) they were mentioning the issues of White Dwarf (not GW) mainstreaming the RPG genre.

Interesting stuff, now that after well over 20 years of that WD being issued (and I'm sure that's not the 'first' of complaints over 'mainstreaming' and 'corporatism' of our hobby), this recent issue over some of the 'auld elites' being laid off, has allowed the leering head of corporatism to manifest itself!

I think ultimately it could be a good thing for the hobby in general. In the long term, the skills and experience will spread throughout the industry and increase the number of competing companies. Obviously it will not be easy for the new companies to compete well against GW... but importantly, it's really exciting to see how some of the members on many different forums - including Warseer - are very adamant on supporting any other 'off-shoot' minority companies. I think I certainly wouldn't mind dipping my fingers in other pots (or however those weird sayings go).

sj

Hlokk
22-09-2007, 11:09
Seriously, this is one of the most widespread and oft-lamented practices in any large company, not to mention government organisational bodies like the civil service and the NHS.
I have a degree in HRM and I agree with you to a large extent. A lot of people within HR are not interested in doing their job properly or furthering the interests of the company, but seek only to make their own jobs secure. HR is beneficial if it is done right though, its just a shame that there are very few people who seek to truly show people what the HR function, when working properly, can do.

Having said that, has anyone considered that this could be a preventative measure by GW, rather than a reactionary measure? Consider this. GW could recognise that there may be trouble ahead and be preparing for this by making people redundant now, rather than two or three years down the line when redundancy payments are going to be larger and they may have to make more people redundant at the same time, resulting in a lot of money going out of the company at once. When you view it that way, it kind of makes sence.

leonmallett
22-09-2007, 11:29
Sculptors come and go.

If they lose Jes Goodwin, The Perry twins, Ali Morrison or Mark Bedford then I would be worried.

and yes, I do know that some of the names above don't work directly for GW - but if they lose the talent there.....

I'd add Juan Diaz to the list.

Tim Adcock's going surpises me most, because of his work in war Machines and vehicles (although this loss may be ameliorated by the CAd as a previous poster noted.

MF3000
22-09-2007, 11:41
Tim Adcock, and his ... what I felt to be the most amazing thing ever when released, the Imperial Guards sentinels... damn those things were so amazing.

sj

gitburna
22-09-2007, 14:02
Tim Adcock, and his ... what I felt to be the most amazing thing ever when released, the Imperial Guards sentinels... damn those things were so amazing.

sj

Tim created the actual models yeah, but am i right in thinking that Jes is responsible for most preliminary designs when it comes to plastics? Im sure i remember seeing Jes sketches of the sentinel in White Dwarf around that time. If thats the case, and Jes produces the designs which other sculptors then recreate then things are nearly as bad as are being made out

Mad Doc Grotsnik
22-09-2007, 14:10
Once again just a tidbit of information on British Employment Law.

In Britain, you cannot just be sacked, unless it is a clear cut case of an extremely naughty nature (thieving, violent assaults etc..). If your just a bit/very rubbish at your job, it is the employers OBLIGATION to do what they can to get you back up to speed, be it compassionate leave (personal problems) additional training, workplace bullying etc.. There is also a strict path to be follow.

First verbal warning.
Second Verbal warning, during which both sides are entitled to third party attendance, which culminates in First Written Warning.
Second Written Warning.
Out of a job.

Thus, it's relatively easy to be totally rubbish at your job for some time before losing it, especially if you can show short term improvement before slipping back to good old fashioned incompetence.

Quite a lot more to it, hence why some people get moved around a company rather than 'just fired'

silashand
22-09-2007, 14:54
Um.....any members of the board of directors and or the CEO been given the ol' heave ho??

They are usually the last to go, often simply because they have expensive severance packages ("golden parachutes") as part of their contracts. Kirby has a big one from what I understand and it would cost GW a few million pounds to simply terminate his contract. Shame, but it is what it is.

I will actually miss Fat Bloke of all the names mentioned. He was the best editor WD ever had and I enjoyed reading his missives. Hope he finds something better.

Cheers, Gary

selfconstrukt
22-09-2007, 15:47
They are the last to ge, mainly since they are the ones who make those decisions! Do you really think TK is going to lay himself off?

selfconstrukt
22-09-2007, 15:49
Indeed. For years, GW had a pretty bad habit of moving people "sideways" rather than just firing them when they realised they were incompetent. I'm hoping they have got over this by now.

Nope, they still do this. Remember, you don't have to be competent to keep your job and get promoted. You just have to be more cunning than the rest.

Crazy Harborc
22-09-2007, 20:42
They are the last to ge, mainly since they are the ones who make those decisions! Do you really think TK is going to lay himself off?

In the real world of high finance....stockholders would vote them out.;) THAT is one of the main reasons for those golden parachutes.

MF3000
22-09-2007, 22:32
@ gitburna - ahhh I didn't know it was a Jes Goodwin concept. I guess he was behind the mould/sprue designs as well then. Hmmm I donno what to think now.

sj

freddythebig
22-09-2007, 22:56
Once again just a tidbit of information on British Employment Law.

In Britain, you cannot just be sacked, unless it is a clear cut case of an extremely naughty nature (thieving, violent assaults etc..). If your just a bit/very rubbish at your job, it is the employers OBLIGATION to do what they can to get you back up to speed, be it compassionate leave (personal problems) additional training, workplace bullying etc.. There is also a strict path to be follow.

First verbal warning.
Second Verbal warning, during which both sides are entitled to third party attendance, which culminates in First Written Warning.
Second Written Warning.
Out of a job.

Thus, it's relatively easy to be totally rubbish at your job for some time before losing it, especially if you can show short term improvement before slipping back to good old fashioned incompetence.

Quite a lot more to it, hence why some people get moved around a company rather than 'just fired'

Very true, unless it is a case of gross misconduct there would be possible appeals at each stage as well.
I hold a union position in a large manufacturing company and have been involved in all kinds of discussions about individuals abilities to do their jobs. People usually have to be pretty stupid to get sacked these days.
Redundancy is another matter and it is usually the case that if the person goes, it is because the job itself has gone. You cannot make someone redundant and then employ someone else in the same role.