Yet more replies from Dominic
@Adamwill: Unions *were* a good thing, where we part company is that they are all that useful today given their tendency to follow agendas that workers either don't support or dislike.
As for the point about outsiders coming in to mess with staff being stopped by unions, the reverse is observed to be true. If you look at the public sector, much of which in unionised consultants crawl all over that assessing staff and "improving" their work practices.
Also they do play politics, one guy I used to work for was terminated because a union rep became his manager and they'd fallen out because of a strike.
The word "blame" is tossed around in this discussion a lot and references made to the more formal processes found in engineering. This part of my work exists because most IT groups have no such process, they get me instead. It follows that sometimes I have to work out whether the thing that happened was bad at all, one report I wrote basically said "I can see why this scared you shitless but actually nothing much really happened and it is gone now".
Backup tapes do fail, I recall reading various stats about how often backups can't be restored, and numbers vary from 10 to 50%. The vast majority of s/w bugs are stupid, not just mine either.
One issue in some code written by IBM was where someone had taken an error code, coerced it to a memory address and copied data into it. I will admit here and in public that I've called the wrong function by mistake. That's the nature of IT.
A big difference between safety-critical systems and corporate IT is navigation around black boxes.
Our daily work consists of dealing with large lumps that every so often fail to do what we expect and give diagnostics of the form "Operation failed". Which is less than useful and isn't predictable and where the vendor will flatly refuse to tell you why.
I have read the RBS is suing CA, someone like me is going to make some money out of just this sort of situation.