"KEEP your nose clean and there’s a full-time job waiting for you. Big announcement in February.” The new Rolls Royce polo shirts imparted along with those words were symbolic, perhaps, of a halfway house between contractor and employee.

“Yes”, I reply with all the enthusiasm I can muster, “that would be fantastic”.

While only a temporary employee with the bleakest worldview dismisses all such managerial promises as cynical fabrication designed to promote loyalty, it pays to be circumspect. In this game, the unnatural sceptic learns fast.

While workers’ conditions have improved from those of 30 years ago, the clean-cut, unimaginative beings who inhabit modern day managerial positions are indoctrinated to a career of grinding platitudes: “investors in people”, “value the individual” – meaningless dogma.

It is best for the lowly contractor who understands the realities of hire-and-fire to afford them their beliefs unchallenged.

The details are agreed on paper from the outset: a contract of six months, or twelve months, or twice a lifetime is signed, yet under the EU legislation tossed around Parliament recently a contractor may be disposed of with a week’s notice.

Predictably, all debate on workers’ rights post-Brexit is taking place on the traditional battlegrounds of left and right: Labour and the unions are for the working man (or so they tell us) and the Tories are for the companies and their fat cats.

But for the contractor at least, traditional would be best replaced with mythical.

While there is little justice in being paid off with no redundancy when both parties have agreed longer term contracts, there has been no impetus by the EU or unions to change the law to make sure – gross misconduct aside – the full length of contracts are honoured.

At the same time there exists active opposition by unions to contractors working through limited companies to offset long-term loss of earnings.

PAYE set-ups which see them take home the same as their full-time colleagues may initially seem fair, until one considers that they are awarded neither sick pay nor pension.

The message, then, is that contractors are on their own, and it should come as little surprise that most are apathetic to unions.

Despite Theresa May’s claims that UK workers’ rights currently exceed EU standards, a post-Brexit UK, she believes, should not necessarily track EU changes.

The implications are clear, and it is no appealing thought that contractors could in future undercut their full-time colleagues.

When February arrived that big Rolls Royce announcement was, not unpredictably, somewhat smaller than the manager had depicted.

SO small, in fact, that it was to fit within the 150 character limit of a text message: Contract terminated with one week’s notice which you are not required to work, delivered via the intermediary employment agency as I stood fishing on the banks of the River Tay.

While full-time work may be appealing as I creep towards middle age, contracting’s itinerant nature provides an enduring, almost romantic draw. Rolls Royce, of Nae Pasaran fame and the heydays of the factory in East Kilbride, no less than any before it.

To contractors at peace with the wiles of our world, to those who stand back from grudges between management and unions, this draw is unlikely to be diminished by whatever form workers’ rights take post-Brexit.

There is however a code of decency which supersedes legislation. By denying me the opportunity to shake the hand of those with whom I worked, Rolls Royce coldly and deliberately degraded the human to the commodity.

It seems an inconceivably stupid public relations blunder to make an enemy of the indifferent. No union, political or trade, can be expected to legislate against such self-inflicted wounds.