05 February 2009

Four Day Week

As you can tell from the title...I'm on a four day week at work. Things are slow and so for the next little while we are not working on Fridays. In order to continue buying things like food and rent, I had to re-adjust my budget down. My budget cried and stamped its feet at this prospect but eventually gave in. I suppose it's a good thing to learn to live on less. It's also a sucky thing. Really, adjusting the budget up is sooooo much easier.

When the bosses announced this change in the schedule I thought it might be ok. I thought they would take the workload and keep it the same, just make it over four days instead of five. I was wrong. The workload is actually less than what it was before so filling an eight hour shift is difficult. We were promised that we would get eight hours if we wanted even if the schedule was light. So I've been filling my days with making cake sample boxes for our new distributor (who hasn't pulled any stock yet) or picking plastic off of baking racks. Baking racks are six feet high with four to six shelves and the unit is on wheels. The shelving is like a cooling rack and each spoke of stainless steel is coated in plastic. Well, we can't have plastic falling off into the cakes so we've been picking it off. I keep reminding myself I'm paid by the hour when I do that. And it's really satisfying to pick off big pieces of plastic....oh yeah....it's like popping bubble wrap. Addictive, stimmy and frustrating all at the same time.

In addition to rack picking and sample making, I've been wandering around and talki...er...supervising. Yeah. Supervising. When one boss asked what I was doing (I was literally just standing and staring at the schedule) I told him I was honing my time management skills. After all, it's time management to get all the work done in eight hours - whether it's a lot of work or a little. Groups of us also have Safety Meetings. You know....where nobody moves so nobody can get hurt.

One thing that occurred to me in the suspicious little corner of my brain, was that the bosses are lightening the load of work because we are in negotiations for a new contract. The employees will be less likely to strike if we don't have a lot of work. They already fear losing their jobs because of the lack of work. One guy told the union rep at the meeting that he was willing to take a wage cut instead of losing his job. Nobody really liked that prospect, but it did ripple through the room that it's possible the bosses won't give us much because it's slow. The union rep said that when people are depressed they eat cake so there is no worry of not getting a raise. I just don't want to take so much from the company that the company becomes financially stressed like the automakers.

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