10 December 2011

Party season

'Tis the season of the Christmas party, or Holiday party, however you like. At every place I've worked and every place my ex worked and every place my man S worked there has been a Christmas party. This party has been company wide and usually involves dressing up, dinner, music and door prizes. Normally it's held when the maximum number of people can attend, keeping in mind that some places are 24/7/365 and not everyone will be available in that case. The party has always been a good time to meet the other departments, owners, spouses and generally rub elbows with people you otherwise may not.

I work in a smallish cake factory. There are about 25 employees on hourly wage (union) that make up the production floor, and about 16 salary employees (non-union) that are partly administration and partly production floor bosses. The production floor party is usually a lunch that's brought in by Purchaser and paid for by the company. Usually this lunch is either pizza or Chinese food. We are given an hour and a half of paid time to eat the food and it's usually about mid-day. Last year the Line Supervisor (who has since quit) didn't allow the production line to stop mid way through the run to have our lunch. So the whole production floor had to wait almost an hour while the food cooled in the lunch room. Chinese food is good cold the next day, but not lukewarm on the day of purchase. It was yucky but I was thankful anyway. At least we got a free meal, is the way I thought of it. I am less thankful now that I have some additional details to consider.

Like, the salary staff has a separate party. No problem, if it's also a meal brought in. But it's not. They have had parties that include private showings of plays, private dining rooms, open bar, comedy acts brought in, and all taking place after work hours. The inequality of this situation bothers me quite a bit. I knew that Previous Owner thought of the production staff as slaves (literally, she's from South Africa and is comfortable with the idea of being an owner of people), and would think that we would be grateful for the smallest showing of affection or consideration. We should be grateful for our cold, cheap food while she and her Proper Staff have a gourmet meal. I really thought this attitude would leave when she left the company...but it didn't.

Bakery Manager is a new position held by our previous Baker. It is a salaried position instead of a union position and the man is well deserving of the title. He'd been doing the job anyway so it's good he is now receiving the pay bump and title. Now that he is salary, he mentioned he has been invited to the salary staff party. So the dual holiday parties still exist. This bothers me. And to compound this bother is the idea that the production lunch will be held on 22 December. 

Who cares? That's a Thursday, so what? Well, the last day of baking will be on 21 Dec, so the Baker and Baker Helper will begin cleaning their area and should be done by the end of their shift. The Prep ladies, Cooking and me in Scaling all work one day ahead of the rest of the plant. So our jobs will be done by 20 Dec and we will start cleaning on that day. As soon as our area is properly cleaned our Shutdown begins. So while the production line people will still be in the plant on 22 Dec, most likely finishing up the last of the cakes and then beginning their cleaning duties, the rest of us will have already begun our Shutdown time and will be off until January. Why would we bother to return to work for a free lunch?

In previous years the lunch was held so that the maximum number of people could attend. Why oh why isn't that the case this year? I asked and was told that not everybody could be accommodated. I know that, but it did occur to me that if we all had a party on a Saturday night every single employee in the building would have the opportunity to attend. We could all enjoy a gourmet meal, a play, a dance, some drinks. It's too late this year to try to get this changed and for all I know, everyone else is happy with the status quo. One thing I may try to change is the lunch on 22 Dec though. If they want the maximum number of people to attend then have a breakfast brought in. The end of the baking staff shift overlaps with the beginning of the production line shift. Not everyone would be there (night and afternoon cleaners, for instance), but it would be the majority of people.

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