27 July 2013

Work attitude

As some of you may remember, I am part of a union at work. Today was a meeting to vote on our new collective agreement after a mediator was called in because both sides reached a stalemate. We voted 19-4 in favour of the new proposal and so now the bargaining is done for another four years. What was interesting to me was some people's attitudes about the workplace.

The way I see it you are paid to perform certain tasks at a specified pace. Everything is timed at work (for me it's scaling each item at 3 minutes per label (one label being one ingredient in one recipe), for others is might be two people spinning a rack (128 cakes) of graham in 20 minutes). So when you are hired you are told what your duties will be including the catch-all phrase "and any other work as assigned" and then trained in your position. Then you are paid for your time in completing your duties. To me, that is where the relationship with my work ends. This is not the case with some people.

We had a cook that did not have the physical strength to do her job. The recipes of ganache, caramel, condensed milk, etc are all more than 100 kg each. They all require the cook to stand over a hot steam kettle and stir the recipe with a paddle as long as an oar. When the recipes are done, she is to then open the tap and drain the kettles into pails, then lift the pails (of 16 kg of very hot product) onto a cart or a rack for storage. Eventually, her body gave out and she was in too much pain to continue the job. She filed a claim with Worker's Compensation but instead of them approving a claim of disability, they have her on modified duties that require less strength. Now that previous cook is going around saying the company should have 'taken care' of her, and it was their fault that she got hurt. She thinks that the company should enforce a disability claim so she can rest at home instead of work. Um...when she was hired she was told what the job entailed. In her first three months (standard probation period) she would have made all the recipes she would ever make and would have known what, exactly, her job was about. How can it be the company's fault that she was unable to do the job? If it became too much for her, why did she continue instead of look for other work or request a transfer to a different department? Why is it up to the company to make sure you are not working past your capacity? Her argument is also that the company should reduce her workload to better suit her strength. Uh, no, the job is extremely physical as some jobs tend to be. She knew it by the end of her first week of work, so it's not like they hoodwinked her into it. 

And, she would complain that one day would be horrendously busy with nothing to cook on the next day. This is, unfortunately, standard for that position. I suggested to her that she look at the days ahead after the recipe sheets are made, figure out which days are heavy and light, and ask to do some of the recipes earlier in the week. Like caramel can sit for a month at a time, no need to make it exactly on the day it's scheduled. Her response to me? "Yes, why didn't Bakery Manager do that for me?". Um, why didn't you do it for yourself? "Because I shouldn't have to", was her response. Ok, yes, BM should have done it for you, but if it makes your job easier, and you are capable of doing it, why expect someone else to do it for you? I asked her if she asked BM to rearrange her workload. She said "why should I have to ask? He should make it easier for me." Oh, ok, but how does he know you want it done if you don't ask? She harrumphed and walked away from me.

In the same vein, one of the ladies working in the prep department has requested a copy of the schedule. That way, as she completes a task like greasing pans or spinning graham, she can physically cross it off. Good idea, especially if it makes her more efficient and accurate. Unfortunately, Big Boss Lady has a short term memory with helping her employees and has forgotten to give a copy of the schedule to the prep department. So I suggested she take my schedule and photocopy it. Her response: "I shouldn't have to, that's BBL's job." Ok, yes it is. But she forgets. I don't even get a schedule unless I ask, and ask, and ask, week after week after week. Sometimes I get one out of the blue, and it's a treat. And if it makes your job easier to have the schedule, why not take matters into your own hands and get a copy of the schedule every week? Why rely on someone else to make your job easy and then bitch about it when it's not done for you?

At the meeting today one new employee was asking about our benefits plan. It doesn't cover things like paid time off for funerals, caring for sick family members, or dealing with children with terminal illnesses. This is unfortunate. We do have four paid sick days a year and five paid days off for bereavement if a family member dies (additional time off is given to attend funerals, without pay). In our new agreement will be a plan for allowing time off to care for sick family members, from one day off to many, and unpaid. This new employee was arguing the point asking how these families can function if they don't have paid time off to manage illnesses. The negotiator kept repeating that the company's stance throughout the bargaining was that they will not pay any more than they already do for when you are not at work. The new employee was angry that the company doesn't 'take care' of its employees and provide them with paid time off.

Well, I can see the company's point of view here. Why should they pay you when you are not at work? How many people would take advantage of it if they did? I mean, there was one woman who would take time off because her dog was sick or because it was Friday. If you really need the time (surgery, family member surgery, chronic illness) we have short term disability that you can apply for. It's paid time off. Why assume the company will take care of you? They are just your job, nothing more, nothing less. Your personal life is really not much of a concern for them. Why pay someone for time they are not working?

I just have a hard time with this attitude that the world owes some people a better life. It owes you nothing. And work is just not in any way responsible for making sure you can live the life you want or need. It is up to the individual to plan spending based on income, not ask for a raise because you can't pay your bills. This attitude of entitlement is just...selfish and wrong to me. 

1 comment:

none of your beeswax said...

mannnnnnnn coworkers suck. i find it hard to relate to some people's complaints. but i just tune them out for the most part