The day your loyal kabayan joined the Union


"and I want an extra ciggie break... and I want more towels in the washroom... and I want a regular mental health day... THEN MAYBE I'll move aside 😉

Note : Please keep this to yourself kabayan, can’t have too many of us rabble rousers / trouble-makers circulating, it’s bad enough I’m outside without my medication today 🙂  Happy birthday (10th Apr) to Mr Dickson Sy, thanks for reading ! ]

IF YOU still don’t believe revolutions devour their own children, Boss, who was one of the staunchest stalwarts of the new health and safety regime in the company, walked off the plank after the short formality of a grievance hearing, without even the courtesy of a send-off that the company allowed the humblest of employees in the plant.

Without giving away too much (self-preservation trumps altruism, every time), a series of events, some serendipitous to the instigators, were presented to show that Boss wasn’t concerned enough or worse, was reckless in performing his duties to the detriment of the anal (sorry for the graphic adjective) H&S paranoia that had taken over senior management.

Trouble was, there was collateral damage to contend with, because for him to accept command responsibility and fall on his sword (my my, quite a few war-related idioms for one sentence no?), several staff would need to accept blame, albeit for official chores that Boss supposedly authorized.

The problem was these official chores were things that had been, until the new H&S regime had taken hold, part of the S.O.P. of maintenance procedure, for as long as the last 15 years?  For doing what they’d been doing since forever, how were you going to give a final warning to hard-working, responsible employees?

Which is what manangement was gonna give, despite the fact that it was a first offense, and that the ink with which the new rules were printed had hardly dried.

This was clearly a union matter, except for the fact that only two out of the three sacrificial accused were union members.  The union gamely rose to the occasion, on-the-spot accepted the barbarian (figuratively speaking) and on that same day, exposed to all and sundry how untenable the feudal lords’ position was.

Ultimately Boss couldn’t escape his fate, confidence was lost in him the day Someone In Corporate decided it was so.  But it was a signal to all concerned that if you wanted to survive in such an environment, no matter what your political persuasion was, you had better join the union.

(For the record, I think he was offered between three to six months salary for his 23 years of faithful service.  It wasn’t like he had much choice in the matter, as even his counsel told him that taking the money was the practical thing to do. Oh, the injustice ! )

No one coerced me (as if I could be coerced), and I had turned them down before, but I had strong motivation for changing my mind ASAP.  Alone among the staff, I was (is) a work visa holder (everyone else was a local or a permanent resident); the most junior in my department; and if you’re superstitious, I’m the only Asian, after Boss left. (what does that have to do with luck ? ! ?)

The union rep, a toothless Maori forklift jockey who was thick as thieves with everyone who mattered at work, was very much like a Pinoy, meaning he was all smiles with the corporates, and kept the knives and daggers in his locker.

We’re gonna hold a meeting later Noel, you’re not officially a brotha yet (made me feel like a gangsta) but you’re welcome to attend, we’re not gonna take this (Boss incident) sitting down.  I hate seeing their smug faces.

***               ***               ***               ***               ***

Which was an AWESOME way to welcome me into their fold.  I later learned, as I told you before, that the 3% hourly wage hike was gonna be renegotiated, that the Other Party had agreed to an adjustment to the redundancy pay provision, and one strange freebie.

It wouldn’t be denominated as such, but our employers were also going to assume paying for the weekly union dues !  The reason/s given was fuzzy, but as long as it was a benefit, thank you very much new Boss, whoever you are up there. 😦

And that’s the how and why of the day Your Loyal Blogger kabayan joined the union.

Thanks for reading and workers of the world, unite!

Noel

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