Damocles’ sword of redundancy

Damocles' sword of redundancy fell on me and I was saved; yet it can fall again any day now as the economy falters in Australia.

Damocles’ sword of redundancy fell on me and I was saved; yet it can fall again any day now as the economy falters in Australia.

Comments about this post on ABC Open 500 words – Endings.

When I realised that I had been identified as an excess employee, everything seemed to be shattering around me!

I felt so ashamed yet angry because I always prided myself on my devotion to, and excellence in, my job. My skills were highly valued in the team. I was only 50 and had planned to work at least 10 more years. I was disheartened and worried what I’d live on and do after this job.

I asked my supervisor why I had been made excess and she told me that there had been a quick one-hour evaluation of twenty-odd staff, without criteria given from top management. I was rated at the bottom because I didn’t mentor any graduates! I had never received any feedback about this weakness of mine! When pursued with the mentor question, the supervisor told me that they usually paired recent graduates with new graduates for mentoring and so I didn’t stand a chance because I hadn’t been paired off in this way!

I was ashen-faced, trembled and couldn’t sleep or eat. It had only been eighteen hours since I had been informed until the meeting with the Manager, at which I told him I wanted to be redeployed instead of taking a voluntary redundancy package.

I overcame my shame to ask around and discovered that around twenty-odd staff in the branch had been told that they were excess, including the Section Head! Those staffs were 50 years of age or more, on work compo or took lots of sick leave. It hit home that I may have been chosen because I was middle-aged, on reduced duty due to work injury, a part-time worker, and vocal on workplace problems and workplace reforms.

I came to work, dodged facing the Manager and was afraid to open my mouth in case words of despair and rage would come out. I felt scared and suspicious of anyone close to the Manager, or from the same country as him. Colleagues avoided me and I felt like an outcast! As a result, I suffered from insomnia and a muscular twitch.

The company was challenged by the Union for a correct process in identifying excess in the company, so I was spared being made redundant; yet I heard no official confirmation on my position and whenever I enquired, I was told the redundancy papers may still be on their way to me! That was two years ago.

These days, as the economy falters, I see many shops closed in shopping centres and frequently hear news of job cuts on TVs and in newspapers. In my office, overseas contractors are replacing Australian permanent staff.

I felt bitter that my days of feeling secure in my job had come to an end. These days I feel as if I’d be more appreciated if I’d work odd hours and not claim overtime, not take leave when I’m sick and volunteer to take on extra duties. I was so stressed not to make even micro mistakes. I was advised to lay low at work in case I would “stir the hornet’s nest”. I have changed to working fulltime. My injury has healed and I am back on full duty. I hope that with all my current efforts and changes in circumstances, I’d be let off at future redundancy rounds!

Damocles’ stinking sword, fall on me!
Lays in wait, aims at me, I can’t flee.
I’m scared and despair!
Then I wail, “It’s not fair!”.
Still I hope Manager will spare me!
(Limerick-style poem)

Image credit
by Mike Licht

Damocles' sword of redundancy fell on me and I was saved; yet it can fall again any day now as the economy falters in Australia.

Damocles’ sword of redundancy fell on me and I was saved; yet it can fall again any day now as the economy falters in Australia.

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2 thoughts on “Damocles’ sword of redundancy

  1. It is an interesting story. It is sad that the pressure of job cuts in Australia and the dim outlook of economic recovery affect the working conditions of those who still have a job and narrow the chances of those looking for jobs after loosing their recent ones.

    Like

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