Buddha, fear is in the air!

These days, I feel like an alien in my workplace.

These days, I feel like an alien in my workplace.

Comments about this post on ABC Open 500 words – Odd one out.

Fear was etched on their faces and showed in their voices! Shame kept them in isolation until I connected them with others in the same boat, including myself! They’d been identified as excess employees who were either 50-or-above, disliked or considered troublesome by management, on work compo or took lots of sick leave. I was 50, vocal on workplace problems and reforms, on reduced duty due to work injury and worked part-time.

The section head was also declared redundant yet someone much younger was immediately promoted to act in the “no-longer-wanted” position. Injustice displayed its ugly naked body!

The news that I and others may be sent to a building reserved only for the excess staff made me feel humiliated. I suffered from insomnia and a muscular twitch and couldn’t bring myself to greet the Manager. Yet some of those excess staff believed it was wise to avoid challenging the Manager about their “excess” situations and be “extra friendly” to him as they still hadn’t received any confirmation papers and decisions could still be revised at the last minute.

While waiting for official papers, tasks continued to be given out. The workplace counsellor advised me to continue to do my tasks well and keep turning up for work even if I was too distressed so as not to give management reason to sack me. The workplace was challenged by the Union on the correct procedure for identifying excess staff so I was spared being made redundant. However, there was no official confirmation on my position and whenever I enquired, I was told that the redundancy papers may still be on the way to me! It was mid 2012.

These days, I feel like an alien in my workplace. I work but always look over my shoulder, expecting the Damocles’ “sword of redundancy” to fall on me as the Australian economy continues to falter. When I make even tiny mistakes, I feel stressed. When I am sick, I am afraid to take leave. When the graduates “work weekends” as normal hours because they were told there was no overtime money, I feel threatened. When others were commended for taking on extra duties, I feared not doing the same. I was aghast when the Manager promoted another staff member to my level to keep her from leaving my team when they’d declared that I was excess at that level!

When the supervisor told me to “lay low, don’t stir the hornet’s nest” as I complained about another senior staff member, I froze with fear. I dare not complaining about my wokload or upset any colleagues. I feel scared and suspicious of anyone close to the Manager, or from the same country as him. I feel like going back to live with the Communists in Vietnam! I find it’s hard to mingle with colleagues who avoided me when I was excess so I just like to keep to myself. I see hypocrisy behind the Manager’s grin at me.

Adding to the worry, the workplace is undergoing changes in technology and interstate job relocations. I feel lost at workplace celebrations and bitter when hearing slogans of an “innovative new-tech workplace transformation”, of “investing in people” while meetings are held to tell staff of more redundancies expected to come up for those that lack skills, their skills aren’t advanced enough or their positions need to be relocated. Many of my colleagues left. I feel anxious whether I would get the training for new technical skills. I worry that I don’t have a task to work on. I distrust management!

Consultancy companies flourish as a new wave of contractors with new-tech skills arrived under temporary work (skilled) 457 visas. Most of them come from the one country. They push the domestic contract rates down. They work exceptional hours to meet volatile deadlines and to keep their jobs. They yearn for permanent residency. The women get pregnant and the men go back to their country to get married or their wives give birth in Australia. The Union questions the company on the balance of staff cuts and the employment of those contractors. My and other permanent staff members’ career are endangered by the competitiveness of the overseas contractors.

Dear Buddha, fear is in the air!
As the world is no longer fair!
Injustice grins with dirty teeth,
And lie wears a victory wreath.

Unexpected horror’s laid bare,
Dear Buddha, fear is in the air!
When today the fixed job is gone,
The contract job arrives dead on.

To relocate or lose the job,
Staff facing the jobless scare sob,
Dear Buddha, fear is in the air!
For those without the new tech flair.

When the axe falls on me again,
I hope the reason’s genuine then.
Now and then I do say a prayer,
Dear Buddha, fear is in the air!
(Quatern-style poem)

Image credit
by Rachel Carter.

These days, I feel like an alien in my workplace. These days, I feel like an alien in my workplace.[/caption

2 thoughts on “Buddha, fear is in the air!

  1. Pingback: Interview: hiMe printed the book of her story as a Refugee | Blookup Blog

  2. That is a terrible environment to be living/working in. I remember the times that I use to work in an office environment, and I hated it, because of the injustices, and unfairness. I cleaned toilets for 10 years, so not to work in an office. I feel sad for you. Once again, your poetry captures the essence of your writing.


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