Lately, I haven't had much time
to blog. I've been teaching English at four
schools. This is the summer season, where the primary and secondary
schools are closed. The mums and dads want to get their kids out of
their house - and what better than to educate them at the same time?
That means that at your normal English school, the curriculum expands
from weeknights and weekends to the fresh, fertile terrain of the
9-to-5 Monday to Friday working day.
I did not deliberately aim to
work at four schools. Until March of this year, I had been working only
at School #1 for a year. Then I took a holiday with my
fiancée to Australia. All my classes were given to someone
else. That's ok. Unfortunately, School #1 decided not to give me any
new classes when I got back. There weren't many available, and their
priority was to give the new ones to the full-timers. They'd also been
pursuing a policy of hiring a lot of new teachers for the summer
season, so there were even less classes than normal. After a few weeks
the very meager pickings of substitute work, I thought "enough was
enough". It was time to update my resume, and fire it off to a few
I succeeded in scoring work at
Schools #2, #3 and #4... while School #1 finally gave me a regular
the next couple of weeks. I've now got 32 hours of teaching. Multiply
the preparation time by 1.5 to 2, and that gives me about 50 to 64
hours of doing work related shit. My schedule now looks like misaligned
Lego blocks. I admit it will be exhausting, but it will also be
lucrative, and I only have two or three months of it to deal with. It
is all shift work.
Each school knows I work at other schools, and they understand if I am
not available to do substitute work. I get paid by the hour, and that
is often the life of an English teacher.
All of this is a preamble to
this little article, which made me angry. Perhaps it's just excessive
empathy, but anyway - from The
officials in Cross Lanes told employees on Tuesday they have to start
working practically any shift, any day they’re asked, even if
they’ve built up years of seniority and can’t
arrange child care.
One paragraph alone, and I saw
more red than a VU meter at a forest rave.
Now I don't know Wal-Mart. I
hear it is a shit company to work for, and I also gather it produces
shitty products. Perhaps the nearest thing we have in Australia is a
combination of Crazy Clarks and Target, except that the quality sounds
worse than either. Oh, and you can get fired in Wal-Mart if you even
breathe the word "union". But I don't have any personal experience or
animus with the company. I only know that what Wal-Mart is doing is a
Firstly, if they say:
management said the policy change is needed to keep enough staff at the
busiest hours, ...
They're lying. They're probably
Each school I work with has a
few hard-working people on administration, trying to sort out schedules
and phoning up people for last-ditch emergencies. Teachers may come
down with a stomach bug, and they need to phone someone else to cover
the class. Yes, they can be a pain in the ass if you say "no"; they'll
ask again, and may even put on a sad face if you meet them in person.
But they're doing their job, and they never guilt-trip or threaten you
if the "no" is definitive. They also understand that you are working
shift-work, so you may not be available anyway. They'll take also take
a "no" if it is your one personal emergency. I've heard people being
sacked for that word, but only if they are lying (such as pretending to
be sick with the runs when they are really getting sick on the
alcohol). Or full-timers really working at other schools, and thus
breaching their contract.
I am also fortunate in having a
supportive partner, and no kids to manage. The same cannot be said of
the Wal-Mart workers, who often are female, divorced, and have kids to
raise. How the hell can you threated people to drop all they
are doing and work? The employees are in a dilemma: lose their job, or
face the spectacle of their unsupervised kiddies having their own
terminal experience with Mr. Hot Plate or Ms. Bathtub. For even putting
the staff in that position, the manager responsible should get a
along the whole length of the Mason-Dixon line.
The real truth is, of course,
second half of the second paragraph. It is a despicable move, but
but some employees said it appears to be an attempt to force out
longer-term, higher-paid workers.
After all, all the new
employees have to
be trained, don't they? Costs money, I thought. Kicking out the
old-timers destroys morale as well, with the resulting turnover higher
than a hydro-electric turbine. Others may argue that the turnover may
cost money, but not as much as the income of the higher-paid workers
lost in the process. After all, Wal-Mart
is a financially-successfully company by any measure, and a lot of
their wealth - they allege
- is based on careful cost-cutting, "such
as reducing paper used through computerization.". However, they have
also managed to get five members of the Walton family (relatives of the
company's founder, Sam Walton) in to the Forbes's
Top 20 Richest People in the World
list. Careful cost-cutting, my ass. That's just corporate entitlement.