Monday, December 05, 2005

Career Opportunities

I got a scary mail from management back home today - they're holding a 'review' of our job function at a meeting during Christmas week, which I won't be back for...

'The aim of the inquiry is to build a picture of what support and development is required going forward and to identify value and non-value added activity currently undertaken. A working team will be formed from these inquiry sessions to process the information gathered and to make recommendations for the future.'

(management guff underlined)

It sounds innocuous, but it isn't. My job function lists off pages of responsibilities before concluding with the line 'and any other roles or functions as deemed necessary by Production Management', which basically means 'you do as your told'. In a job like mine (non-union, non-management, salaried technical) you're given set targets and it's up to you to meet them. This means that while the clock-watchers, who are paid by the hour, are out the gap at 4.25 pm every day; the likes of me, who get no OT, can be in 'til any time of the day or night. On many more than one occasion I've fallen out of bed at 3am to go to work to fix some stupid cock-up - and I'll never see a brass cent for it, you do it out of professional pride and no more.

However, one of the management myths that's dumped down on the likes of us to keep us in check is that working long hours is not the company's fault - it's our own fault. Once, two years ago, when I was virtually covering the place on my own because my boss had allowed three people take holidays at the same time, I was informed that I needed to go on a Time Management Skills training course. I told the smug HR clock-watcher that if he'd like to hang around for some time-and-a-half I'd be up around 6pm to stick his training course up his hole. He left at 4.25.

So this meeting is ostensibly designed to find ways of reducing the so-called 'non-value added' workload, which in our business means investigating cock-ups and doing regulatory paper work. The thing is, the company has consciously allowed our QA department to dictate what production regulatory requirements there are (there are few hard and fast rules, just issued guidelines) and has no intention of rolling these back. Instead they want to reduce the time we spend explaining deviations by reducing the number of them. Unfortunately the method they intend choosing is introducing a 'buddy' system for the people at my level. This means that as well as being responsible for my own work I'll be partly responsible for a colleague's as well (they intend doubling the man hours without doubling the number of people), thus increasing my workload exponentially.

The implication is that delays and deviations are always our fault and that this method will reduce them, thus making the time investment 'worth it' - but, in fact, they rarely are. The mistakes are made by the unionised workers who don't give a damn and are plain careless and the delays are caused by lazy-ass clock watchers who choose being out the door on time over completing a ten-minute job that allows me to get my work done on time. But it's always our fault by extension because our 'instructions weren't clear enough' or 'training was lacking' or 'there wasn't enough notice given' or some other shite that allows management dump on us and avoid a confrontation with unions.

I have no interest in promotion so I'd happily tell the managers where to go if I was at this meeting. However too many of my colleagues are over-ambitious, jumped up lickspittles, like Lenny (who will be back in time) so they're going to say stupid things along the lines of 'teamwork', communication', 'meetings', 'metrics' and any other shit that fills their heads - basically they're going to bend over and let themselves be ridden lest they affect any future promotion opportunities. Management know this right well too, so I just might as well go with the flow I suppose.
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