Half bored and tired to death

They both nodded in agreement when she said, “I’m half bored to death in this job, nearly had it”.  Both women were freezing, sitting outside in the covered area.  Their fingers blue.

The short morning break.  You hurry, you panic, get a quick hot drink, a cigarette, quickly back into it.  Hour after hour after hour “for the last 20 years” she said.  From 5 am when she gets up to do things before rushing to work to start at 7 am.  Rush back home at 3 pm to pick up ‘the youngan-whydidIdoit’ as she said of her late in life baby.  She looked about 40.

Of course workplace fatalities and injuries are heart breaking tragedies.  People work to earn a living, this is not a war zone.   But the more common issues at work, those that grind people hour by hour for decades of their one single life are not to do with that.

They are to do with what in polite text will spawn dots.  It’s to do with the daily tiredness, humiliation and wall-to-wall disrespect experienced by so many workers on a daily basis. It’s to do with that exhausting sense of,  ‘I’ve just about had enough’.  It’s to do with what I call F..kwit Fatigue.

The fatigue that results from the bullying and harmful behaviour of too many idiotic management teams.  The increasing demands imposed on workers, the time pressure, the  obviously dangerous H&S conditions, (“But, it’s your choice, do it or don’t do it.  I’ll get someone else to do it”.)  The implicit threat and menace, the constant fear of job loss, the deliberate demeaning that goes on.  The personal humiliation, the permanent anger that results and hangs about like menacing clouds with little chance of expression.

People shrink, reduce their hopes and aspirations.  They go to work to go to work to just get the day over so they can go home, have a beer in peace or pat the proud cat.

They have now become bored ‘to death’ with the pit hole they once enjoyed going to for a day’s work.   And it all started when the pressure to work displaced the capacity to socialize a little with workmates.  To take a real breather.  The jokes, the ribbing, the pat on the back, the aroma of Sonya’s lunch from home, “Goulash again, Darls?!”

“Come on, back to work” with a sharp clap of his hands, “It won’t get done on its own folks” on the dot of 10 minutes slowly killed all that.  “F..kwit” Sonya muttered as they silently left the warm room.

Of course many workers get joy from their work.  Of course it provides for better and richer lives to some.   It goes without saying that many grow personally at work. And it ought to go without saying that many life long friendships are born at work, between workers and managers alike.

But I see too many on the other side of the ledger.  Fatigued ‘to death’ by stupid pressure and dumb management behaviour.  Such fatigue cannot be fixed by ‘Get a quite room at home – after the 14 hours night shift – and get some good sleep mate. You  have to sleep’.  No wonder there’s been a huge increase in calls for help in relation to ‘fatigue’ lately.  But better rosters and more sleep alone will not fix that.

Dr Yossi Berger
National OHS Co-ordinator
Australian Workers’ Union

reservoir, victoria, australia

3 thoughts on “Half bored and tired to death”

  1. Take the workplace I fleetingly describe in the post,
    Mervyn,

    what in your experience is the most effective and practical way of fixing the problem?

    I agree with some of the insightful comments by V V Mahesh but they seem a bit too theoretical.

  2. Pressure at work place exists for all levels of employees. More of physical work for shopfloor level while it is ;physical and mental for middle level and total mind games at top level. Some accept work initially to grow up in their career ladder only to be found trapped in never ending unrealistic goals and targets and start limping thereafter.

    Some managers measure success of their subordinates by the extra output which is justified but also by the extra hours spent which is not possible for all at all times. But those who spend extra hours (generally possible in initial years of their career) and get tagged as performers demoralize others to do the same, ultimately causing stress in all. When there is no scope for enjoying the work, unable to acquire new skills, not getting quality time and have to work under pressure, employees feel stressed and act differently in a weak moment.

    Only those who can enjoy work can perform better but managements should be careful in labeling their employees only based on the extra time spent. Increased productivity by following safety alone in the normal working hours should be the criteria and this will help the organization in the long run in terms of attrition, overheads, etc and also will be sought after by prospective employees.

  3. One of the finest conclusions to an excellent article that I have seen in years – powerful, emotive, succinct!

    Perhaps the good Doctor could advise how it is that the AWU signed off on the Thiess Wheatstone Project Agreement 2012 which requires 28 days on 7 days off rosters, with no breaks in between?

    \”But better rosters and more sleep alone will not fix that\”…………

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