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.
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