Casual Tales

Being the factory supervisor of one of the smallest factory in WA has its perks. First and foremost, nobody likes coming into the factory or warehouse. It's too cold during Winter. It's too hot during Summer and FLIES are all around. It's too dusty during Autumn and Spring. And it's dirty all year round. It's just the way it is. Once you are sitting in the office, the site or factory always feel unpleasant. So office workers ends up easing back to their cosy corner as soon as they are finished with their businesses with me out here. Not a minute more, most to my delight. The previous office girl even ran off every time, either covering her ears or pinching her nose in her escape. I probably stink and speak rotten words of death at work without realising.

Being left alone with the workers meant the whole bloody factory is my office. And the boss really thought he has the biggest office in this company. Ha. Since there is no one working above me until someone in the office decided to roam out of their haven to the dangerous abyss, they normally call me a Factory Manager when they introduce me to walk-in or canvassed potential clients. In the outgoing docket form, they called me a QC manager. Recently I saw the office guy changed it to QC Inspector. When convenient, I am the fork lift driver, fixer, store man, worker, driver, shit picker. Otherwise known as Retriever Specialist, Contractor, Inventory Officer, Process Executive, Logistics Planner and Solutions Architect respectively in Singapore. I'm good I think.

Yeah, it pays nowhere as well as the previous job as the grinder, when I was raking in the projected A$89k per annum, including OT and night hours penalties, excluding tax. And it bores me. Any job bores me after I figured my way around doing things well. What has been keeping me in this job is that I have been meeting casual workers during their short stints with us when the Afghani workers return to their country for long holidays.

Every casual worker has a story to tell. You'll never know what you'll get. Drug addict, maniacs, lazy bums, smart alecs or very hardworking folks ... I haven't seen them all I think. This is probably due to the fact these casual workers have been surviving on casual jobs for years or even their entire lives. The unstable nature of their income and job sources probably shaped them to very resourceful, very street smart and knowledgeable people, though their appearance and communication level betrays them.

In the last month, I've learn a few interesting lessons from new casual workers. There was this Korean guy, with a pony tail, clad in youthful fashion and look every bit like your average K-pop star (but without the impressive plastic surgery). I had a very short interview with him because nobody else was around in the office. I did not accept him because his English competency was too weak to understand simple words. It would be really tough. Besides, the core reason was that he couldn't drive a fork lift. The office manager actually got him in and expect him to start work that day. I called him and asked how did he know the Korean. 

His answer was interesting.

The Korean actually came to the office sometime back and asked if there was any job openings. Of course, the answer was no but he dropped his resume and left. Though he didn't get the job, the key was he would have if he was a good fit. The lesson here would be, people remembers the face more than the name or anything on the resume. The Korean reminded me that we make our own luck.

The second casual was Indonesian and he was hired for a couple of weeks to tide us over the absence of the permanent worker due to a leg injury in his Saturday kick-about. Only that he was the kick-about that weekend, unfortunately. I had a conversation with the Indonesian about what have he been doing before joining us. He told me he was doing cleaning and earning quite well but he was apprehensive to continue because it was illegal. When I probed further he told me he actually ran the cleaning company but all his workers were illegal workers. So basically, he quoted low, pay low and pocket the difference. Quite substantial if you consider the cut was about A$10 per hour per worker per job. So just do your sums if how much he raked on an average 10pm - 5am job with 5 workers. A$10 x 7 hours x 5 workers = that night's takings. All in cash.

What interested me was a few points:

- He claims that there are thousands of illegal immigrants in WA who have been around for years. He can always find them for work if he needed any. Thousands? Living for years? No wonder one of my Malaysian friend spoke about "jumping the plane" some years back. You don't necessarily die doing so. Apparently, you may even flourish if you learn how to get around things.

- He got jobs because he walked straight up to business owners and told them he could he his job cheaper and better. Another case of making your own luck. But the reason why he could do it cheaper was that illegal workers did not cost as much as regular workers.

- This chap is telling me he will be taking a 1-week course in security. (Heh, the irony) and will look for security job. I raised my eyebrows. At the back of my mind I was thinking of SMRT (Security guard, Mc Donald's, Recycler and Taxi driver), the golden Big 4 jobs of The Forgottens of Singapore. We all have our chances of joining the prestigious Forgotten Club in our futures, don't worry. So this guy is actually so eager to join the Big 4 in Perth so early in his career life?

How wrong I was.

His friend was working 4 days on, 4 days off as a security officer in the airport. All, he claimed, they do was to "scan people" or "drive around". I questioned the income but the Indonesian, seeming anticipating the question, told be bluntly there are more hours that you can manage if you want to. I understood. It meant that these folks will work the same or more hours than a regular 5-day job in their 4-day work regime. So, resting 4 days instead of 2 days will be the cream of the job. As for the rate/hour, he said he would find out for me. He better.

Who knows that may actually be better than earning S$7,000 in Big 4 driving the cab around Singapore, picking bitches up.

1 comment:

  1. This reminds me of a bloke who is an expert in buying and selling good on gumtree. He reports to centrelink that he was jobless and gets allowances. In the mean time goes about his 'business' buying and selling stuff making close to 100k.

    A guy who has no job on centrelink driving a BMW M3? LEGEND!