Photo by Orin Zebest
Yesterday I witnessed some of my work friends get fired. They were on contract. Temp staff. Like me. And they were dispensable. Some had been there five months. Others only three.
They knew that they were on a temp assignment only. That the contract was not a permanent position. They also knew that there were limited permanent positions available for the right temp to transition to being a permanent employee. Each and every one of those people received an application for a permanent position within the company. Each and every person completed the required medical exams. Filled out police checks.
But all of them failed to pass for some reason or other. And yesterday afternoon, in the middle of taking a customers call, I saw them in tears, hugging those they befriended (I managed to squeeze a hug and an “I’ll call you later”) as they were escorted out of the building.
As far as I knew, there were no issues in their performance, productivity or attendance. And although we knew we were temps and on contract work, we thought that we would miraculously sail by unaffected, get treated like permanent staff and get paid a higher hourly rate.
And we look at it as though it was callous and that it could have been prevented. But you know what? That’s business. And I doubt that the HR department made the decisions without consultation from the relevant managers in the areas. I’m not sure if the floor supervisors knew, but if they did, I wouldn’t be surprised.
I was a supervisor in an organisation once upon a time too and I remember how it felt to be worked like a puppet. You’re in the middle, trying to keep your staff happy, keep them motivated. But you also get privy to the changes in the business before they happen. Like insider trading. You have the knowledge before its affected the masses.
Now I’m not saying that its wrong to end a contract of a temp staff member. After all, we knew at some point this would happen and as I said earlier, that’s business. It’s just a shame that it happened in that way. Out of the blue, unexpected, with little time for the parties involved to prepare. And of course the usual human emotions come in to play – shock, anger and sadness.
And although we can’t change what happened, we as a people can look at it in a different perspective. I for one don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think it’s a blessing in disguise and I’m sure that this fiasco will help them to find a job that they’re really passionate about and a company more aligned with their values. And that’s not such a bad lesson to learn.