Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sick day dilemma

DH has been struggling with an URTI for the last couple of weeks. The antibiotics are not working, and though she could go to work as she is not feverish, her body is crying "Please take me back to bed"

DH is reluctant to take a sickie. She likes her job, being assistant co-ordinator of a team which provides an important service to the public. Due to chronic under-staffing and under-resourcing in the Public Service, there is a lot of pressure on everyone in her team to do their jobs, and on her boss especially as he coordinates the whole shebang. DH considers him to be a hero, and hates to leave the team in the lurch. Nevertheless it is scandalous that our important services are being run on shoestrings. DH has worked in the past year at several government departments, a politician's electorate officer, and a university department, and its always the same story.

The reason none of these workplaces collapse is because everyone who works there is giving 150% of their time and energy, in overtime, in patience under extreme duress, even to the extent of dipping into their own pockets to pay for things like office supplies, phone calls, taxis etc.

There is, needless to say, no slack in the system for people to get sick.

DH gets paid by the hour. Given that she is on a subsistence income, she needs to think very carefully about whether she can afford to take a rest if she is not actually at death's door.

While temp rates are meant to yield a higher rate than permanent rates for the same job to cover the loss of sick pay, that is simply not true anymore, if it ever was. DH is still being paid $30 an hour as a project officer, same as she was 10 years ago.

Oh, except that last week she managed to extract a $5 an hour increase from her employer, who, due to chronic understaffing, insufficient funding for proper administrative backup, is dependant on her.

Under the circumstances, she has been slinking around ever since, feeling like a blackmailer, and wondering if she deserves it. (Another one of unspoken pressures of individual bargaining, btw). Not conducive to the feelings of high-self esteem that we know are necessary for a strong immune system.

In short, between the guilt of letting the team down, worry about how to pay for next week's bills with a loss of a day's wage, and what if she doesn't feel better tomorrow????? and the time taken for unburdening herself on this blog, which is a better and more healing outlet than lying in bed and weeping, it is now 10 oclock, DH has finally taken the decision to have a day off.

And so to bed...


Anonymous said...

right so you work in the public service, which is hopelessly understaffed and yet you have the temerity to whine about the government department that provides a roof over your head.

get a life you miserable cow

DH said...

Anonymous' comment has been a kick in the gut, or rather, udders for DH as it is not her intention to target public servants who do an incredible job with inadequate resources. See the entry on Aug 19, 2007 "Why this Houso Diary is past its use-by date" for a different view.

DH's target has primarily been the Howard Government which gutted this country's public service ethos and institutions, and along the way, ripped $3billion out of public housing Australia wide. In order to stay in power Howard and Co used the time honoured principle of "Divide and Rule", now known as "wedge politics/ the politics of resentment and downward envy". In the current climate of housing crisis, it may seem despicable to complain about public housing when private renters are doing it so tough, but it is not public housing tenants who have created the crisis. All renters should be speaking out. It would be a shame if public servants and workers on low to middle incomes, private and public tenants expended their rage on each other rather than on society's big time bludgers and spongers, rich tax cheats and greedy corporations, and their puppets in the Liberal Party, and their promotion of a mentality of artificial scarcity in one of the wealthiest countries on earth. At the same time, change doesn't come without information, and not all of us can convey information in the format of a dispassionate briefing paper. Some of us were just born to whine.

If Anonymous is monitoring these comments, DH looks forward to finding out more about the problems faced by DOH employees in delivering services, in what she has acknowledged must be an incredibly difficult job.