In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.
In my situation I would add a third thing. Redundancy. I am thinking this as I am now facing my third redundancy in my working life. I guess some have faced more (some of my colleagues had faced this situation only three years ago). But then I know lots of people who have been working in the same organisation for more than 20 years and never ever faced the R word I wonder “how have they done it?’
Redundancy comes in uninvited, suddenly and in this case unexpectedly. In the first case it was the election of the Jeff Kennett government that did me in when he decided to swathe through the Public Service with an axe in Genghis Khan fashion. I was fortunate to get a job community organisation work almost immediately afterwards. But ironically, where the first time I was made redundant by a Liberal government, this time it was (indirectly) the advent of a Labor government which was the cause of my demise. This community organisation, hostile to the Liberals was very close to the ALP, and this meant more funding which meant that they could pay more for someone much more experienced than me. So out I went.
So when in May we got the news that despite what we have been told just a few months earlier we were facing a staff downsizing/restructure/redundancy process I went ‘oh no, not again’. I must done something terrible in a work situation in a previous life. Maybe I was an evil boss who sacked lots of people and made them destitute.
The big difference this time is that when I was made redundant before, in both of those cases while unpleasant (especially in the first one where I was ‘targeted’ and I was the only one laid off in my team) I already made up my mind that I wanted to change my career and become a librarian. Just that the decision to leave was not mine and earlier than I would have liked.
Getting a job at a university was such a godsend. It was a fairly basic job. Copy cataloguing in what it was termed as the ‘technical’ section. Which meant working as a library tecnician downoading records, printing and sticking barcodes and labels on the books etc. it was not an onerous job. But I was working in my preferred academic library, and it was a start. But it meant even more because after the storms I experienced in the previous years it was such a great feeling finding a steady job, a desk to go to in the morning, having a role, working amongst other people. I didn’t care that I was at the ‘bottom of the ladder’ I had a job in the library. And that was enough for me. Eventually I after a few tries and knock-backs I got the job I wanted after nine years of working there. And here I am after five years facing losing it. I guess I have to be philosophical. There are lots of people in the world that never had a chance to work in their ‘ideal job’. At least I had that experience, even if it represents only 17.2% of my total working life.
I felt that my employer was quite a good one. Some of my colleagues didn’t agree with me, but I guess after working in the public service with Jeff Kennett as Genghis Khan if felt quite nice. But in the back of my mind I knew it couldn’t last. Eventually the R word would catch up with me again. I knew that it happened to other sections where I worked so it could happen to me, and it has. The brutal reality of corporate economics means that positions have to cut back. No more Mr. Nice Guy.
This job that I love didn’t just fell on my lap. I had to go and get it. And now as I submit my CV again and hope I do well in an interview I am thinking…this is the third time I have to apply for it, and I may lose it. A job that I thought I did well (well…my boss was satisfied)
But then I think whether any organisation can give anyone a guarantee of a job. Ultimately the organisation has a number of roles they think they need. They fill those roles with the best person they find. But it can be argued that if the organisation feels that the role doesn’t match their purpose no longer whether they have the right to terminate that role. It is a contract between a provider of work and someone who fulfill the task that the organisation feels it needs. The problem is that the employee is at the mercy of the employer. Many times, to soften the blow, we’ve been told that it is not the person that gets redundant, it is the position. Still, this is meager consolation if you finish unemployed. Especially at my age. A job is not just a job. Especially if it interest you it becomes a really meaningful part of your life. It becomes a place where doing well can give you acknowledgment. It is something that gives you a sense of identity.
Now that’s gone. So here I go again. Putting my best foot forward. Convincing others that I can do the job. I feel so tired. But I have no other options.