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Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Time to go

Since I returned to work yesterday, it has become apparent that very little, if anything has changed. I have only managed to get them to concede on one point, and I suspect that that is only because they realised that if they didn't I would sue them!

The last time I experienced problems of this nature at work I was working for a major supermarket - where take it from me, life did not taste better for the staff ... There were a lot of reasons why I had to leave - boredom, lack of promotional prospects, loss of creativity, scan and pack, but most of all the abysmal way in which the staff were treated by the company in general, and also by the customers, with no comeback, since to do so was treated as insubordination. I tried to discuss these issues with the Store Manager and asked for a transfer to another department, but because my partner at that time was seriously ill, with severe weight loss and other problems, and I could not work unsocial hours, was told that I was being deliberately obstructive. It didn't matter that I had a very good reason that the Personnel Department were aware of. I ended up taking two weeks off sick there as well, and came back there to find that nothing had changed.

The last straw was being left on the check out for over an hour calling to say that I needed to go to the toilet. It gave a whole new meaning to the term pissed off, I can tell you. By the time I did get off the till, I didn't care that it was 4.55 on a busy Thursday afternoon (or whatever day it was, I can't remember, and it doesn't really matter). I exploded with rage and told them exactly what I thought. I then marched upstairs (by then it was time to go home anyway) and into the ladies where I burst into a flood of tears. One week later I handed in my notice.

Company procedures stated that you had to have two separate interviews, which says a lot about the company - one to find out why you were leaving, and then an exit interview when you finally did leave. I was looking forward to these as a chance to vent my spleen and tell them a few home truths, truths that I had not been able to express to my Manager, who was too busy managing the 200 odd cashiers (not her fault I hasten to add, as like the rest of us, she was over worked and underpaid.) I always had a grudging respect for her, as she had worked her way up from the bottom, as a single parent, and had started off a cashier herself.

But I digress. Because I was denied these opportunities and the company chose to ignore their own procedures, it left me so I thought, with only one choice; to write a long letter detailing everything that was wrong with both the job and the company. This letter was sent to three people - my own Manager, the Store Manager and the Chairman. Desperate times lead to desperate measures.

I do not know what the response was or what they thought about it all, as I never did hear back from them, but when I re-applied a year or so later to work in a different department in a different branch, my application was rejected. When I had a reading and asked the reader what the reason was, I was told that it was because of this letter that I had written, and that I had been "black marked". I cannot go back now even if I did want to, which lately, I have been tempted by. That shows me just how bad things have got.

Bearing all of this in mind, and how I tend to clam up at meetings and not say what I wanted to, on Sunday evening, the night before I returned to work, I sat down and wrote a letter to my own boss detailing the points that I felt we needed to discuss. I was shocked when he tore them apart one by one and accused me of throwing everything that he has ever done for me back in his face.

It is true that he had worked two 50 hour weeks during my absence (his choice, as legally he didn't have to), with very little help from other stores, but that is not an excuse. I was shocked by his attitude and some of the things that were said, which really upset me.

The gist of it was that we were never categorically told that we would be closing, and all of my thoughts around this were and are based on little more than assumption. Well, yes they were based on assumption, the assumption that I was being told (by him and various others) was the truth. You do not expect your Manager to lie to you. I mean, what reason would there be?

When you are told that your company are a) closing stores that are not profitable, b) that your store is not profitable, c) that the lease expires in 2 months time, and d) that a named coffee chain are negotiating for the lease, and members of the public continually come in and ask when you are closing, what else are you supposed to think? Any reasonable person would jump to exactly the same conclusion that I and everyone else there did.

I then raised the point about our budgets being cut and having no money to take on extra staff . He tore that apart too, by saying that this is a company wide thing and we are not the only store affected. That may be true, but it does not make it alright and it does not make it acceptable that we have to struggle on in the way that we have done. It is whether he likes to admit it or not, exactly as I pointed out, namely that the combination of lack of communication and lack of staff is the direct cause of my sickness. If these issues are not addressed then there is a good chance that this will recur, with other staff affected as well as myself, and I include him in that.

I could go on going through the various other points, but well, there really is no point. It has become apparent that nothing has changed, and no matter what I say or do, nothing will. He is not prepared to push his own boss, as if he make too many waves then if he decides to stay, then it may make things awkward for him. At the end of the day, he is a married man with a young family, who even though he hates every single day that he spends there, needs a job. It is sad, but that is the situation, and there is not a lot I can do to change things. It is his choice to make, and so now I also have to make a choice, the choice to go.

My partner says that I should try and discuss this further and let him know how I feel, but since I have now apologised (it seemed like the right thing to do, since it cleared the air) I do not feel it is wise to re-open this can of worms, He has made his choice and there is nothing I do to change his mind. He has to come to the point himself where I am now at, where he no longer cares about what they may or may not do.

I feel sorry for him in a way, for he must feel that the rug has been pulled from under his feet. After our Assistant Manager left, I was the only one that remained, his only support mechanism, and it looks like I too am going. He is angry and feels that he is being attacked. When people get like this, they respond in the only way that they can, by atacking back. It is though very much a case of crossed wires and non communication, but also mixed messages. In one breath he tells me that I am wrong to feel the way that I do, and it all in my head, and in the next one he is saying that the way the company have handled this is atrocious! I thought it was women that could not make up their minds, and men were supposed to be strong and decisive!

In life it always boils down to two different options - put up with it or go. I choose to go. It the only thing I can do.

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