An elastic workforce can snap back.
Casual jobs are replacing full-time careers.
This is economically rational – especially in tricky times.
But casual labour has disadvantages too.
It may even kill platypuses.
When I got a card from my postie (mail delivery officer) I dismissed it as some boring union drama.
Then I saw a newspaper article about the casualisation of postal work.
This seemed sad, but I figured it was the way of the world (of which our postal service was streets ahead).
Then a second postie card came.
It listed the risks of going casual and asked me to write a letter if I agreed.
I did, so I did.
The move went ahead anyway and my regular postie vanished.
You’ve not mail!
Almost immediately, his postcard prophecies started coming true:
- Some letters addressed to me went to other people (who forwarded them).
- Other people’s letters came to me (so I returned the favour).
- Mail I was expecting turned up late.
I complained twice and things improved, but it wasn’t the same.
I missed my old postie, who knew me so well he could hand me my mail far from home.
Our stretched community spirit felt even thinner on the ground.
Unlike the rubber (elastic) bands.
Suddenly these red bands were everywhere. I couldn’t walk 50 paces without spotting one (the photo shows a handful of my growing collection).
I’d seen these bands holding groups of mail together.
My old postie always recycled his. I suspect the new casual posties may be flinging theirs to the four winds as they drop their bundles.
And when it rains, they hit the drains.
I’d heard that fauna and rubber bands don’t mix.
I’ve since read several articles about platypuses ingesting or swimming through them, with fatal consequences.
Last week, in my post office, I heard a heated exchange between a frustrated postmaster and a postie who evinced zero knowledge of or care for the residents of his round.
It all felt very wrong.
I see it’s a long bow to say casual posties kill critters.
But the rubber band explosion in my suburb dates from casualisation.
Are your posties casual?
Are your casuals postal?
Are their bands on the run?
This way up
As a full-time human resources manager, I used to sack people.
As a casual writer, I now pick rubber bands off the streets.
I may be crazy, but let’s check the rationalist record:
- Service (gas) station attendants.
- Tram conductors.
- Station masters.
- Bank tellers.
- Tea ladies.
Maybe platypuses aren’t the only vulnerable species.
Business is business. And running full-time staff can be a crippling pain in the bum.
But maybe we need to think outside the drop box.
When it comes to labour, how flexible are you?