What former auto workers have to say about the loss of jobs
The world is constantly changing, and the loss of certain companies or industries is an aspect of the change. Change can be costly. The expense of people, and many are already at risk.
The tales of those who have been retrenched offer valuable insight into the complex and often traumatic effects of job losses. To better understand these stories, we spoke to 28 people who were laid off from the auto industry in South Australia and Victoria over the last five years in the context of an overall study concerning communities in need.
Our research paper, which was published in Regional Studies, Regional Science shows how economic disruptions disrupt career and life plans leaving people in new worlds of precarious jobs and interminable, long-distance travels to find security.
The tales of these workers aren’t unique and reflect the experience of many workers across Australia who have had to deal with the prospect of redundancy and retrenchment since businesses and industries have shut down.
Read more: What the departure of Toyota, Holden and Ford really means for workers
Bad jobs are easy to find
Since the retrenching process Many of our interviewees have had to struggle to find work that is secure and safe, as well as paying adequate pay.
Poor jobs with unfavorable hours and low wages can be found and many are forced to accept these positions. A lot of people are also shocked at the conditions they encounter in their new workplaces: unsafe standards of safety, toxic environments and dull and “disgusting” work. They have jobs as diverse as food processing cleaning, warehousing, cleaning production of grout and killing chickens.
Another person quit a position as a processor for a food company in just two days:
I was unable to do the job. It was completely horrible. It was extremely hot. They were rude to you.
People often quit their jobs fast or struggled to get through trying to find a new job. This led to a high degree of job instability when people jumped between multiple jobs, looking for a job they could endure for a long time.
Ex-automotive employees shared their experiences openly. Shutterstock
“It really, really scared me’
People who are at the bottom of the job market are often faced with difficult or demoralising processes for hiring for temporary positions with recruitment agencies. The workers think that they don’t have the money to make a choice:
In the case of labour hire, I simply agreed to all of it. This is the way it works you work on the job for labour hire. If you decide to say”no”, then you move to the bottom of your list.
Casual jobs can be used as an opportunity for a period of testing However, there aren’t guarantees:
I didn’t have a clear vision of the future. Yeah. So I’d continue to browse […] since I don’t imagine them taking me much beyond casual.
One employee who had faced poor employers told of the tough decision she had to make:
I’d like to quit the job and search for something permanent. But I’m not sure if I want to join a new work environment like the one at [company name] I really, really has scared me.
People want their former lives b
In a lot of established industries workers had a decent working conditions – usually during their long tenures in what they considered to be “jobs for life”. Loss of employment pushed them into a whole new realm of work that was precarious and very unlike what they’d experienced.