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Dictators and the horror they cause are not to be belittled, yet there is more than one way a dictatorship can be fostered.  An Oligarchy is defined by Wikipedia as: “a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people.”

In business such a structure can breach all the rules and regulations the workplace has in place and destroy the lives of these who are not part of the “power structure”. There is a well-known business in Queensland which is run by such a tyrannical Oligarchy, ruining many of the lives of those who work there, simply because they can. To make matters even more putrid, the Union, our esteemed Labor Union, is incapable of effectively doing anything to help these people or stop the dictators. Are we Labor supporters??

How do I know? I have an inside source. Someone who is being systematically torn asunder by underhanded tactics after over a decade of loyal service. They are not protected by any fair or reasonable working regulations since the company will not employ permanent staff, and casuals have no rights. That’s correct, casual staff have no rights in this business. Despite working through a twenty-four hour shift rotation, accepting any ‘shit’ shifts the permanent admin staff don’t want to do, especially at Christmas, if the hierarchy decide they want to ‘get rid of’ a staff member they simply cut their hours or make their working life such a traumatic and unpleasant experience, that eventually they break and leave. No annual leave, or other entitlements to pay, the company can do as they like. When was the last time you went without a family Christmas for ten years?

We’ve come a long way in our working democracy haven’t we?

Here is a scenario. Young worker, employed part-time as they work through University. Slowly working through the quagmire of late shifts, abuse from drunks, rarely enough staff, and let’s not forget the floods in recent years –  management didn’t go to work during the floods, even though the building was partially under water, however, the part-time, junior staff, all on casual pay, were pressured to go to work because…… the cars were running. (That’s a hint). I heard a story of staff being ferried by tinny to the work premises because of the flood water.

If the staff show promise they are given extra work, more involved duties, but no extra pay. Oh No, couldn’t do that, and despite a relatively long and very loyal tenure, no permanent position! (Ten years in one position is relatively long these days). Stress and pressure can effect anyone, at any time. Add a couple of deaths in the family, long hours of study and increasing pressure from work…. is it so far-fetched that the strain could become too much?

So, despite doing what is in effect two people’s work, this person is still a casual and is slowly breaking after a decade without a break. (Don’t forget, no holiday pay or sick pay for casual staff). On asking for an assistant, which the Union, (God Bless their cotton socks) has said is required, their hours are cut to ease the stress. They still have to complete the same amount of work in less time. Let’s try a repeat request a few months later…. more hours lost and the same amount of work.

Is this what we’ve come down to? If a company can ignore the Union, and every other Government Department (and I’m not a Union fan) and treat our workers like third world country employees, what the hell was all the struggle for when Unionism was born?

The Oligarchy, in their ultimate bastardry, decide to put on a new staff member, someone who happens to be a friend of one of the permanent Admin staff. This is code for, “it doesn’t matter how bad they are, they have a job for life.” The existing staff have no voice and less respect from management.

Now the scene has changed. The stressed and loyal employee has to train the very person who will eventually force them out of their job, and all with the connivance and approval of the dictator at the top (Mr P.). Is this going to reduce the stress this person is enduring?  No.  They are reduced to surviving on anxiety relievers, until they can find another job… if they can in today’s market.

Is being made a nervous wreck allowed in today’s marketplace? Apparently so, because there is nothing any regulatory body can do to this company.  It’s a private company, a ‘family’ business.

Can this person sue them for discrimination because they are ultimately being replaced, due to unrelieved stress, when they have trained this usurper? NO! They have no rights, at least not until they are unemployed and in a worse position than they are at present. Even at this point there is still no real pathway for redress.

To say I am disgusted with this story is an understatement. This company should have every department related to fair working conditions, Union bloody regulations and Anti Discrimination using hob nailed boots all over their collective heads and tails! Yet at present I am proscribed from going further until the final piece of this bastardry is complete. All  I will say is this. If you have a choice of transport when in need of a relief vehicle, think of two colours and not a cowardly one.

image from australia.shopsafe.com.au

Doing my part for unfair working conditions.

Ciao, Susan

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“The person who sends out positive thoughts activates the world around him positively and draws back to himself positive results.” Norman Vincent Peale

There is nothing quite like the knowledge that you have to undergo “a procedure”. It sounds like such an innocent little thing but it’s only when you get right down to the nitty-gritty that you find out what you’ve let yourself in for. So it is with me. I’m currently wondering if I am ready for later today.
worried lady

image courtesy of truthaboutwater.com
For more than a decade I’ve had a problem with my back and neck, courtesy of an insignificant little car accident! It  was quite silly really. We were stationary and the other vehicle simply T Boned us at a relatively slow speed. Nothing to worry about. Right?   I carefully checked everyone out. No broken  bones, no bruises and no blood!  Too simple. All we needed was to exchange details  and away we could go.
“car accident” courtesy of photobucket

There was however an itch on the back of my neck I simply couldn’t ignore. So as soon as we arrived home out came the trusty camera, the car was photographed from  stem to stern and we started to write down chronologically exactly what had happened.  By the time we had finished I had a rather nasty headache which I put down to delayed shock.   Mistake number one !  A couple of painkillers and a very hot bath later  I went to bed to sleep off the ‘headache’.

The next morning was something out of a cartoon show. There I was as stiff as a board and unable to get out of bed without help. I still had some misguided notion that I could go to work and so, another very hot shower later I had to acknowledge that it simply wasn’t going to go my way! I called the closest doctor (mistake number two) and drove to see him.  (mistake number three).  A pattern was emerging but I was too sore to realize this and was still hanging onto some vague notion that I was going to be able to go to work! It was a simple whiplash and I was assured that a couple of days bed rest with the trusty  Valium and I would be fit and raring to go again. (mistake number four).
woman in pain
I could still only move around with a great deal of pain but I was prepared to give it a go. (number five and counting).  There followed two years of infighting with my employer who didn’t want me on Work Cover. I didn’t want to be on it either but that didn’t appear to register.  The number of mistakes by this time were too numerous to count. Eventually  I lost my job under a beautiful little loophole in the Industrial Relations Act and found myself unable to get a job since my neck and back has been well and truly ‘wrecked’ beyond belief  and much of the time I staggered around unable to ‘tie my shoelaces unaided’!  The major irony according to the specialists, was that if I had been allowed to change my ‘duties’ after the accident I wouldn’t have the back problems I now have.  If I sound a little  bitter you would be right.  Was this a “life lesson?”

So here I am, trying to sleep, obviously ineffectively, waiting on the next procedure to get some pain relief.  I’m all booked in for a “medial branch block of the C3 – C 7” area of my neck. I’m still not sure if they chose my neck first because it hurts more than my back or if I’m just lucky!

It’s now much later in the day and the procedure went well, which is a gross understatement.  To say I was a little nervous would be making  light of things. The idea of all those needles in my neck was daunting but I was  desperate for some lasting relief. You get that way after a decade or so. Finally here I was in my little  paper gown waiting to go into the room where it would all happen!
cervical medial Cervical medial branch block

image courtesy of springerimages.com

It’s now much later in the day and the procedure went well, which is a gross understatement.  To say I was a little nervous would be making  light of things. The idea of all those needles in my neck was daunting but I was  desperate for some lasting relief. You get that way after a decade or so. Finally here I was in my little  paper gown waiting to go into the room where it would all happen!

I should add at this point that I haven’t been able to lay on my tummy for over a decade. I have had to succumb to sitting in a reclining position to sleep at night. This was a challenge as I had to lay face down for at least half an hour and be absolutely still. A huge challenge.  So there I was lying with my nose squished to the tiny pillow as the CT scan was used to find the correct places for the eight needles I required. Please note that was eight needles, big ones!

The first eight were the “small” injection of anaesthetic I needed to numb the upper layer of  tissue. The following eight were taken right into the neck and as close to the nerve as possible.  Very uncomfortable! Deep breathing and prayers were beginning to flow  at  this point. Fortunately the anaesthetic was very quick acting and I didn’t feel the ‘needles’ going in which would touch the nerves.

This is where things became very uncomfortable. It had taken much longer than the  half hour anticipated, in fact it was close to an hour. My back had long since decided to punish me for placing it in a position guaranteed to create pain. The agony from this reached from my tail bone, over my entire hip area and was closing fast on my shoulder blades. It was now a close race on which area would be number one in the agony stakes!

Then came the nerve ‘block’. A strange name for  something which a felt as though a red-hot poker was being jabbed into each nerve to see if it reacted strongly enough to the stimulus before the anaesthetic was administered.
one injection image courtesy of  metacafe.com

(picture this repeated four times on each side of the cervical bones).

When I was praying the loudest they decided they had found the best places. (You might substitute a strangled scream for the prayer!)  The relief to know it was over was immeasurable.  The fun, if you have a warped sense of humour, then began when I had to try to move. My back was frozen solid with the pain of laying absolutely still for well over an hour. My husband told me it was close to an hour and a half.

Sitting was hilarious. My sense of balance had gone completely, as had my hearing and my eyes refused to focus. I can’t really comment about my legs, they were there somewhere but we’re not functioning quite the way they should. However, the bright spot in this was that I couldn’t feel a thing in my neck so my thumping headache had gone. I guess I had a win there!
dizzy personimage courtesy of balancenadmobility.com
I’m now sitting in bed, still wobbly, still unfocused, at least somewhat, and praying I won’t lose too much hair when the dressings are  removed tomorrow.  I’m lucky I know. I’m much more fortunate than many, but at the back of this wooly brain is the thought that come Monday I have this same procedure lined up for my lower back.

This is part one, if successful the next phase is “ablation”, burning the nerves. I’m nervous and medical procedures don’t usually concern me overly much, not after all the research I do. Yet this does make me think. It’s much more painful for some time afterwards and there is too much to be done on the work front.  It’s a difficult decision to make; pain for some time versus freedom of movement, pain-free movement when it subsides. It’s not a cure-all, those wonderful nerves regrow so the entire thing has to be repeated in about a year – if you’re game that is.

As Charles Dickens said:
“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.

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