A project manager mate of mine arrived at his site office last Friday. He was greeted with the normal scene: union delegates arguing about subcontractors having the audacity to employ people who are not 100% unionised; subcontractors with not enough resources; and emails from the client’s representative refusing perfectly valid variations. He had made a decision which would upset head office and may make him a pariah as far as future promotion was concerned. He was taking Saturday off to have a full weekend with his wife.
Although his annual salary far exceeds the “average Australian” if it is divided by the number of hours he works, his hourly rate is less than a site labourer. But he has a passion for construction. That passion cost him his first marriage, drove him to the occasional drink, and evolved him into a dad his children did not know or particularly like. But his passion was a major factor in driving him to deliver project after project for his employer.
As Friday wore on, and the normal dramas of the day were crossed off the to do list, he decided it was time for his daily “walk about. However, as he reached for his hard hat, he received a text from his operations manager. Not a personal visit or a phone call, just a text which read verbatim: “Company ceased trading, get everyone off site, lock the gates, take only personal belongings report to head office immediately”. Yes the company had gone broke.
This has happened to many of us in the construction industry, we end up with broken relationships, heart attacks through stress, and the stigma that goes with having been the PM on “that job, for “that mob” who screwed their subcontractors. Sometimes the bloke delivering the project gets screwed as well.
Now he has to wait and see if he will get his entitlements, find a job, and still keep his passion for his next employer. His comment to me “Well at least I have finished paying child support, I think it is time for a spot of fishing”
So if you are reading this mate, go easy on the Johnny Walker, enjoy the fishing and it may be a good idea to take your wife with you or you might get made redundant there as well, then you will be looking for wife number 3.
by Gerry Keating