A Day In The Life Of A [Perfect Hire] Skilled Labourer
By Daniel Green
It’s 6.45 am on a cold winter morning in the Sydney CBD. As you approach the address in your allocation you notice the sky starting to lighten a little. Your brand new rail-spec Perfect shirt is a bit starchy but that is soon forgotten because you hear a quiet whistle.
You look around to find a giant Islander also in a rail-spec Perfect shirt – except his is nicely worn in. He grins and extends a hand. You shake, learning his name is Frank. The big man looks at your phone, ‘Did you do the Fit For Work Form in the Assignar app? It lets the guys in the office know that we are at work today.’ You yank out your phone and Frank takes you through it. Thirty seconds later you will finish it. You ask Frank how long he’s been here. ‘About six months,’ he replies, ‘You looking for long-term work?’ You nod your head. He grins again, ‘Then this is the place. I haven’t been out of work since I started with them a year ago.’ He leads you through the hoarding and into the old sandstone building.
Ten minutes and one site induction later Frank is introducing you to Chris the Rigger, Tim the Dogman, Joey in the tower crane, a pile of 450 x 150 I-Beams, and fifty boxes of grade 8 gal fasteners. The three of you spend the next hour installing steel beams for a future suspended slab. Tim and Joey set them in place while you and Chris are in the scissor bolting them in. Chris wields an almighty air gun and impact sockets while you are on a giant 32mm Sidchrome. You are about 80% through when Frank returns.
Chris lowers you down, you grab your hard hat and gear and follow Frank around the corner then up some stairs. He asks if you have ever used oxy. Two levels later the staircase opens up where a dozen columns have reo hanging out of them. Frank explains that the design changed and that they all need to be cut down. He hands you a flint, some gloves, and a helmet before disappearing. You set the pressure on both bottles and turn them on. Then you plant the helmet on your head, don your right glove, and fire up the acetylene. You add the oxy, set the mixture, slide on your left glove and get to cutting. One by one the hot blue flame turns steel to liquid.
Time to Rest!
A tap on your shoulder makes you turn and you see Frank behind you. It’s smoko time. Frank tells you that the office has been calling you. You pack up the oxy and head down to the street where a warm coffee and a pie sort you out. There’s a missed call on your phone so you return it – it’s Tim, the GM of Perfect Hire. He wants to know how the job is going and how you’re settling in. It seems odd because labour hire companies rarely do this but he’s a nice enough fella. After a few minutes of chatting he lets you go, so you chow down on your food, neck the coffee and head back inside the hoarding. Upon returning to the columns you find Frank has already cut the last few you didn’t get to. He tells you to grab your gear and follow him.
You are just happy with your new job so you grab your hard hat and PPE. Also, you follow Frank down to the basement where a little 6t open cab digger is doing some piercing. Frank introduces you to the operator, Michelle, before leaving. Michelle runs through the basics. Together you are about to pier twelve 3.0m x 600mm piers for some footings to be poured in a couple of days.
She shows you the surveyor’s centreline marks, hands you a long-handled shovel, and climbs back in the cab. Then she wings the auger over and with your shovel you guide it to the mark. She throttles up – the auger is soon buried in the shaft. She yanks it, shakes the spoil, and dismounts the machine to inspect. The hole isn’t vertical. She is annoyed, mostly at herself for not explaining it. She reiterates that because she can’t see the angle from the digger you have to be the one to make sure it cuts vertically. Now that you understand together you have another go. Much better. In the next hour and a half, you cut seven piers to depth. It turns out that even without any prior experience you’re not a bad civil T/A.
Lunchtime rolls around. Frank comes to find you to see how things are. That’s the second time someone has checked on you. Maybe that’s the way things are here. Frank is a good bloke and like a laugh, so thirty minutes pass pretty quickly.
The rest of the afternoon is jumping from trade to trade. You help the formwork chippies as a carpentry T/A, you erect ATF around the columns you oxy cut earlier, and you spend a few hours jackhammering sandstone so the plumbers can install a drain. You even help guide a hook truck into the basement so a skip can be swapped out. It’s a perfect truck, making you wonder how much more of this company is there?
The time passes pretty quickly – always the case when you’re busy. You even do an hour’s overtime. At 4.30 pm Frank comes to find you and takes you to the site office where he introduces you to the PM, CM, and OHS – John, Tony, and Lauren. Frank tells you to get out your timesheet – Tony signs both of them. As he signs Frank reminds you that it’s best to do your timesheet every afternoon so you don’t forget your hours. Tony agrees. You thank the office trio and leave. As you and Frank walk out he asks how your went today. You smile. You’re happy. He tells you to be here tomorrow and walks off towards the train station. You turn and head for the bus, a smile crossing your face.
Yeah. These Perfect blokes might be alright after all.