What’s It Like Working as a Labour Hire Chippy?

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Chippy Carpenter - Perfect Hire

by Daniel Green

Recently I was on site as a T/A with one of our labour hire Chippies, Will. We were building a set of temporary steps to be used in a disused shower block slated for demolition. For a good four hours we measured, cut, built, test fit, modified and rebuilt the thing until it was complete and installed. Which means I got to know Will pretty well and as an exercise in curiosity I probed him on what it was like to work as a labour hire chippy.

Like anything in life there’s upsides and downsides, but in Will’s opinion there was more up than down. A lot more.

The Pros.

Pandemic Survival Level 10.

Whilst he’d been with us since before COVID, Will admitted that without Perfect Hire he would not have survived the last 18 months. Originally hailing from County Mayo in sunny Ireland, Will couldn’t travel home for fear of being locked out of Oz forever. He continued that even though things had slowed, even though getting to work had become extremely difficult, even though the rules continually changed – Perfect had done their best to keep him employed throughout the #last18monthsofhell. Sure, at times he was forced to do some labouring but he knew how hard Perfect Hire GM Tim Fitzgibbon had worked to keep him going when there were blokes stacked ten deep at the door.

Every Day/Week/Month is Different.

Will recalled building houses in Ireland and how he would frame up for weeks on end. By the time he’d finished one house there were another ten waiting for him and while he was grateful for the work, variety is the spice of life and there were days where he wished for the variation that he now gets from labour hire. Will’s schedule varies, but generally he’ll spend a couple of weeks at a job before moving onto the next one, meaning he can have a good few weeks work, maybe a day for two off [which suits him down to the ground] and then another few weeks somewhere new.

You Revive Old Skill Sets and Learn New Ones.

Even though Will’s technically a framer, in a pinch he’s been called on to do fit-out work. With an eye for details it turns out he’s good at it too, meaning that at a couple of framing jobs we sent him out to they kept him on afterwards for the detail work. From this he netted an extra few weeks at the same jobs. And because Tim always completes a client follow up call to see how things are going, now the Perfect Hire management team knows that Will can be sent out to fit out jobs.

Perfect Pays.

Clearly a big plus. Will told me that out of all the places he’s worked, labour hire or not, Perfect pays the best out of them all. Not only is it on time every time, not only is it 98% accurate, not only are all the allowances paid in full – on the rare occasions there’s been an error he can have a calm, rational conversation about it and if he’s in the right then things are squared away the same day. Perfect has this system whereby they send out payslips two days before payment so that workers have a chance to check for errors.

Roadmapped.

Coming from the tiny village of Cushlough [we think it’s pronounced Coosh-low but we’re not sure] meant that Will had no idea about the layout disjointed sprawl that makes up the great city of Sydney. So while the first few weeks and months required a bit more preparation than usual, Will was grateful to be getting his bearings. Now he’s got more orientation than some locals!

Meet New Clients.

Will’s exposure to clientele was about twenty times what it would be working for one business, and because he’s so good at what he does and is just a genuinely nice guy, he accidentally networked the heck out of himself. Good labour hire workers [especially tradies] are always requested and Will is no exception. He’s never short of work because he has met so many people – and has left a lasting impression on them.

Doing the Thang.

The last advantage that Will told me was brutally honest. It’s about the trend for tradies new to town [or returning to the workforce] to register with labour hires only until they get back on their feet. As sad as it makes us to be ‘utilised’ in this way, unfortunately it’s just a part of the game – we ought not hate the players. And while a small piece of our labour hire hearts break when this happens [or when good tradesmen and -women move onto greener pastures] for the interim those qualified professionals are working. They’ve got momentum, they’re moving forward. Maybe about hire isn’t for them. But they’re on their way.

The Cons.

It wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops for young Will. There were a couple of details that he would trade if he could.

Every Day/Week/Month is Different.

Sometimes too much variation is frustrating. Like how it seems Apple changes their iPhone functionality every second day. LEAVE IT ALONE JOBS, IT’S WORKING. Sometimes you just want something predictable. Sometimes you just want to go to your job and not have to think about everything so dang much. At times, labour hire can be like that.

Varied Travel.

Will’s knowledge of Sydney was a bit of a baptism by fire. Checking travel times in the evening before work is wise, but ultimately that will change when you check again in the morning. The same as your chosen route, parking availability, if there’s a nearby train station. Will found that you have to be on the ball if you’re planning on arriving to work on time.

The End.

With far more Pros than Cons, Will felt that labour hire was for him. Yes there were a couple of disadvantages that bugged him from time to time. But overall he liked the variance of work & locations as well as the way he was treated & paid by Perfect Hire. I guess that’s why after 2 years he’s still with us.

If you’re reading this Will, keep up the great work! See you on the next one!

Will Got It Done.