Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Something special

This is a followup to my angry post a few days ago about the part-time teacher who was asked to resign when she suddenly became very ill.

Our union chair had a meeting with the head of personnel yesterday, and was all fired up ready to fight for a fair deal for our sick colleague.

The union chair didn't get a word in edgeways, however. Before she could even speak the head of personnel was falling all over himself apologising. (Moshiwakegozaimasen!)

Our colleague will not lose her job. They will not ask her to resign, and they will not stop paying her, even for the days she is not working. He said the letter should never have been sent. He told our union chair, without prompting, that OF COURSE it was against the contract - look at article six! (he stabbed the paper with his finger) and he was very upset that it had been sent at all. He didn't say who sent it, but it was clearly not him and he hadn't known about it. He was deeply sorry for the distress it must have caused our colleague and was shocked about her sudden illness. He knows her personally. He knows all the union members - all four of us (out of several dozen) who were not too scared to form the union - personally. We have always got on just fine, which is one reason why this whole thing was so startling and worrying. (In fact starting up this union branch was a really good thing to do if only because we got to meet the people at the top and establish a personal relationship, once the initial awkwardness had passed. We would never have met them, otherwise. It is the people lower down the totem pole who generally cause any problems, and without the union we do not get past them.) I would have expected this to happen at any other place I work, but not there. I thought we had a good working relationship.

The union chair got the impression (although this was not said, exactly) that somebody acted stupidly and independently, and will be feeling the flames of the personnel head's wrath. She thinks it was someone new at the top doing a new broom thing and trying to impress with penny-pinching. Perhaps someone was trying to take power from the personnel head. However, I suspect the boss of our own department, who is as stupid as you could get and cannot be counted on to support us for anything at all, of trying to assert power in his own little domain. (I have to admit that the main basis for my suspicion is that I find him personally creepy, which probably isn't very rational.) I don't know if we will ever find out.

Whatever, the result is far better than we expected. We did not expect they would pay our colleague for the classes she cannot teach, even though by law they are obliged to. We were not that optimistic. The best we had hoped for was that they would not force her to resign, and would only cut her pay for the time she was not teaching rather than for the vacation period as well - and we expected to have to fight for that much, given that they'd already sent the resignation letter to her to sign.

I am OVER THE MOON about this. I didn't know I was feeling so depressed by the whole thing, but I guess it had been bothering me a lot more than I thought, because when I heard this news last night it was like a great black cloud lifted. We all work hard, and it was upsetting to think that the moment something went wrong we'd be out on our arses, no warning, no thank you, no acknowledgment that we were more than bits of equipment whose time was up. I am reassured to know that the head of personnel went to the trouble to meet the union chair to apologize. He could have just relayed the message. Instead he personally acknowledged that the letter had caused distress and was a mistake, and wrong, took responsibility for it. He went to the trouble to meet the union chair to say so, adding that he was anxious that the message should get to our sick colleague (in hospital, resting after her operation) as soon as possible. He passed on his regards, and was visibly upset that such a thing had happened. In short, he was a gentleman.

This is enormously cheering.

It also makes me feel a lot better about working there. At the other places I work the pay is better, but at this place we have, in the past, been treated better in almost every other way. If my colleague had had to resign I would have wondered what I was doing there. That they are supporting her through her illness is really something special, especially here.

(Of course there is a cynical way of looking at how all this turned out, too, but please do not pop my bubbles by pointing them out to me. I know them already, thank you, and I do not believe that this man, at least, is insincere. In any case, sufficient unto the day and all that.)

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Megan said...

Oh what great news! I'm so happy it all has worked out and that the Personnel Dept. are not the devil incarnate. Yay for your friend! I wish her a speedy recovery.

Robert said...

I'm glad that, at least on the admin level, all is again right with the world. Now let's hope the doctors can offer similarly cheerful news.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad it all got sorted out so quickly and with such a great outcome. That much be a huge relief to know the university isn't totally filled with bastards who discard hard workers at the drop of a hat.


Cheryl said...

Brilliant! Hurray!
I am so glad for the happy ending :-)
Congrats all round.

landismom said...

Great news! congrats on your victory.

Mama Mouse said...

This has bothered me ever since I first read about it! I am thrilled for your friend and relieved for you that you don't have to be upset by it any longer!


Lippy said...

That's great news! What a relief all round. Hope your friend has come through the op well and here's to a speedy recovery.

tinyhands said...

Very glad it all worked out. Reading your stories about mismanagement, this guy sounds the most Western. (i.e. not-Japanese) Although that shouldn't really be a compliment, it appears to be in this case.

Badaunt said...

Thanks for all the well-wishes for my friend, and for the congratulations. It really feels like a victory, even though it might have been just a mistake. It is so good to know that someone with power is on our side - we hadn't been so mistaken when we thought he was a good person.

My friend is doing fine, as far as I know. I'm hoping to see her next week. So far the news is that she came through the operation well, and is resting, no visitors except family (by her own request). I expect that when that is lifted she will be inundated. A lot of people care about her, a lot.

Mary said...

congrats! when a colleague is treated badly, it does lower your morale. I'm glad it worked out in the end.

Andrea said...

That is good news.
I do relate to your last paragraph.
I have friends who get paid much more at other jobs but their bosses are shaddy. I love my boss because they do EVERYTHING by the book and totally legal. You know exactly where you stand. They are excellent. A good boss is almost better then good pay.