The Manager Poem: A Litany

Manager 1 be like:

            Let’s scorch the earth.
                             Oh, you haven’t received a contract yet?
                                           There are 4 types of casuals.

              Isn’t autumn beautiful—like deciduous trees you should
                          use up all your leave entitlements.

Manager 2 be like:

          We haven’t fired anyone. We just haven’t re-hired them.
                        Like cut Units of Study, they’re just resting.
                                       Why don’t you trust me?

          I was supposed to be in Switzerland this week
                        but the pandemic ruined my plans.
                                       It has affected us all!

Manager 3 be like:

          The problem with the numbers is that they are not,
                        um, equivalent full-time numbers,
                                       they’re warm body numbers.

          So, if you literally teach the piccolo for an hour a week,
                        you get counted as [pause]
                               a person.

Manager 4 be like:

          I run on 4 batteries. There’s a compartment
                     in the back of my neck. Each of the batteries
                               is a finger cut

          from each of the 4 types of casuals at the University.

Manager 1 be like:

          Pluto is not a planet. Wage theft does not exist.
                     You should only work the hours
                               you’re contracted to work, but

          you must reply to all emails within 24 hours.
                     You must complete these 10 new training modules now.
                               You must make yourself available

          for all 110 of your students, even though you don’t
                     have an office. And please, mark this 3000-word essay
                               in 90 seconds. And then mark another 109

          in 2 days. And please, just get involved in our corporate
                     wellness program if you cannot cope.

Manager 2 be like:

          I had to give my poodle anti-depressants.
                     I had my floating ribs removed so I could touch my toes
                               more easily. Really made a difference

          to my self-autonomy. I’m so much more flexible now,
                     in everything.

Manager 3 be like:

          It has been very difficult adjusting
                     the loan repayments on my investment properties.

Manager 4 be like:

          No, a cumulus cloud couldn’t possibly
                     weigh a million pounds but your heavy workloads
                               are in line with the Enterprise Agreement.

Manager 1 be like:

          Yes, I deserve this $50,000 bonus while 1,500 casuals
                     are left without work. I earn 100 times
                               what a casual earns because I work 100 times

          harder. In any event we must now consider
                     cutting 30% of each permanent worker’s body parts off.
                               We’ll start with their eyes!

Manager 2 be like:

          Our inflated projections were wrong.
                     Student revenue is actually, to our great surprise,
                               on the increase! But we must still

          ‘restructure’. We must increase class sizes. We must
                     still ask you to make yourself redundant.
                               Why don’t you trust me?

Manager 3 be like:

          As with the supply of casual labour, honey never expires.
                     Pandemic time is a pretzel.
                                   Work from home, work wherever,

          whenever it suits you. There is no such thing
                     as spare time!

Manager 4 be like:

          OWN IT ALL, like in Monopoly.

Manager 1 be like:

          At the beginning of time there were no contracts anyway,
                     and sharks predate trees. But after God
                               created Adam and Eve,

          He created piecemeal contracts.

Manager 2 be like:

          [after a long silence] Cops are allowed on campus,
                     even riot cops, and there’s nothing we can do about it
                               if they get violent

          or misapply the law themselves.

Manager 3 be like:

          Freedom of speech is part of our University operations,
                     but not for students who want to protest.
                               They risk going to jail.

Manager 4 be like:

          Go to jail! Go directly to jail. Do not pass the admin building.
                     Do not protest against the government
                               or job cuts. Do not collect JobSeeker or JobKeeper.

Manager 1 be like:

          We’re making you reapply for your job.
                     There are 24 of you but only 14 jobs now. You must
                               compete with each other for the scraps

          and your dignity.

Manager 2 be like:

          Blood used to make me queasy but now I suck
                    blood with impunity. You have to be a vampire
                              if you want to succeed as a manager.

Manager 3 be like:

          Look how proactive we are! We
                    have identified our own admin error
                              in underpaying casual professional staff over $9m

          and we are now self-auditing our own admin error!
                    Oh, isn’t spring beautiful—like plants,
                              casuals grow better when pruned back.

Manager 4 be like:

          We must talk about casual numbers
                    as full-time-equivalent numbers because if we don’t,
                              then the numbers of warm bodies

          get out of control and our austerity regime
                    ends up looking like a kill count.

Manager 1 be like:

          If you’re old, consider Voluntary Redundancy—
                    make way for our younger colleagues!

Manager 2 be like:

          Even though you work for us as an ongoing
                    and systemic casual
                              and are entitled under the EA to apply

          for conversion to a continuing position,
                    even though you are of great value to the Department,
                              even though student numbers are actually

          still going up despite the pandemic, even though
                    you clearly have a great publishing record and CV,
                              even though you’ve shown great

          loyalty to our institution working years as a casual
                    under wage theft conditions, and
                              even though we initially encouraged you to apply

          for this conversion, we will not support your application.

Manager 3 be like:

          Congratulations to us! We have 505
                    Voluntary Redundancy applications,
                               eclipsing all other universities for the most

          anywhere in the country. We have risen to the top
                    of the QS World Rankings
                              and can now lay claim to being

          the most toxic tertiary workplace in Australia.

Manager 4 be like:

          The reason we haven’t made a decision
                    on your application for conversion is because
                              we lost your application for 25 days.

Manager 1 be like:

          I’m sorry, we can’t make a decision
                    on your application even though 505 people want to
                              leave the University.

          We must learn to disagree well.

Manager 2 be like:

          There is no work for you now due to our traffic light policy,
                    which is not illegal despite the Union deeming it so.
                              The EA says ‘should’ not ‘must’.

          However, I would take seriously any suggestion
                    that you might share the insinuations that you made
                              in this email with others,

          and would appreciate some confirmation that you have not.
                    Kind regards.

Manager 3 be like:

          I apologise for the Kafkaesque nature of your
                    dealings with HR, that we lost your application,
                              it really was like something

          out of The Castle, and thank you for coming
                    to dispute our refusal of your application in my board room.
                              Black mirrors are so aesthetically pleasing.

          There are Indigenous artworks just upstairs,
                    inaccessible to the public.

Manager 4 be like:

          I hope you have a good weekend,
                    notwithstanding this not insignificant cloud
                              hovering over you.

Manager 1 be like:

          Casual work is only ever temporary.

Manager 2 be like:

          I am aware that there has been genuine exploration
                    of whether a workload could be derived
                              for you, on a continuing (or fixed term) basis,

          full time or fractional, having regard
                    to the future expectations of the academic work,
                              which involves irrelevant restructures

          that not even we can prove will happen.
                    In consideration of all the information
                              that has been provided to me,to give you a job

          would be unfair to other casuals.

Manager 3 be like:

          We need more new buildings anyway.
                    Raise student fees! We couldn’t possibly challenge
                              the government. Silence the students—

          get more cops on campus.

Manager 4 be like :

          Who needs Medical Sciences in a pandemic? Cut them.
                    Who needs numbers—cut the Maths Learning Centre!  
                              Cut the Learning Centre altogether!

          Our corporate diversity has already invaded the H.E. sector
                    so who needs an Indigenous Centre anymore? Cut!

Manager 1 be like:

          What of history, what of politics?
                    Cut Fascism and Anti-Fascism!

Manager 2 be like:

          Cut more casuals! Cut more jobs! Cut all their arms off!

Manager 3 be like:

          Let’s scorch the earth.

Manager 4 be like:

          Why don’t you trust me?

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