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Saturday 25 May 2019
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Letters to the Editor

Not all doom, gloom for contract workers

THE EDITOR: I looked at the tears of those two women in Saturday's Newsday, former Petrotrin temporary workers, and I felt for them. I know all too well what it’s like to be a contract worker and feel discarded after giving the best hours of your days for years. It’s like a bad break-up (note I didn’t say divorce because that would be how the employees feel).

Contract employment is the new normal. Generation X and millennials will hardly know permanent employment in the numbers that our parents and grandparents did.

This situation is not all doom and gloom. And contract work doesn’t equal a less meaningful or fulfilling career. Beyond the technical skills required for career selection, career development and management, contract workers need to acquire a set of emotional and psychological tools to cope.

Some of these so-called “soft skills” include an entrepreneurial mindset being able to see opportunities in the labour market and respond to them quickly, developing resilience to cope with loss and criticism of others (especially scrutiny of your CV by HR and interviewers and defending of your CV, choices and worth – trust me I know). Probably most importantly, you need to practise self-care and self-love in the face of rejection.

Below is a poem that has helped me and I hope all who need it, whether ex-Petrotrin or other contractors, will find strength and comfort in the words like I have. As you read it, hear the melody of Ariana Grande’s current smash hit thank u, next.

Contract work, like having experienced a string of failed romantic relationships, develops character in a way long-term "monogamous" relationships probably never can. Like Ariana sings about men, the multiple jobs have all taught me something – whether skills to sell and transfer to a subsequent employer or critically these failures at work teach me about myself: “One taught me love/ One taught me patience/ And one taught me pain/ Now I’m so amazing/ Say I’ve loved and I’ve lost/ But that’s not what I see/ So, look what I got/ Look what you taught me.”

After a while – Veronica A Shoffstall

After a while you learn

the subtle difference between

holding a hand and chaining a soul

and you learn

that love doesn’t mean leaning

and company doesn’t always mean security.

And you begin to learn

that kisses aren’t contracts

and presents aren’t promises

and you begin to accept your defeats

with your head up and your eyes ahead

with the grace of woman, not the grief of a child

and you learn

to build all your roads on today

because tomorrow’s ground is

too uncertain for plans

and futures have a way of falling down

in mid-flight.

After a while you learn

that even sunshine burns

if you get too much

so you plant your own garden

and decorate your own soul

instead of waiting for someone

to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure

you really are strong

you really do have worth

and you learn

and you learn

with every goodbye, you learn…


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