Calling from the factory floor

Greg is bulgarian  and has been living in Manchester for 3 years, he followed his older brothers and a sister who had moved to the UK in the late nineties.

He recently moved into a flat with his girlfriend who also comes from Bulgaria. They are both in their early twenties, very much in love and wanting to be married in a year or two.

Greg works in a packaging and logistic company and he is in the packaging section. He works night shifts from 8 in the evening to about 5 in the morning, his girlfriend works during the day so there aren’t that many hours of overlap in their day.  The job is very repetitive but he is been doing it for nearly two years and knows most people in the plant and feels there is a certain advantage in being well acquainted with the supervisors and managers. His job consists in preparing boxes for clients of material that he has to find and organise. He must collect racks of material, look at the order forms, prepare and then label the boxes.  The people around him in the big plant floor are doing the same. Supervisors monitor the work, hand out the orders and solve any queries.

The company has rules about phoning during work time but nobody seems to follow them apart from the newcomers, and most workers find ways to make a few calls during their shifts. The main processing floor where the employees sit at tables working on their boxes, has videosurveillance and therefore everyone avoids making calls from there. However, as soon as they get up to go to pick up some material in other rooms they pull out their mobile phones. Usually the other deposit areas have no video and they manage to have a few minutes for a call. Another solution is to call on the way to the toilet.

Greg thinks he makes about 2 or 3 calls per evening, obviously he says he is limited by the fact that there are not many people you can call after midnight… Generally he calls his girlfriend once or twice before she goes to bed and his brother once. His calls are never long, probably a couple of minutes. Other people sometimes call for longer, and although the majority of the employees are women he says that it is the men that he most often seen speaking on the phone. In general everyone prefers calling than texting because they are wearing gloves. Some people have bought a Bluetooth headset and they cover their heads with their overalls so as not to be noticed and therefore manage to speak a bit longer. Greg thinks that the fact they are working at night makes it all more possible, because the supervisors are in their offices and there are no managers and bosses around.

He is not sure if the workers on day shifts get away with the calls, like they do. He recalls another company he worked for which was smaller and run by a very authoritarian boss. There it was strictly forbidden to make any calls at all and anyone caught sending an SMS or using his cellphone was dismissed immediately.

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