With the lift to level 3, businesses across the country have started to shift gears and prepare for an increase in customers. Students have experienced some turbulent issues with employment, with large subsections of our UOA population relying on casual and part-time hospitality and retail for their income. Others have been labelled as essential workers. A few recount their experiences.
I work in a retail store, so when the malls closed in Level 4, there was no more work for me since I can’t exactly sell shoes from home. My workplace applied for the wage subsidy and continued to keep us all updated every step of the way. I have a permanent full time contract and worked a decent amount of hours consistently so I knew I would be fine. A week or two goes by and my Aunty Cindy cheque comes through! Woohoo! Thank you summer hours! My management team and I continue to stay in touch. Now, in Level 3, I’ve been offered to work for a few hours to prepare to store when we go to Level 2. I’m excited to go back to work, but I’m curious to see how it’ll affect the customer service we usually provide. – Anon, Retail
Two weeks into lockdown, I was let go from my casual position in retail, via a very brief email from head office. I received a payout of about $25. It came as quite a shock as I didn’t even receive a notification from my store manager. I was basically just sent my last paycheck and told that was it. Luckily I’m also working two other jobs, and hours at that position were slim to none, but I worry about the other casual workers working in that company who might have had a bit more reliance on the weekly pay from that job. – Maddy, Retail
I felt really anxious going into the lockdown without a job because I knew it would be so difficult to find one in the aftermath, with so many people losing their jobs. I continued to look for jobs on Seek and Indeed, but during level 4, companies would email me back and say they weren’t hiring any more. In level 3 I’ve had two replies, one interview completed over Zoom and one scheduled for a 2 metre apart meeting. The Zoom one was good as the interviewer was so chill and I got to wear sweatpants. My in-person one is going to be weird. How do I show I’m professional without shaking hands? Elbow touch? Head nod? Curtsy? – Anon, Job Seeking
As pharmacies are essential services, I’ve been fortunate to be able to work throughout all of the pandemic. Donning gloves, sanitiser, and a face mask, we kept our doors open for the community. During the semester, I work between sixteen and twenty hours a week; however, during lockdown, I worked an average of thirty hours per week. I figured I was either at home, or at work, and I might as well be where I was needed.
The pre-lockdown panic was what made things the hardest. People rushed our doors as we moved to level four, and the line for the store was down the street and non-stop for the entire day. It was manic. And then, like a switch, level four began and things went back to normal — a steady stream of patients and prescriptions. During the lockdown, people appreciated having somewhere to go, a reason to leave the house, and a conversation with staff – even if it was from a metre away and muffled through face masks.
The commute has been one of my favourite parts of my day, driving twenty minutes on an empty motorway, having a reason to leave the house. Being able to work kept me sane, made the lockdown feel somewhat okay, and I’ve been very lucky to have been able to earn money. – Cameron, Pharmacy
My work was shut before lockdown because it was one of the Auckland City council pool/gyms. At that stage, we were meant to use leave until we ran out to get money. Then the lockdown started, and we got the government wage subsidy. Since then we’ve been told we are reopening in level 2. I am a very, very, very long drive away from Auckland, but I don’t want to drive back in the middle of the semester. That’s very stressful and time-consuming. I also want to be with my high-risk parents even though the risk of them catching anything is low. I have to drive back because I need my car up there. So after the wage subsidy runs out, I won’t be paid until I get shifts again when I get to Auckland. – Anon, Health and Fitness
I was made redundant. I work at a library, and they are shortening their hours. Classic, right? I really loved my job. I also need money to live. – Anon, Library
Working in our actual houses, as opposed to working in our AUSA house, hasn’t been all bad. While we don’t have shads next door to serve up a fresh jug or easy access to Munchy Mart, or the adrenaline hit from crossing the road at the Symonds street lights, or that nice pasta place, I can show up to my 9 am virtual Education committee meeting in my PJs.
Despite that long list of things I’m missing out on, adjusting to the work from home lifestyle has actually been alright. The meetings, committees and working groups I attended before in person are now online via zoom usually while still in bed, or the entire meeting is rightly turned into an email. Apart from a few wifi mishaps and unfortunate zoom backgrounds, it’s all good. What’s more, is that I can feel less bad about skipping lectures than I usually would because they are already all online.
Nobody asked me to rate it, but I’d give working from home a generous but average 4.5/10. I miss shads, my friends, the view from my office of people smoking in front of the “no smoking sign” and the causal yarns that are somehow not awkward IRL as opposed to on zoom. But also 4/10 because I now have more time on my hands without the commute into uni to read Craccum entirely (not just the horoscopes), start my TikTok career and work out how much money I have saved by not frequenting Strata and share. – Emma, AUA EVP
I have no work in level 4, but I will be returning. Once we’re back, we’ll be distancing in the kitchen and contactless with customers. – Anon, Hospitality
Work is closed for level 4 and level 3, so I am getting paid 80% of my average hours that I’ve worked in the time I’ve been there. I’ll be able to return at level 2, they’ve made rosters, but I have fewer hours than agreed to due to the decrease in demand we will have. There will be increased safety and distancing measures, less staff on each shift, less contact with customers and so on. It’s stressful as I kind of need the money that came with the hours agreed on my contract, but with everyone getting fewer hours it might be hard. – Anon, Unknown
Surprisingly. Work became a ‘get out of jail free’ pass. Excitement would build knowing that I get to have a legal dose of social face-to-face interaction with outsiders- finally new conversations with new faces! And GOD, it was nice to have a chat with people without the ‘c word’ popping into conversation. Work became that snippet of the day where I could put a pause on the outside world. I did not feel like I was that ‘essential’ especially to that of the Doctors & Nurses. But I do believe that I could brighten a patient’s day just by simply being kind, and being a ‘friend’ during their visit to the A&E.- Tayla, Medical Centre
I’m now working from home, which is great that I still have a job but I’m feeling like my boss has been more demanding on my workload and trying to get me to work more than I can. At this point, we’re not back in the office yet, but I almost don’t see a reason to go back and add that travel time in as I can do everything fine from home.- Anon, Unknown