Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Israel – CCLXVI. A Permanent Job (4 of 12)

The manager of Records, Ben Sasson (referred to as Ben thereafter), was as frustrated as the rest of the staff at Records.

I consider him as one of the most interesting and complex person I have met in my working life.

Despite his short stature, if you walked besides him, you could barely keep up with him.  He possessed a quick wit, and an ability to respond in kind.  He was not a patient man; perhaps he was at some point, but after managing Records for many years, not surprisingly, he became impatient.  He was a modest man, and didn’t lord over his employees.  If he had any free time, he didn’t mind sitting with you and helping you with your work; this was his opportunity to expand his knowledge.

Ben was Egyptian and, while he had many Egyptians on his staff, he never favored them; it’s what you can do and not who you are that counted in his eyes.  His spoke 4 languages fluently:  French, Arabic, Hebrew, and English.  His English was many notches above the English other Egyptians spoke; the thing I remember about him was how often he said, “Christ!”   (It took me decades before I allowed myself, when frustrated,  to take the name of the Lord in vain; but as we shall see, Ben can be excused if he swore so often).

He was caught between upper management and his own employees.

His superiors considered his whole department as carrying out a function that any sentient being can do; no education or skills were needed; an employee can be substituted at a moment`s notice; one of the executives even told him, “my cat can do the job!”  I don’t know if Ben “hissed” back, but his revenge was to tell the story to anyone who was willing to hear it.  And, for a while, this man had to tolerate gags, puns, and even pranks; all related to the feline species of course!

To his credit, Ben didn’t take anything lying down and he defended his department.  One of his stock responses was:  “Try to function one day without Records, or employ unskilled labor.”  The good news was that he reported directly to the controller, Mar (Mr.) A’tzmon; and A’tzmon supported him all the way, and sincerely appreciated the difficulties encountered, and the required talents.  And it is this support that allowed Ben to stand his ground.

His staff continually harassed him; they felt that advancement opportunities were limited at Records, and they were.

This was the situation:  You advanced when you got a better darga (grade or level).  Grades went from 12 to 9 with 12 being the lowest.  You got promoted based on experience acquired and performance.  So far so good, except that shortly after joining the department an individual expected to get darga 11.  But that was the least of Ben`s problems; when an employee got to 9, he was stuck!  And this created endless morale issues for management.  In time, Ben convinced the power that be to create a new darga, and level 8 was born!  Did peace reign in the land thereafter?  For a short while only!  How do you think the matter ended?  A darga 7 was created, this despite the fact that management swore up and down that there was no way to justify it.  The remaining question was whether Records’ workforce was now happy?  Happy is perhaps not the word, but we did appreciate that you get paid based on the complexity of the job and the responsibilities that came with it.

When Ben presented our case, he used an argument that every union and labor lawyer should remember:  Boredom should be factored in when determining pay scale!

Now management was continually saying that we performed a simple and repetitive task.  That meant that the work was boring; if there was agreement on that, shouldn’t Records’ staff be compensated for their willingness to perform such mind-numbing, but critical, work? And wouldn’t it be grossly unfair to pay a high salary to an employee whose work was captivating?  Put another way, the fact that the job was dreary should be taken into consideration when determining the pay scale.

When I left IAI, I held a supervisory position and my grade was 8.

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