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Are working conditions for 'professional' jobs getting worse?


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For context, when I say professional job I'm generally talking about skilled work done for a private company.

I am not referring to the public sector, nor am I referring to low-paid private sector work with set hours, like stacking shevels in Tesco or serving coffee at a coffee shop.

I spoke to several friends, both individually and as part of a group chat at the end of last week and the stories shared really got me thinking:

- One software engineer, paid well by NI standards but frequently working weeks of 12 hour days, had clocked almost 60 hours that week and had a call out a 2 in the morning.

- Civil engineer, the job always seemed like hell as long as I've known him, been working his arse off the last month and was doing unpaid overtime over the weekend to keep on top of stuff for £36K a year. Apparently the next level up from him, who will be on more but not a fortune, frequently work past dinner time and into the evening.

- My old place of work that I thankfully got out of 8 years ago continues to be hyper stressful, chronically under-staffed, and a couple of the people I used to know have had to get sick notes from the doc because they basically had meltdowns from the stress.

It seems to be that the private sector seems more hell bent than ever on treating it's employees like shit, or rather as badly as they'll let themselves be treated. Refusing to hire more people to cope with the workload, squeezing every last bit of effort they can out of their people and handing them workloads that guarantee long working hours and unpaid overtime and paying as little as they can get away with.

Was it always like this, or is it getting worse?

I'm not getting a pay rise this year, which irritates me as I've out performed many in my organization that get more than me. My reward is getting a pay cut in real terms. But I can do my job for the most part without long hours, and with all the stories I'm hearing, inclusing someone I know at the one private company I think I'd be in with a chance of joining, once these folk hire you they treat you like a slave.

The civil engineer I know explained how his company is being more "agile" and is judging people by "results, not just hours spent in the office", but whilst that sounds ever so flexible and great, what he doesn't seem to have realized is that the effect of this for the workers is more hours in work for the same money. They're doing it for their benefit, not yours.

Edited by JoeDavola
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Its a massive problem now in the private sector,the difference to the public sector or benefits is incredible. Iv worked for two really blue chip employers in the last 12 months,both leaders in t

It's almost as if mass immigration from Europe has somehow held back salaries for british workers?

One of the benefits of lockdown for me has been not having to visit London clients in their miserable offices. They are cattle pens dressed up as primary schools, and their culture has been seeping ou

2 minutes ago, eek said:

Can't fault anything in that argument.

The only way to escape is to either sidestep it or get above it - neither of which makes things any easier. 

I guess what I'm saying is that if you can't join the public sector, is it getting increasingly difficult to earn a decent living doing a decent days work.

Perhaps the best thing to do these days is to become a skilled tradesperson rather than enter a corporate environment.

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Just now, Great Guy said:

It's almost as if mass immigration from Europe has somehow held back salaries for british workers?

I don't think this is an immigration thing. It might be a small part of it.

Maybe it's a more American working culture. Maybe it's just getting more difficult to turn a profit so companies are having to do more with less employees. Or maybe it's just increasing corporate greed.

Or all of the above.

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12 minutes ago, JoeDavola said:

For context, when I say professional job I'm generally talking about skilled work done for a private company.

I am not referring to the public sector, nor am I referring to low-paid private sector work with set hours, like stacking shevels in Tesco or serving coffee at a coffee shop.

I spoke to several friends, both individually and as part of a group chat at the end of last week and the stories shared really got me thinking:

- One software engineer, paid well by NI standards but frequently working weeks of 12 hour days, had clocked almost 60 hours that week and had a call out a 2 in the morning.

- Civil engineer, the job always seemed like hell as long as I've known him, been working his arse off the last month and was doing unpaid overtime over the weekend to keep on top of stuff for £36K a year. Apparently the next level up from him, who will be on more but not a fortune, frequently work past dinner time and into the evening.

- My old place of work that I thankfully got out of 8 years ago continues to be hyper stressful, chronically under-staffed, and a couple of the people I used to know have had to get sick notes from the doc because they basically had meltdowns from the stress.

It seems to be that the private sector seems more hell bent than ever on treating it's employees like shit, or rather as badly as they'll let themselves be treated. Refusing to hire more people to cope with the workload, squeezing every last bit of effort they can out of their people and handing them workloads that guarantee long working hours and unpaid overtime and paying as little as they can get away with.

Was it always like this, or is it getting worse?

I'm not getting a pay rise this year, which irritates me as I've out performed many in my organization that get more than me. My reward is getting a pay cut in real terms. But I can do my job for the most part without long hours, and with all the stories I'm hearing, inclusing someone I know at the one private company I think I'd be in with a chance of joining, once these folk hire you they treat you like a slave.

The civil engineer I know explained how his company is being more "agile" and is judging people by "results, not just hours spent in the office", but whilst that sounds ever so flexible and great, what he doesn't seem to have realized is that the effect of this for the workers is more hours in work for the same money. They're doing it for their benefit, not yours.

Yes being an employee sucks, especially in a professional role where they use the fact that you have professional pride, to finish the job. Look at the salaries too no over time and they are between 40 and 50K maybe 60K if you are lucky the majority of which goes in taxation. 

I decided enough was enough and set up on my own, overall I probably work more hours but the rewards are all mine. 

The only way to win is to not to play the game they want you to 

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3 minutes ago, ad_ceng said:

Yes being an employee sucks, especially in a professional role where they use the fact that you have professional pride, to finish the job. Look at the salaries too no over time and they are between 40 and 50K maybe 60K if you are lucky the majority of which goes in taxation. 

I decided enough was enough and set up on my own, overall I probably work more hours but the rewards are all mine. 

The only way to win is to not to play the game they want you to 

Yep - 40K-50K is basically the earning range for most of these high stress jobs. Getting to £60K is rare.

As I mentioned that Civil Engineer, after slaving away for 10 years in the industry is on £36K.

These aren't great wages considering what they're asking from you, and considering what a well positioned play of the benefits system is.

When my mates were all lamenting this last week I replied that the happiest bloke I know stacks shelves in Tesco and that's all he's done since he's 17. One of them (the 60 hour week-er) replied that he and his co-worker joke about being able to pack it all in and get a wee job serving coffee in Starbucks.

Edited by JoeDavola
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1 minute ago, Great Guy said:

I'm a civil engineer. I'd say salaries plateau at about £40k for most engineers. For that you're expected to put in unpaid overtime...

Yes this is the expereince of my CE mate.

I think to go over the £40K mark would be to move into a level of management where he'd be juggling so much and under so much stress that it wouldn't be worth it.

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4 minutes ago, JoeDavola said:

Yep - 40K-50K is basically the earning range for most of these high stress jobs. Getting to £60K is rare.

As I mentioned that Civil Engineer, after slaving away for 10 years in the industry is on £36K.

These aren't great wages considering what they're asking from you, and considering what a well positioned play of the benefits system is.

When my mates were all lamenting this last week I replied that the happiest bloke I know stacks shelves in Tesco and that's all he's done since he's 17. One of them (the 60 hour week-er) replied that he and his co-worker joke about being able to pack it all in and get a wee job serving coffee in Starbucks.

Civil engineering is terribly paid, I am electronic I think I was on 40K+ within 5 years of graduating in 2000. I set my own consultancy up in 2015 ish and have never looked back really. 

Benefits are a great game to play, only we all cannot play it as society collapses just like Soviet Russia

So many issue s come back to the fact we do not reward hard work and risk taking instead we reward bad life style choices 

 

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1 minute ago, JoeDavola said:

Yes this is the expereince of my CE mate.

I think to go over the £40K mark would be to move into a level of management where he'd be juggling so much and under so much stress that it wouldn't be worth it.

Yeah. I'm a single guy and tbh an extra £10k would make very little difference to  my life. Some of the guys in the office must put in an extra 10 hours plus a week.... 

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2 minutes ago, ad_ceng said:

Civil engineering is terribly paid, I am electronic I think I was on 40K+ within 5 years of graduating in 2000. I set my own consultancy up in 2015 ish and have never looked back really. 

Benefits are a great game to play, only we all cannot play it as society collapses just like Soviet Russia

So many issue s come back to the fact we do not reward hard work and risk taking instead we reward bad life style choices

Based on the numerous stories I've heard for the last 10 years I'd not reccomend anyone go anywhere near Civil Engineering. The job seems to combine the demand for a very wide skill set, long hours, stress, and.....very unremarkable pay.

I remember your story, Mr FPGA Satellite Payload designer, and I salute you. I wish more engineers with your talent would go solo and collect all the rewards for their efforts rather than giving most of it to their bosses.

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3 minutes ago, Great Guy said:

I'm a civil engineer. I'd say salaries plateau at about £40k for most engineers. For that you're expected to put in unpaid overtime...

To get the big money you either work in the Middle East or go self employed. Plenty guys on the big infrastructure projects are on six figures... I used to earn more in a week than my monthly salary. 

Imho, salaries have largely stood still over the last decade. 

To be honest, I'd say most professional salaries outside London plateau at about £40k to £50k. The average accountant or lawyer doesn't really earn massive money.

40-50K used to be a good wage and you could live well on it, sadly now the cost of living is far too high for that to be a good wage it needs to be closer to 150K - 200K 

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5 minutes ago, JoeDavola said:

Yes this is the expereince of my CE mate.

I think to go over the £40K mark would be to move into a level of management where he'd be juggling so much and under so much stress that it wouldn't be worth it.

I never realised civs was that badly paid. Chemical Engineering grads can be earning doctor type salaries after a few years experience. Especially if you job hop amongst big firms a few times and you're prepared to travel. 

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Its incredibly variable depending on field. In technology (by which I mean 'high technology', the kind that is only practiced at an international level) the experience is, relatively speaking to these other examples, excellent.

In sectors where the Googles, facebooks, Microsofts, oracles, Nvidias of the world compete to hire (whether in software, hardware, marketing, sales etc) skilled employees (basically eng, physics and compsci grads) pay has ballooned and probably comparable now to investment banks. Similarly for data science, mechanical engineering within such companies.

Technology here is more than just data centre stuff, it will include automotive suppliers, batteries, screens etc. 

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I think it's a combination if American fuckwittery - without the American salaried.

And the v low high rate tax rate.

In the US a sw head with 10y+ would be on well over equiv to  £140k.

See GE thread

The UK takes all the now vvv discredited MBA management  fuckwittery much worse - without the pay.

In ge UK, people move on by setting up as a one man ban - ir35 n all that- rather than move to Google or Amazon.

Corporate UK is in deep shit as theres fuck all skill depth in house.

 

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1 minute ago, JoeDavola said:

Based on the numerous stories I've heard for the last 10 years I'd not reccomend anyone go anywhere near Civil Engineering. The job seems to combine the demand for a very wide skill set, long hours, stress, and.....very unremarkable pay.

I remember your story, Mr FPGA Satellite Payload designer, and I salute you. I wish more engineers with your talent would go solo and collect all the rewards for their efforts rather than giving most of it to their bosses.

Civil is bonkers, such responsibility for such terrible pay. I understand it takes years to become chartered too if ever. 

 

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Yes. And if you hear the words "Agile" (and not necessarily in a IT sense) or "Transformation" run a fucking mile.

A number of friends of mine are professionals in STEM fields in the private sector and it has been a frequent topic of discussion for years now.

I once described it as "the steady beat of the more for less drum" and that was twenty years ago. Today it is more like a Buddy Rich solo. 

Also don't make the assumption that all public sector jobs are actually the cushy number some on here believe (while that is the case a lot of the time).

A lot of work over the last 20 odd years, especially operations side has been contracted out to the private sector corporate troughers so you get everything you have mentioned plus the government red tape on top so it is even worse.

I've experienced that first hand and the only thing missing was circus music playing.

I actually left my last place (private sector) before I ended up in front of a magistrate or keeled over. It just wasn't worth it.

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32 minutes ago, ad_ceng said:

Civil is bonkers, such responsibility for such terrible pay. I understand it takes years to become chartered too if ever.

Took my mate 8 years and nearly killed him. Seriously. Working evenings and weekends for what seemed like a whole year beforehand.

His reward, which he had to beg for, was being upped from 35 to 36K.

Edited by JoeDavola
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3 minutes ago, scepticus said:

Its incredibly variable depending on field. In technology (by which I mean 'high technology', the kind that is only practiced at an international level) the experience is, relatively speaking to these other examples, excellent.

In sectors where the Googles, facebooks, Microsofts, oracles, Nvidias of the world compete to hire (whether in software, hardware, marketing, sales etc) skilled employees (basically eng, physics and compsci grads) pay has ballooned and probably comparable now to investment banks. Similarly for data science, mechanical engineering within such companies.

Technology here is more than just data centre stuff, it will include automotive suppliers, batteries, screens etc. 

O/T but are you Scepticus (and possibly EDM) from ToS? If so, then welcome, I used to enjoy some of your posts over there.

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4 minutes ago, spygirl said:

I think it's a combination if American fuckwittery - without the American salaried.

And the v low high rate tax rate.

In the US a sw head with 10y+ would be on well over equiv to  £140k.

That's another very good point.

These stressful jobs in the US would net you a big house (ourside of the coastal states) and a 6 figure salary.

In the UK they pay little more than the Tax Credit Part Time Dog Walker gets, and you end up taking out 30 years debt on an ex council house.

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6 minutes ago, spygirl said:

I think it's a combination if American fuckwittery - without the American salaried.

And the v low high rate tax rate.

In the US a sw head with 10y+ would be on well over equiv to  £140k.

See GE thread

The UK takes all the now vvv discredited MBA management  fuckwittery much worse - without the pay.

In ge UK, people move on by setting up as a one man ban - ir35 n all that- rather than move to Google or Amazon.

Corporate UK is in deep shit as theres fuck all skill depth in house.

 

UK is fully fucked. I have a few job alerts set up for some companies of interest, multinationals - I'd bet fewer than 5% of their advertised  jobs are UK based, on the bright side there aren't many in Europe either. Its mainly US and China. 

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7 minutes ago, MrLibertyRedux said:

I actually left my last place (private sector) before I ended up in front of a magistrate or keeled over. It just wasn't worth it.

Were you the guy in IT ops?

Yeah when I was working for an IT consultantcy I figured out by the time I was 27 that I couldn't spend the rest of my life working in this kind of chronically stressful chaotic environment. Constant firefighting, never a 'normal' workload day. Constant knife-edge.

Thankfully I got out just before I turned 29 and hope never to return to that kind of environment.

Edited by JoeDavola
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1 minute ago, JoeDavola said:

That's another very good point.

These stressful jobs in the US would net you a big house (ourside of the coastal states) and a 6 figure salary.

In the UK they pay little more than the Tax Credit Part Time Dog Walker gets, and you end up taking out 30 years debt on an ex council house.

Connected to the ir35 thread.

Theres a public sector org that's always recruiting for a  skillset (gis) that I have on my CV- mainly due to getting dragged into something.

Anyhow, 2 years ago they were offering 300/day to basically do all the work whilst  theres 10 people on civil service salaries n pensions 'overseeing' you.

Now they say its inside ir35. And are offering 550/day.

Still v few takers.

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