Labour pains

WHEN it comes to hard yakka, 17 per cent of Orange’s workforce clocks up more than 49 hours at work per week and Orange’s tradies are among the hardest workers.

Of the city’s 17,333 strong workforce, 2952 residents said they worked more than 49 hours per week in the 2011 census.

Managers worked the longest hours, with almost 40 per cent clocking up more than 49 hours per week, followed by 30 per cent of the city’s machinery operators and drivers. Trade workers and technicians were the third hardest workers, with 23 per cent working more than 49 hours a week.

Orange plumber Peter Owens said he worked between 60 and 80 hours a week, but his lifelong dream to be a tradie meant he would not swap the job for anything else.

“I grew up around a lot of blue collar workers and they always worked really hard,” he said.

“You can’t turn jobs down ... you’ve got to keep the business going.”

While there may be more managers in Orange who said they worked more than 49 hours per week, they also got paid a lot more. 

Of the 727 managers who said they worked more than 49 hours per week, 220 of them earned more than $2000 per week, whereas, of the 545 trades workers who worked more than 49 hours, only 114 of them earned more than $2000 per week.

Mr Owens said while managers and professionals worked hard too, tradies would always be the salt of the earth.

“I’m not really surprised because all the tradies I know work really hard,” he said. 

Mr Owens is a 24-hour-a-day plumber and gets about three night time call-outs per month.

He said he was proud when his son Ben asked if he could join him in the family business and became a plumber when he left school. 

While Ben does not work 80 hours  a week like his father, Mr Owens said his son works just as hard as he does when he is on the job.

The men work during the day, but Mr Owens’ job does not finish when he comes home of an evening. 

He sits down and starts his bookwork, which can take hours each evening, and that work is unpaid, something not many managers and professionals have to do, he said. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics definition of professionals includes engineers, chemists, journalists, teachers, health professionals, solicitors, social workers and medical workers. 

In this category, 225 professionals who worked more than 49 hours per week earned more than $2000 per week.

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