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Sunday, 7 February 2016

Volunteer workers in Australia are up in arms over recent troubles. A spokesperson for the Volunteer Workers' Union said this morning "It is becoming apparent that some office managers don't like nor appreciate volunteers working for them." She added that volunteers are not going to tolerate being treated like other office workers any more, and that they will stay on strike until they get a decent offer.

People volunteer their services for free for many reasons. They might want something useful to do after they have retired from paid work. They might want the good feeling that comes from helping others. They might want work experience if they are unemployed. They might simply want to spend some time with other people doing useful work. They might volunteer for any or all of these reasons or for other more personal ones. Whatever their reasons, volunteers give their time freely to fill many of the gaps in the service of other people.

A spokesperson for Volunteering Australia said that "Volunteers are the backbone of many charities. Without volunteer workers charities would have far less money to spend on their needy clients." He added that a good organisation will appreciate its volunteers and show them that they are appreciated. Since volunteers aren't being paid money and are providing useful services they should be rewarded with appreciation. He suggested that "There's no need to go overboard: An occasional 'Thank you!' or 'Good work!' will go down well, as will being treated as a little bit special."

Unfortunately, some organisations take their volunteers for granted. In which case the volunteers become unhappy, leave and go volunteering elsewhere where they are appreciated. Because of recent bad treatment volunteers have withdrawn their labour and come out on strike.

"I believe that some office managers don't like volunteers because we are outside the normal chain of command in the office. We are more independent than paid workers, since we are not reliant on earning our pay, and can come and go as we please." said the Volunteer Workers' Union spokesperson.

She went on to explain that office managers have less authority over volunteers who have no official position in the hierarchy of the office, and are thus less under the dominance of the manager. Most managers like to have a rigid chain of command where everyone knows their place and is dependent on, and controlled by, the person ranking above them in the hierarchy. They like to dominate their workers. Volunteers are to some extent outside their control and less likely to submit to domination: If they are not happy they can leave and go elsewhere. So, to these managers, the volunteers are treated as unreliable.

A handout from the Volunteer Workers' Union stated "What people do as a volunteer, and how they do it, is their choice. They don't have to tolerate lack of approval, dominance or other problems from the people they choose to work with. If they aren't happy at their workplace then they have the right to withdraw their labour whenever they like. No-one can force them to do volunteer work in a place where they aren't happy." However, a number of managers have lately been laying down the law and seeking to dominate volunteers, who say they are sick and tired of being treated like ordinary workers.

A spokesperson for the volunteers said "Volunteering is a very rewarding option for people who have the time to spare and an interest in helping others. You might have to try a number of positions before you find the one that suits you. Volunteers are part of a world-wide movement that serves charity and other organisations providing services to the needy. Volunteers would like to get a nice, warm feeling from their volunteer work. Because of the domineering office managers they aren't getting it."

Office managers around the country declined to comment, because it might harm their relationship with their volunteers. One officer manager, who wished to remain unnamed, did say "It's nice to have a completely empty office while the volunteers are not here." We understand that work in many charity offices has come to a complete standstill as there is no-one to do the work while the volunteers are on strike.

The Volunteer Workers' Union says that they will stay on strike until they get an offer of more appreciation. Other workers' unions are threatening to come out on strike in sympathy.

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