Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Another Boring Little Trip Into My Past

Wednesday, 26 March 2003

Back in my days as a career bureaucrat, I played a small, but pivotal, role in a newsworthy industrial dispute. I started the bloody thing. Yes, it is typical isn't it?

It all started with a couple of electrical contractors who were installing wiring for a new computer system. They had removed a few tiles from the false ceiling and were busy hauling cable through the roof space. In the process they disturbed some very suspicious looking fibrous mineral stuff that had been lying on top of the ceiling tiles. It was insulation material that had fallen there form the underside of the floor above. It looked a lot like asbestos.

I spent a good part of that morning on the telephone - I do remember that much, although the content of most of the calls is lost a bit foggy. There was one to the state branch office of my union, of course. And several others to any analytical chemistry laboratories I could find in the yellow pages, on the off-chance that one of them might take on a spot of quick chemical analysis on a Friday afternoon. I found a laboratory close enough for one of "the members" to drive a sample of the suspect material over at lunch-time, with a preliminary report to be provided that afternoon. I also spent a lot of time that Friday in heated discussion with my office manager and other union delegates in the building. No one wanted to know basically.


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