I wanted to move from a sector where women are in the majority to one where men are, and I was looking for a more permanent solution. About nine years ago, I got a job as a press brake operator at Relicomp as part of an employment course I took part in, and I have been the chief union representative since the beginning of 2013. I worked as a dental nurse in temporary positions for over ten years and finally got frustrated when I did not find permanent employment.
I enjoy working with the guys at Relicomp and we have a similar sense of humour. At the moment, we are nine women among a total of 100 workers on the shop floor. My colleagues have always been willing to help and I have always felt welcome in the group. Night shifts were always amusing as everyone kept pranking each other – while obviously taking care of our tasks as well. That kind of humour helps you get through the day, even if it’s a grey one.
The best thing about a press brake operator’s job is that you get to work independently. When we get the work pieces, we check the drawings for the desired shape and measurements and fold the pieces accordingly. The work is varied because the pieces we handle are all different. In this kind of a job you keep learning all through your career, and I for instance have received further training on the job. Knowing how to read drawings and use different measurements are crucial skills. It is also important to know how to program the machines, but in my opinion that is the easy part of the job. Some tasks are more challenging than others: Sometimes a piece may have 15 bends and the bends of the pieces must be done in a certain order, which requires some more thought than the simplest ones.
Relicomp has a good reputation and it is a sought-after employer. We have a good atmosphere at work and we are lucky to have the management close by, which makes it easier to discuss issues when necessary. Our supervisors are also easy-going and not at all bossy. Health and safety issues, for example, can be discussed with the health and safety representative. While there is always room for improvement, mostly everything works fine: everyone has all the required safety equipment and we have received more lifting accessories.
I have never regretted changing careers and I enjoy working here. The most important factors that affect my job satisfaction are my co-workers, the good atmosphere we have and the humour we share with my colleagues.
Press brake operator, chief union representative