There Isn't Much Difference Between White And Blue Collar Workers

factory, worker, blue collar, working class

Photo: Flickr / Hossam el-Hamalawy حسام الحملاوي

Good Morning DINKS.  Yesterday a colleague of mine at our bank branch made a comment about “working class” people.  I wasn’t personally offended by the comment, but it did make me start thinking about our society and how people view each other in different professions. Is it possible that in 2012 we are actually still living in a society defined by classes?My colleague looked out of a window at our bank branch at the traffic flow on the street and said “What are all of these people doing out in the middle of the day? Don’t they have jobs?” My immediate response to him was “They may be on vacation or they may be shift workers who are on their way to work or just finishing their shift.”

The concept of shift work is not foreign to me. I grew up a household where one parent worked rotating weekly shifts in a factory and the other parent worked 9 to 5 in an office.  The thought didn’t even occur to my colleague that there is an entire working world outside of a 9 to 5 work week.  He comes from a family where both parents work 9 to 5 in an office and people who work in factories, retail stores, and other “blue collar” positions are in a class below them.

My father worked rotating shifts in a factory for 30 years.  He earned a very good salary that supported a family with two young children who grew up to both graduate from university.  The medical and dental benefits were paid by the company which came in helpful when my sister and I needed braces to straighten our teeth or medication when we were sick.  Overtime was always a paid option at a rate of time and a half for employees who worked in the factory.  If my father chose to work on the weekends he was paid overtime at a rate of double his normal hourly wage.

My mother worked 9 to 5 in an office.  It is very possible that the working environment was more pleasant in an office environment than it was working in a factory, but the benefits were not necessarily comparable. My mother often put in extra hours at the office in hopes of advancing her career, but she was never compensated for her overtime. In your opinion what differentiates a “Blue Collar” worker from a “White Collar” worker? Maybe it is the annual salary, maybe it is the place of work, or the working environment, or maybe it is determined based on the extra employee benefits.

The concept of different classes is slightly more complicated than the difference between an office building and a factory.  People often determine classes based not only on our place of work and our type of work, but also our annual salary and our position title.  I think that it is very offensive (not to mention extremely rude) to call someone “working class”. If we all have jobs and if we all work aren’t we all “working class”?

Don’t miss: 10 signs your work-life balance is out of whack > 

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.