Day 26 – Rhys Linnett

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Day 26 – Interview: Life Working as a Brickie
in Australia with Rhys Linnett

Is that their main aim, too, of most tradies1 these days? It’s not to be like the old school guys. You know, when we were growing up, a lot of my friends parents were these, you know, say old Greek or Italian dudes who were brickies2, and had worked for 50 years in that job. And their bodies were just totally torn up. And, you know, they just, they, you know, couldn’t sit down without being in pain. Is there more of an educated, sort of, take on that these days, and trying to get you out of using tools for your entire life, and more towards, say, like managing your own business and having your own guys than, yeah, just sticking to the tools and smashing it out for your entire life.

I think its, especially, I mean, I can only really speak from my generation because a lot of my friends are tradies that pretty much everybody that I know who’s a trader is are roughly around my age, you know, give or take. That is generally the goal, is to get to a point where either you’re running your own business, and you’re not on the tools, and you sort of, you choose to go in when you want to. Or if you need a few extra people just to, you know, get a job done or whatever to help lift something, then you might pop in. Or the other instance is to become like a project manager, or a site foreman3, where the physical labour isn’t there. Okay, it’s a lot more mental strain4 because you’ve got to be organising, you know, six or seven blokes, and making sure that everyone’s making their quota5.

You’re making money and they’re making money. And also the business itself is making money. Or yeah, you’re going into more of like a commercial side of thing, where you’re a foreman or, you know, you’re a site supervisor or something like that, where the labour intensive6 side is not- it’s not going to basically, as you said, you’re not to be working for 50 years doing that trade, and absolutely be wrecked by the end of it. I know for a fact that everybody that I know, that’s a tradie, that’s the end goal.

And it’s basically just taking the steps that you need to do towards that. You know, it’s not going to happen overnight. You’re not going to be doing it at 23 or something like that. It’s more looking at 30 or 35, when you’ve got a family, and stuff like that. So you’re not having to do all that physically demanding labour that’s going to, you know, limit you to be able to play with your kids. You know, play a bit of footy7 with the kids or, you know, take them swimming and stuff like that. Or, you know, being able to actually be active at that age rather than slugging it out8. And you still might make a lot of good money, but you can’t really enjoy your life afterwards.

I was going to get on, too, to talking about foreigners who’ve come over to Australia and could potentially9 obviously do these jobs or maybe they did these jobs in their home countries. Would you encourage listeners, who are potentially not living in Australia, to come over here and take up bricklaying, or continue doing this job over here? Is it easy enough for foreigners to get into as well?

I find To be, to be honest, I mean, I’m only speaking from the people that I’ve worked with, who are foreigners, whether they be, you know, from England, from India or from, you know, Asia or any sort of like place that they actually work a lot harder because, especially if they’re trying to get citizenship here or residency, that there’s a lot more on the line for them.

For us, it’s, you know, it’s just a pay cheque. You know, you might not get as much as you got last week because, you know, you didn’t work hard enough or, you know, I think we take it a bit for granted how lucky we are that there’s so much work available and it’s so easy to get. Like, especially if you’re working in a trade. It’s pretty impossible not to get a job.

You know, if you really want to work, you’ll find something. You just got to be wanting to do, you know, the harder job sometimes to then maybe get, you know, do the harder jobs for a few months. And then it’s going to lead into something that’s going to make, you know, a lot better. Or I mean, and if you’ve got if you’ve got the trade background, so if you are, you know, a brickie in your own country and you’re thinking maybe to come over here for some work, I mean, generally, most of the time, they work a lot harder.

And there, you know, there’s no skill difference. It’s more just about getting out there and, you know, putting yourself out there to get the jobs, rather than just, you know, chucking out a few messages. You’ve got to actively seek the jobs. If you drive past a job site, or if you go on the train, pass a job site, pop in and let them know that you’re looking for work. And they’ll probably, you know, tradies know tradies.


So I might not know somebody to, you know, looking for brickies, but I know a friend of a friend who’s a brickie who needs, you know, blokes10 to help him out. So there’s always ways of getting, you know, people who are always asking for, you know, extra blokes for work and stuff like that. So if you talk to one bloke, you know, they’re going to be surely know somebody who needs an extra hand.

And what sort of advice would you have for them for coming to Australia? Say they’re the best brickie in the world, they get the job, they come to the site, but they feel like they don’t mix well with the people there? Or they can’t communicate with them as well as they’d like? I have that, I have that- I’ve heard that from a few friends before, where they say they just seem to be teased11 quite a bit, or that they just don’t understand the slang or the accents. What kind of advice would you have for those people on how to learn the language, or better fit in as well in these kinds of sites? Should they take this kind of stuff seriously with regards to like, say, being teased? Just, do you want to talk about that for a sec?

I think for me, like majority of the time, for… especially like in a trade atmosphere12, there is a lot of.. I wouldn’t really call it bullying, because it’s all, like, all in good fun. Like, it’s very- I mean, me speaking personally, I’ve been on a lot of different sides with loads of different crews, that majority of the time, everyone’s just taking the piss13. Like, we’re just having a bit of a laugh. Sometimes it gets a little bit personal. And generally for me, I usually just.. Whoever’s, you know, sort of takes it a bit too far. I usually just take them to the side afterwards, like, not in front of anybody else and say, ‘Look, I don’t really appreciate you talking like that’, you know, or mentioning stuff like that. I’m all, I’m all for a laugh. And, you know, if you make a mistake or you slip over in the mud or something like that, and you get your clothes dirty, look, I’m all for a laugh. You know, if you want to make a bit of fun of me and stuff like that, I just, you know, I laugh with you.

It’s funny, we get over it and stuff like that, but I feel like if it ever gets taken a bit too far, just to, talk to the person who did. You know, one on one, don’t do it in a group and stuff like that. And just sort of address it and just say, ‘Look, I don’t appreciate it’. Like I’m all, you know, jobs are supposed to be fun. You’re meant to have a bit of a laugh and, you know, take a piss a little bit with each other.

But if it’s sort of oversteps the boundaries a bit, I feel like you should just talk to the person who did and just sort of let them know that you don’t appreciate it. And, you know, generally most of the time, tradies are pretty, pretty good. Sometimes, you know, in the heat of the moment14, you might get to say something that’s, you know, you shouldn’t have said. And generally, they probably agree with what you’re saying. It’s probably just the best option to talk to them about it, you know, one on one, just, you know, after it happens or at the end of the day, or the start of the next day, just let them know.

But that’s probably the way I would say it. Whenever I’ve had an issue with somebody, I’ve always sort of spoken to them like personally, after work or the next day, in the morning.

Day 26 – Glossary

  1. Tradies1 – Aussie slang, a skilled, manual professional, such as a plumber, electrician or carpenter.
  2. Brickies2 – Aussie slang, a bricklayer.
  3. Site foreman3 – or construction foreman; is a key member of the contractor team, responsible for organising construction works on site.
  4. Strain4 – force (a part of one’s body or oneself) to make a strenuous or unusually great effort.
  5. Quota5 – a fixed share of something that a person or group is bound to contribute.
  6. Labour intensive6 – (of a form of work) needing a large workforce or a large amount of work in relation to output.
  7. Footy7 – Aussie slang; football; soccer.
  8. Slugging it out8 – working really hard physically.
  9. Potentially9 – with the capacity to develop or happen in the future.
  10. Blokes10 – Aussie slang; men.
  11. Tease11 – make fun of or attempt to provoke (a person or animal) in a playful way.
  12. Atmosphere11 – the pervading tone or mood of a place or situation.
  13. Taking the piss13 – (Aussie slang) joking around; not being serious; kidding.
  14. In the heat of the moment14 – while temporarily angry or excited, and without stopping for thought.