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February 5, 2023

Australian Senator Understands Big 4 Working Conditions Better Than a PwC Partner

“I’m not talking about billing hours, actual hours of work were 80 to 120 hours. There were people that were substantially underpaid. Wouldn’t you call that a sweatshop?”

Tony Sheldon, Labor senator and former union boss, asked PwC Australia partner Catherine Walsh during a Senate hearing on job security Dec. 8. Walsh was there to answer questions about a PwC “skills hub” in western Sydney, in which the Australian Financial Review reported used dozens of unqualified workers, on lower salaries and with less training and resources than their main office counterparts, to complete audit work from an unbranded office for large listed clients. It was reported that PwC staff at the “skills hub” were required to work more than 80 hours a week.

Walsh replied to Sheldon’s question: “I would not characterise what was occurring there in the way that you have, Senator.” She obviously has never worked an audit or tax busy season at PwC or any of the other Big 4 firms in the US.

  • Working 80 to 120 hours a week.
  • Employees substantially underpaid.
  • White-collar sweatshop conditions.

PwC denies operating ‘white-collar sweatshop’ in western Sydney [Australian Financial Review]

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  1. It’s ridiculous to compare working in public accounting to slave labor or a sweat shop. You work indoors, in an air conditioned building, and use your brain rather than having to do back-breaking manual labor. You get lunch breaks, and any other breaks you want. You don’t get beaten or threatened with bodily harm. While the pay could be better, you’re making a lot more than most people, and there are all sorts of perks. You get raises every year, and bonuses many years. You get holidays off, as well as most weekends (especially in the summer). And most importantly, if you don’t like it, you can quit.

    1. Welllllll, its mostly air conditioned (don’t forget the inventory observations at the chicken plant). And you do get lunch breaks, but you’d better get back in under an hour. And I once had a senior who did threaten me with bodily harm, but nobody took her seriously. I agree there are lots of perks (all the memo pads and paper clips you can use). As for holidays and weekends, did I mention the inventory observations at the chicken plant? And yes, you can certainly quit, which I did, eventually.

      Seriously though, I agree you shouldn’t compare an accounting job with a sweat shop. If you’ve ever done real manual labor, you know the difference.

      1. The end of your comment hit the nail on the head. The only people who compare accounting to slavery or working in a sweat shop are those who have never had to do actual hard physical work. When someone makes such a comparison, they are exposing themselves for the cupcake life they’ve been fortunate to live.

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