So, I have certainly become one of the long term unemployed (perhaps not as a statistic yet as I only signed on last month), this is not an ideal situation. Now before we worry that this is in some way a pity parade Stop, fear not, for I want to explain something simple and yet complex.
On Tuesday I applied for a job on-line, something I didn't really want to do but felt I could get it and so went for it. Wednesday night I got the call, no, not for an interview but instead to start the next day! Result right? Well here I go by explaining that this job is cleaning newly built buildings on building sites. This is an environment I had stated categorically I would never enter again, and yet off I went. I said yes, packed my bag, pulled my boots out of storage and made my lunch. With my alarm set I hit the hay and decided I would make it work somehow.
The next day saw me arrive early from the pick up point and watch as the other site cleaners arrived, A mish-mash of multinationals and unfriendly faces. I signed in expecting to be given some forms, a few bits of paper and a finish time. Nope. Nothing. I stood and waited and then was approached by a guy that said I was 'with him' that day.I followed him like a sheep to the car and we set off, a young Latvian girl driving. Informed that we were off to Horsham and then Chelmsford I began to understand what I was in for.
We sat and she drove and they bitched about how shit it was to do this job and they were friendly enough to me but it was almost taken as read that I would not be around for long. Was this a value judgement on me or the job? Still unclear on that one really. The jury's out.
We arrived in Horsham and hit the house we needed to clean. I've worked on sites for the last four years or more and I know what to do, what to clean, what to move, what to say and how to act. The work was easy, we did it fast and got out. Two hours in and out. That's pretty good. So its not the work that's the problem.
Back on the road and off to Chelmsford and the M25 hammered us, we got stuck for an hour and a half and still continued on to our destination arriving at 2ish. We got a house to do straight away and again got right to it and without boring you we got the job done, but oh, what time did we leave? Five o clock. So our trip back fired us back into town and home for seven thirty. Out from five thirty AM till seven thirty PM.
I didn't see Dot at all. The elder kids went to bed thirty minutes after I got back. We got a half hour together. That's it.
I texted the contact man and asked when I was to sign things and get an idea on wage per week and he texted back in broken English saying I had to work Friday and then meet the boss afterwards and that he agreed different money with every single person he worked with. I texted back and said okay. I didn't want to walk away from money I should be earning. I didn't want to admit defeat and yet knew I couldn't work and sacrifice the time with my wife and children. I can work full time but not all week, never seeing the little ones at all, then be expected to work Saturdays? No.
I arrived the next morning and same again. Off to Chelmsford. We hit there by nine, stayed all day and though all the talk was of leaving as soon as possible my two co workers slowed right down come two o clock. The urge to return before six was gone for them. Why? What could have turned their heads and made them resistant to arriving at a reasonable time? I'm thinking because that's not what they are expected to do. They are expected to work twelve hours so the need to get back was defeated by their fear of the 'boss.'
We set off home at four forty, got caught in traffic and finally arrived back in town at seven thirty again. Hum.
I didn't go to the office and see this man, I didn't say 'see you monday', I got out, thanked them and headed home (they dropped me off on the way to the office). I walked briskly home and got back to spend twenty minutes with Dot before she went to bed. I was overjoyed to see them and felt robbed of my day, of the reason I live and knew I couldn't do the ridiculous hours they wanted me to.
My phone buzzed and I looked at the text; a demand for me to work Saturday. I said no. I also said I wasn't working again until I saw the boss and got an idea of money. What I'm actually looking to do is simple; I want my money from the two days of work I did. I don't want this job, not because its hard but because it goes against my way of life completely. Want me to work a hard job with long hours? Sure. Want me to work a job which comes between me and my family? Forget it!
So I don't want you to think I'm lazy, unrealistic or weak. I don't want to be handed something on a platter. I just want you to understand; the things that are important to me are too important to sacrifice. I will work, find several part time jobs or a permanent position that fits and gets us the cash to stand alone. I will develop my writing and study so that I can get a better job in the future. I will try and make this work every and any way I can, but its important that you understand that nothing is more important to me than my family. Nothing ever will be.
This job is mine for the taking, or more accurately, if I took this job I would be being taken for a ride by it. I'm not doing it. I'll find another way.
I'm one of the long term unemployed but I'm not beaten. I know there's work out there that's for me and that as important as it is to find it I also need to make sure its the RIGHT sort of work. To sacrifice my family life is simply not an option... It never has been and it never will be.
I apologise if I'm going to be on Job Seekers for a little bit longer but some things are more important than money.
(As a side note the wage they offer is apparently in the region of £225 a week, that's for over fifty hours work. Now I'm no maths genius but I think its highly illegal to employ people and offer below minimum wage. That's why I'm shopping this nasty arsehole to the job centre come Monday.)