"You may say that I am a dreamer/But I am not the only one" John Lennon: "Imagine"

"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"

Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A few days of contrasts - Friday

Before I even start a grumble/excuse. blogger has redesigned itself. And no doubt once I have got to grips with it, I will fully appreciate all its new features. Its just that inbetween time when I will make a terrible hash of things this blog will be a bit dreadful. So as the wonderful actress says on TV's Miranda 'Bear With'..

The past few days have been in turns hectic, interesting,infuriating, fun,full of contrasts and occasionally monumentally frustrating. So as Other Half shouted at one point 'I hope you are blogging about this', indeed I am!

Friday found me once again sending out CVs with my friend who is job-seeking. As I mentioned in my last blog, he has been made redundant for the third time in just over six months. I know from other friends who are in the same position [here in the 'prosperous South East'] it is necessary if one is lucky enough to have access to a computer to spend a lot of time each day on the JobCentre web site put up by Direct Gov. Quite a frustrating site really, but then these sort of sites always are and after one has spent a few hours reading through the jobs on offer and following up links etc the 'translations' begin to flow easily and reading between the lines becomes easy. As always what is not said is more important that what is written down.

'Please ring in the first place for details' - actually means once we have spoken to you we will ask you to send a CV, could have been said on the site but we wanted you to waste the cost of a 'phone call.

'Do not send speculative CVs but only apply for specific vacancies, CVs will not be held on file' - means we want you to look at our web site everyday and save us the bother of filing your CV in case a job suitable comes up tomorrow. That way we can save our important time as you obviously have nothing else to do.

'Owner/Driver for deliveries, must be flexible, mileage paid' - although you are out of work, we want you to arrive with a reliable vehicle, thereby paying tax, insurance and all running expenses and you will receive a small amount per mile which will just about cover the cost of the petrol. No set hours or area, we will not be flexible with you unless of course there isn't any work in which case you won't get paid of course.

'Minimum wage paid'- only apply if you don't have to pay fares or travel any distance. [The prosperous South East has very expensive train and bus fares. The job centre will help with public transport fares for interviews but if there is no public transport access will not help with petrol]

'Hourly rate between £AAAph and £DDDph, shift workers required' - the low wage is for the day rates, the top rates for weekend nights. Guess which vacancies are left?

'Although this is a manual job, some computer skills would be an advantage' - we only want to pay manual labour rates for what is a largely IT job.

And so on. We often hear that 'the unemployed' will not apply for jobs because they get more 'on the dole'. Looking at the rates offered it can be seen that whilst often job seekers are barely existing on their allowances plus any extra benefits [and in the case of my friend, he is not entitled to any extra as he has lost his house and is living with his parents. They are State Pensioners but even that does not allow him to claim anything extra as they do not claim Pension credits] to take a job at some of the low rates offered would mean a cut in income when travelling expenses are taken into account. Where we live in the South East a lot of jobs are across the Thames so two trips over and under a day are necessary, at a cost of £3 a day, without the petrol if one has a car.

There is also a new type of 'casual' work - employment agencies ringing up about 10am with an offer of a days work. This reminds me of stories of my G.Grandfather standing with crowds of others at the Dock Gates in the 1920s, waiting to see if there was a days work for any of them. And of course the companies who use this method are not paying National Insurance or providing facilities for these labourers, and although they may employ the same people several times a month, would you like this type of job insecurity? My friend applied for a 'Crisis Loan' of £70 from the Job Centre' as he is still waiting to see if he is going to get the four weeks money that his last employers owe him and he will not be getting any payment from the Job Seekers Allowance for another few days. He was told he could be allowed £6.08p. Not even enough to pay the bus fare and back into the nearest big town to go around all the shops and hand his CV in [this is his last resort ploy].

Still we are all in it together and no doubt he is looking forward - whilst he waits for replies from all the CVs we have sent off - to sitting on the sofa, watching Jeremy Kyle whilst swigging lager and scratching his genitals. Like all the rest of the lazy population of unemployed who could find a job if they wanted.

My stories of my few days of contrasts will continue once I have swallowed some headache pills. Temper always does that to me.

The photograph above shows Welsh Hunger Marchers in the 1930s. I may have used this before. My father marched with them - he was a Labour politician in the 1950s and 1960s. He thought those days had gone, I am terrified that they are coming again.

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