The uber-parasites

The article The film that shows we’re all parasites now by David Aaronovitch in The Times, February 12 2020. My comment

13 February

I came to the UK in June 2016, couple of days before the Brexit referendum, looking for a job that would pay our family bills and mortgage on a flat in Poland. Six months earlier, my wife and I were fired from our state jobs in Poland for political reasons. Although I have a PhD in Physics from an American university, I was not successful in finding a more advanced job, given my constraints of time and limited financial resources. With money quickly running out, I had to take anything that would come my way.

I became a night cleaner in an international restaurant chain headquartered in Brussels. I was paired with a Lithuanian guy. We worked 99 days, or rather nights, in a row without taking a day off. Taking a night off would only result in a disruption to your body clock and smaller earnings. The company did not want to discuss with us an option of taking e.g. a week off after 6 weeks of continuous work. We started with five restaurants a night, then agreed to an increase of the load to six, and eventually to seven restaurants. We traveled between the locations on foot, by bus, and on the Tube, before it was closed for the night.

We were not paid for the time spend moving between the restaurants and we were not reimbursed for our transport expenses. The company wanted to have the job done, but preferred not to ask about the details. To them we were employed while inside a restaurant, but we were apparently private persons while moving from one place to another. My emails were unanswered. We were nobody to them.

As it turned out, the company was violating the law, not paying us for the time spent travelling between assignments and not covering our transport expenses. At one point we were treated in quite a nasty way. I won’t go into details here. Let me just say, that they and us did not seem to belong to the same category of people.

The relation between the rich and a person they hire is not always much different from the relation between a company and its employee.

My next job was leaflet distribution. This time I was self-employed, which meant that I paid travelling expenses from my own pocket. My days off were unpaid. Every day we worked with a supervisor, who was also self-employed. The leaflet distribution company’s idea of business was to hire a large bunch of self-employed to do the work in the field. The employees were those sitting in an office. The company boss seemed to be more or less on constant vacation in various exotic locations. He was finalist in one of those ‘future tiger of business’ shows where his idea of a company was very warmly received. I have never seen him.

If you wanted to visit a loo, while delivering leaflets, you were on your own. What if you happened to be in a residential area with no coffee shops or bars? Too bad. You were on your own. Your problem.

I spent 8 months in this job, working seven days a week, rain, shine, or snow.

In my current job I happen to serve people generally well off, some of them well-known in public life in the UK. For some of them I am invisible, but to quite many I am actually human, albeit more shabbily dressed. Sometimes I hear praise for my arithmetic skills. 🙂

So, who are the uber-parasites? The people who fired me and my wife in Poland, as well as those who protect them, all the way to the top. They are the real threat.