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My summer job nightmare

12th September 2011

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The summer month signal the time that students are able to fully let loose. But what happens when your funds run out?

In order to fund my summer of fun; meeting up with friends, travelling across the country and generally keeping myself from the claws of boredom, I decided to find out what the recruitment agencies had to offer. I was looking for a low skilled, quick fix of a job, and this decision was possibly one of the worst that I made.

Recruitment agencies provide people with jobs every day. Now advertising online, they are helping more people to gain employment than ever, only requiring a percentage of the jobseeker's earnings. The vacancy that I saw advertised sought litter pickers for V-festival. I jumped at the chance to see some bands play, whilst being paid a decent amount per hour. After attending an unpaid health and safety meeting on what I would be doing though, I grew cautious.

The job seemed different to any I had ever had. I did not have to commit to any permanent contract, and was simply earning money to spend on what I liked. My day (and positive outlook) took a serious turn when, to my surprise, I was questioned by immigration officers on my arrival. It seemed that I was one of three British workers out of approximately one hundred and twenty five. After finding the job advertised on a student-based website, I was expecting to work with young music lovers. But instead I was confronted with families, working on the fields to earn their income.

Beginning an hour ahead of schedule, we were introduced to a family of travellers, who were to become our 'field supervisors.' They walked behind us shouting at us because we weren't picking all the pieces of paper that we had missed. Becoming both annoyed and tired, I longed to get back onto the coach home, but felt utterly trapped. By the time seven o'clock came, I had; engaged in a fight with a small woman over a poxy piece of rubbish, been told to pick up a pile of human faeces (as it was deemed 'litter' by one of the supervisors) and been charged for ripping one of my plastic gloves. To add to the terror of my day, the team were refused transport home until all fields were cleaned. 

Overall my contracted six hours of work at £36 had turned into eleven hours of work for a total of £16.20- I had later found that the 'transport provided' had cost me £5, and the rest of my money was either taxed or taken for 'damages.' I was horrified to think that this is the treatment that some families have to accept in order to earn a meagre sum of money each day. 

As students we shouldn't be too fussy about the part time jobs that we get as after all, they provide us with the money we need. If anything, this experience has taught me to be wary of temporary employers who advertise huge benefits (such as free V-fest tickets). It is important however to remember that employment is not always fair, and we should not expect an easy ride from it. So next time your scanning the vacancies, watch out. 

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