the sharp whip of insecurity that controls us all

Nothing AZ by moominsean via flickr

Britain at present is caught up in election fever. Or we’re supposed to be. From where I’m standing the most fevered of the lot are Owen Jones, Russell Brand and Rick Edwards, however maybe I should look less at my twitter feed and more at the papers, because there’s a only a few days left right?

But who to vote for? Whilst the answer should I hoped have been almost obvious, I am in some general frustration as quite frankly, not one single party will benefit my interests and needs. None of them. I don’t fall neatly in to any category. I am a 31 year old female with no dependents, on a zero hours contract, living in a ridiculously over priced flat, which has a very temperamental boiler and the kitchen ceiling fell in about 5 months ago… And it’s the zero hours contract that is the biggest issue.

Let’s go back to the beginning. This was not my plan. My plan was to work in fashion, which i did until I realised what a terrible mess of people’s education schools were making. So I re-trained as a teacher. Which was great until 15-18 hour days became the norm, i didn’t see my friends, family or have time to eat and was constantly told by management that nothing I did was good enough. Life is to short, so I like most of the cohort that trained alongside me, spoke with my feet and left.

3 years as an office assistant with PR, marketing and social media experience (before social media was even a thing) followed by 5 years teaching apparently according to recruitment agencies means I am unqualified and capable of very little. (This was said to me on several occasions)

So after taking a minimum wage position to prove I am indeed capable and not a complete eejit, I had a brief foray back into teaching (this time primary not secondary and as a consultant as well as teacher) before finding myself in my current role and which gets me onto Richard Seymour’s Guardian article.

Seymour highlights a number of reasons in his article that will keep me and others up at night. Fear is the biggest. The number of aspects of my job that fill me with fear are growing, rapidly, day by day. There have been numerous issues and moments that have arisen where I have wished I could say or do something, but being classed as indeed a ‘worker’ not an ’employee’ I simply can’t risk it. The impact it is also having on my social life and life plans is also becoming somewhat catastrophic. Recent winter illness’ which have left me unable to work have left me sitting at home crying with both pain (because of said illness) and fear (no work no pay) and again as Seymour points out, I am also on a zero hours contract that fails to pay the london living wage.

My company is inspiring, highly regarded and ethical. Yet I have almost had to make decisions about life and death solely due to my current ‘contract’. I make enough to live, just if I work weekends ontop (and by live I mean, pay credit card debt amassed when I was earning almost double and attempt to have some element of a social life) that’s provided my tax doesn’t get messed up which has happened three times this year… However I don’t make enough to be sick or go on holiday; if i could afford a holiday, or even just a few days off, I can’t afford to loose the money I would earn by going away… or being sick, which is partly why i’ve had a sinus infection for 3 months. Two random days off in bed have not shifted it; it’s now a choice between sniffing and spluttering next to my colleagues whilst by able to eat, or panic googling foodbanks and thinking ‘WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON’.

It’s not sustainable. Teaching, for me wasn’t sustainable due to the amount of hours, workload, anxiety and constant criticism. This is unsustainable in a different way. The anxiety and stress that goes hand in hand with the contract and the worry and the panic, undeniably links to my sinuses whether I like it or not. The constant insecurity has been and still is, whipping me to the point of collapse. And despite a Labour win potentially loosing me my job completely, in the long run, being on a zero hours contract is neither sustainable for your physical, or indeed mental well being. Which is why i’m going red. Because this state of affairs is ridiculous.

words – Richard Seymour from this

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