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Life Stories

Broos' Story

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"When you have worked for over a year with temporary contracts and then they give you three 6-month contract, they must know whether you are good enough for the job"

Broos, 20 years, Belgium

"You should see the taxes we have to pay at the end of the year! I got my tax adjustment after doing night shifts for one year. I had to pay 3,000 Euros because the temporary work agencies don't deduct enough taxes on wages. But they don't tell you that. Yes, I got a good salary, but at the end of the year, I had to pay additional taxes equal to two months' salaries. And that is a lot of money!  I had asked them to deduct the maximum taxes at source. They said they would....3,000 euros in taxes, and the following year, 1,500 euros...

The promise of a permanent contract.

Through one interim agency I worked for more than a year in a steel company in Poperinge. It mostly manufactured truck parts. At the agency they said "It's a company which rapidly gives a fixed-term contract. You will be treated well and will get a good salary.  And the work is not hard."  The only thing they didn't lie about was the good salary.

As far as the work was concerned, I had to carry 30-40 kilo metal parts and place them on a machine. To process one part, I had to reposition it 4 times and I was doing 300-400 pieces a day. And every day we had to process at least 200 pieces, otherwise they would say "but what did you do today?". After a day like that, I was going home completely exhausted. And the following day, I had to go back! That was really tough! But you get used to it after one week.

In the factory there were a lot of machines dating from the 1950s, without a safety system. I know a guy from Poperinge who lost 2 fingers in such a machine. The company tried to lay the responsibility for the accident on him...

I think it's outrageous that they can keep you more than a year as a temporary worker. After that, I had a six-month temporary contract, then another one, and when the last contract was over, they fired me. Reason: the financial crisis. What a joke!?

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 March 2015 13:04

Gemma's Story

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" I have done a bit of everything in this world, except working with some stability and in dignity"

Gemma, 27 years, Spain

My name is Gemma, I am 27 and I am an educationalist.

I live with my parents in a village in the Vega plain, nearby Granada. Due to my working conditions, I cannot afford to live on my own. At the moment, I am working for two different companies. The first one is a small company organizing cultural activities. I am an instructor in a class which starts very early in the morning. In the afternoon, I work as a sociocultural activity leader in a home for the elderly, even though my diploma has nothing to do with this job.

I have been an instructor in holiday camps, an extra in street theater activities, a clown in children's communions, a supervisor in several workshops, in a canteen, in extracurriculum activities, and I gave private classes... All in all, I have done a bit of everything in this world, except working with some stability and in dignity.

In most jobs, I didn't even have a contract, with all the consequences (no insurance, no social contributions). No need to mention the seasonal and unsteady nature of the work.

Last Updated on Saturday, 25 April 2015 09:29

Lien's Story

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"With the qualification I have you can't go to an interim agency, so you have to rely on your own resources"

Lien Van der Meeren, 25 years, Belgium

"In 2004 I graduated as a pedagogical worker. When I finished school and started to search for a job, I realised that it isn't because you have a qualification, that it's easy to find a job. Though we have a good social protection system, you have to wait 9 months until you can get some support from the government.

"So first I had to do some other jobs which didn't correspond to my qualification. Those were jobs I had to do if I wanted to earn some money and to get integrated in society. The major problem while searching for a job, is that the organisations expect you to have some experience. But if you don't get the chance to start somewhere, you can't get any experience.

"After some time I had the luck to find a job that matched my qualification, but still it was just to replace someone who was pregnant. It's not easy to find a permanent job in the sector I graduated. After that I had again some jobs to fill the gap while I was searching for a job as a pedagogical worker. With the qualification I have you can't go to an interim agency, they can't help you there, so you have to rely on your own resources. Now I work for the YCW, so actually for the moment I can't complain.

Last Updated on Sunday, 09 March 2014 01:21

Jacks story

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"We need a system that promotes solidarity"

Jack, 26 years, Belgium

"I have been living in Belgium for 18months and I work in a metal factory in Brussels, with a permanent full-time contract. I am originally from Peru and in Peru I worked in many different jobs. One was as a taxi driver for 2 and a half years, more or less 6 days a week, 15 hours per day. It was informal work, and every month for a different salary, sometimes 200 Euro per month, and at other times less. After that I had an experience of formal work in a hotel where I cleaned rooms for 6months, and worked driving taxis during the weekend. I left the work in the hotel to move to Europe.

"I came to Belgium to work and to study and to help my family because I had the chance to come here. I decided to come with the thought that the salary I could gain could help me support my family and help pay my studies.

"I searched for work for 6 months in Belgium. It was difficult, because I didn't speak the local language, but I searched through the interim agencies, personally visited workplaces to ask for work, and asked everyone I had met here to see if they could help me to find a job.

Last Updated on Saturday, 02 May 2015 22:16

Fran?§oiss story

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"A basic income should guarantee that people don't have to be alone"

Fran?§ois, 22 years, Belgium

I come from Verviers and have been unemployed for 8 and a half months. I live with my parents, and I am registered with 15 interim agencies - some in Verviers and some in Li??ge. The agencies help match my qualifications with jobs that are available through a computer search, but usually I'm excluded because I don't have a car, or I don't have enough experience"

My parents receive a family payment for me since I am unemployed, and from them I receive around 75 euros per month for my personal use.

"Lack of independence is difficult, and lack of income also limits my social life. I can meet my friends and talk with them, but nothing more. I can't afford to go out because it's too expensive."

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 May 2015 00:09