Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 1 April 2009

The grim reality of job-hunting

Mary and her fiancé John spoke to The Socialist about their experiences of trying to find a decent job in London. Behind the growing youth unemployment figures are huge problems with the type of work that is available.

"How come there is so much support for businesses and not for people? It's true that there are jobs out there but there are also a lot of scams.

Employers say to you that you're not experienced enough or that you don't have enough qualifications and that you've got to do some 'training time' ie up to two weeks working for free. This is what happened to me when I got work taking restaurant bookings over the phone.

Despite the fact that I have events organising experience I was then told that the 'training rate' was two weeks of working for five days and getting paid for three. It was only out of sheer desperation that I stayed on. I expected that I would then get five days pay at the minimum wage rate.

Imagine how sick I felt when my employer explained to me that he had had an intervention from God, who suggested that he pay me the full wage I was due after three months rather than the six months he was thinking of! He told me that there were students who needed experience and were willing to work for him for free and that I should consider myself lucky. I considered myself in need of a new job!

Training rates

With computer experience I soon got an IT training job with a government-funded initiative. Imagine how I felt when I was asked to work for free for two to three weeks to 'see if I liked it' and to ascertain what rate I should be on! I was then given forty hours a week including a couple of twelve-hour shifts and paid £700 a month, less than the minimum wage. To subsidise this I spent my days off selling bread, phone cards, anything I could do to help make ends meet.

Not having a proper job that I could survive on and the sense that I was being taken advantage of made me feel ashamed. Things got worse and worse. My fiancé was taken on and I was encouraged to try for some qualifications but John wasn't paid and I never got my qualifications. When we tried to demand our pay we were told not to come back. We didn't know our rights, weren't in a union and felt we had no way to defend ourselves.

Suddenly we were desperate. I had been staying with John's family but when we had no money coming in they started to get resentful of us. We were desperately trying to get work but could find nothing meaningful.

John was doing charity collecting but was only getting three days a week work and was only able to bring in £100 a week. You have to pay £40 for the charity collector equipment, work 10am to 6pm outside on your feet, and have to search for places to use the toilet.

Frustrations at home escalated and John's father attacked me and we had to leave. We found ourselves jobless, homeless and desperate. The police said they had no resources to help us. Eventually the Salvation Army helped us out. Since then we have again been looking for work - but there's not much out there.

All the Jobcentres carry Loot magazines but they are full of so-called OTE jobs. These are scams. They offer 'up to £30,000' or some such fantastic sounding opportunity but OTE means it's a commission-based job. It is really hard to make enough money to survive selling expensive bottles of perfume on the streets, let alone to live a decent life. Some of the ads ask you to text for information, and you then get charged extortionately for the texts.

Even the Jobpoint machines in the Jobcentre spit out OTE jobs. One for a 'field sales consultant' promises £47,000 OTE per annum, but then goes on to mention 'a brief period of self employment usually 3 to 4 weeks maximum' when, of course, you are not even subject to the minimum wage.

How many people can last that long without a guaranteed income? Not many. If you do last it you can look forward to 'a basic salary' with 'great commission' if you're lucky."

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • We must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation £


Your message: 


In The Socialist 1 April 2009:

The G20 leaders have no solution to the crisis...

Fight for a future!

Youth Fight for Jobs conference

Why I'm marching

The grim reality of job-hunting

G20 protests

G20 Summit: Capitalism facing 'make or break'

Free market system killing our planet

UEL clampdown

Bail out workers, not Wall Street!

Socialist Party workplace news

Visteon workers occupy Belfast factory

Construction workers' protests continue

Socialist stands in Aslef leadership elections

College teachers strike in Eastbourne

Unison needs a fighting leadership: Leeds City Council

Whipps Cross Hospital

Unison elections

Socialist Party Marxist analysis

Economic crisis turning into political action

Socialist Party election campaign

No2EU - Yes to Democracy

Dave Nellist on the Politics Show

Socialist Party campaigns

Poor hit by price rises

No to privatised polyclinics

Gordon Brown meets the bankers

Sack the bankers not the workers!

Fast News

International socialist news and analysis

Now that the profits are drying up in the Indian software industry

Sweden: Socialist councillor viciously assaulted by Nazis


Home   |   The Socialist 1 April 2009   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleTV review: This is Going to Hurt

triangleJust Eat couriers continue action to fight pay cut

triangleUniversity workers continue strike against bosses' attacks

triangleTube workers strike in defence of pay, pensions and conditions

triangleJohnson scraps Covid safety measures


triangleTesco slashes jobs and customer service

triangleTories attack UC recipients with 'get any job' threat

triangleTheatre: Yes Yes UCS

triangle10,000 tube workers vote to strike over jobs, terms and pension cuts

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Restore Cardiff's slashed services



Just Eat couriers continue action to fight pay cut



University workers continue strike against bosses' attacks



Tube workers strike in defence of pay, pensions and conditions



Workers and students unite and fight



Fighting fees and marketisation after 2 March student walkout



Brighton Green and Labour cuts - workers and communities fight back



Surrey: Unions and campaigns say stand as an anti-cuts candidate



Newham City Farm - closed with no consultation



London Socialist Party women's meeting



1 March: Socialist Party new website launch



Coventry bin strikers lobby strike-breaking Labour council



Scunny scaffs action forces bosses to the table



Usdaw: 'Reinstate Max' week of action



Trade union support for standing anti-cuts election candidates

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 077 7221 5281

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793



Alphabetical listing

July 2022

June 2022

May 2022

April 2022

March 2022

February 2022

January 2022