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Archive for the tag “exploitation”

Piece rate piss take…

Having been made redundant a few years back and being the wrong side of 55, there’s little chance of me ever getting back into full time employment in an economy that’s stagnating. So I make do as best I can by working part time as a self employed door to door leaflet distributor. Quite often I get hourly paid work – although the rate of pay isn’t brilliant, I’m given the leaflets, a map, a deadline and I’m trusted to get on with the job without any interference which suits me fine.

I used to fill in with some piece rate delivery work when the hourly paid work didn’t materialise. Suffice to say I don’t any more because there’s a limit to how much shite one person can be expected to put up with. Here’s why I won’t touch piece rate work any more…

The current going rate is £30 per thousand leaflets delivered. If you can deliver 250 plus leaflets an hour, you can get just above the national minimum wage. However, when you’re in a bog standard suburban area sodding around with gates, dodging badly parked cars and thoughtlessly placed dustbins, a rate of 185 per hour is the norm. Not to mention the dogs silently lurking behind the letterbox… But that’s not all – the customer wanted four leaflets delivered to each household. Those leaflets had to be collated and bundled and that took time – up to four hours in some cases.

Then there was the paperwork and the admin…suffice to say the people I used to work for were about the most anal, untrusting pair you could possibly meet. Firstly, I had to phone in before each shift to let them know where I was starting and at what time. They also wanted me to fill in a form with every road I’d done and a note of the house numbers as well. When I was working in an area for the first time, having to make a note of the house numbers in every sodding street was a time consuming pain in the butt! Not only did they want the forms sent to them at the end of the job, they wanted me to phone in at the end of each day to verbally report what I had done. It gets worse…they also phoned me up in the middle of my shift to ask for a report of what I’d done so far…

Here’s the real kicker. If I had to take a break whether it was for a bite to eat or to have a piss, I had to phone in to let them know and then phone in again when I restarted the job. They were on an 0800 number so that started to cost. Since I quit working for them, I’ve found out they now track their distributors using GPS so they can find out where they are at any time. No prizes for guessing that the distributors are expected to provide their own GPS enabled phones!

Now when I was getting paid piece rate, while there wasn’t a lot I could do about the time I spent on collating, bundling, route planning and paperwork, when I hit the streets, I aimed to do the round in the quickest and most efficient way possible. Which meant, wherever possible, roads full of detached houses with long driveways got put to the bottom of the priority list in the hope that I would have run out of leaflets before I got to them. On one job, yours truly leafleted an area of 1950s suburban housing in Rainham which was built to a reasonable density where I reached an average of 185 deliveries an hour. However, to get to these roads, I had to walk along a main road lined with low density houses and bungalows, all detached and with long driveways – didn’t do them as it would taken too long and as I was getting paid piece rate, it wasn’t worth the effort for the pittance I was getting.

The day after on the way into work, I got a phone call from the customer asking why I didn’t leaflet the main road with the detached houses, bungalows and long driveways. Telling the truth – you’re paying me a sodding pittance and if you think I’m going to waste my time trudging up and down long driveways, you’ve got another think coming – wasn’t exactly an option at the time. It was a case of thinking on my feet and managing in that case to bullshit my way out of it by explaining that I wasn’t given enough leaflets to cover the area I was allocated! Suffice to say, that was the last job I did for that shower…

Seriously, this is what it’s like at the murkier end of the self employment spectrum where customers routinely take the piss because they think you actually enjoy slogging up and down endless driveways in low density housing areas. No, we’re only doing this because most other employment options have been closed off… Yet the attitude seems to be that if you want any kind of work, regardless of how menial and low paid it is, you’re required to not just turn up and do your shift but to be pathetically grateful for it and to put your heart and soul into being exploited. Along with this is the growing disconnect between the amount of graft you have to put it, how much of your soul you have to sell to the job and the money you get paid for it – considerably more of the former is expected for a decreasing amount of the latter!



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