Archive for UK

Manifestum of an unemployed teacher

Posted in Life, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 6, 2009 by Silvia

Today, one more time, I started looking for a job.Once again; how many times did I do it in the last two years?

It’s not because my Book Tour started today; it has no particular reason related to the job I do nowadays – it’s because my bank account fell disastrously to zero, it’s because I owe already more than I earn in one month. And I already reduced my expenses to the absolutely indispensable.

My mom told me yesterday, when I was talking with her in the phone, as I do every weekend: “Oh, Silvia, if it was to get in the situation you are now, you should have staid in Portugal!” Dear mom! One one hand, she has a point – in Portugal, I had a free house (my father’s house) and a permanent well-paid job as a teacher. “But, mom! If I had staid in Portugal, I would never have published a book as I did here! My husband would never be able to get a job (he was considered too old to work, at 38) and would never have been allowed to be studying again! I wouldn’t be studying too and, worst of all, the children wouldn’t have a future!” Tough choice, isn’t it?!

“But, Silvia! For example, this week Miguel Sousa Tavares published a book!”

“Dear mom, give it a thought! Who is Miguel Sousa Tavares?” I know, he is an excellent writer – no-one ever puts that in question – but would he ever publish a book in Portugal if he wasn’t already famous?…

I love to teach

I love to teach

I know! How hard is it to understand and sometimes it is even painful to think about it. I’m a teacher. In the UK, the Teacher is the “Most wanted profession”. There is such a lack of teachers that they are producing “fast-track” ones to fill the vacancies, with six months to one year of training. I have a five years Degree, with specialization in Education, and I just can’t find a job as a teacher! I’m qualified in Modern Languages and Literature, fluent in English, French, Portuguese and Latin, sixteen years of experience, approved by the NARIC and fully registered in the GTCE and no-one gives me a chance.

What?… Am I ugly? I’m asking this because there were schools that asked for a photograph with the application form… I didn’t know that one needs to be a top-model in order to teach Latin!

Am I a criminal, someone who can’t approach children or vulnerable adults? No! I have clean police checks from the UK, including Scotland, and from Portugal. I never in my life did any wrong to anyone and I even have participation in several charity and cooperation activities.

No. I’m not selling my position. Sometimes I have doubts about my willing to go on being a teacher in those “terms and conditions”. I’m just letting the injustice and the grief out of my heart.

Someone recently asked me why I published my book. Why here?… Why now?…I didn’t come to England with the slightest intention  of publishing a book – it’s the absolute truth – but when I was looking for a job (this time as a teaching assistant!) I was told (how many times?): “We can’t give you this job, because, you understand, we can’t be sure that you know enough English to teach!” When I tried to do a training course, in an University, I was told: “As a foreigner, you couldn’t write an whole essay in English!”

OK! Discriminative reasons, but still I can understand the feelings behind them.

But now, what is happening? “Turn your talents into teaching” advertising is passing on TV on and on. I applied.  “No, you can’t do it! You are already qualified to teach any subject at any level.” This was the answer of the TDA. A dead end.

I was then asked for letters, written and stamped by the Boarding Directions of every school where I worked. I contacted the schools. The answer from the British schools where I worked was (quite reasonable indeed) “We can’t write references for someone who worked here just one day or two days!” In Portugal, it isn’t done because a teacher  isn’t an employee of a school. The employer there is the Ministry of Education, not the schools. And the Ministry kindly provided all the documents it could.

So, am I being penalized for being a foreigner or not?!

To be a teacher in the UK, I would need experience in the UK. “Thirty days at least”, they say. I can’t have experience, if no-one gives me the chance to work.

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UK workers are losing rights

Posted in news, Uncategorized with tags , , on June 12, 2009 by Silvia

“Tory MPs are continuing to promote a Bill to abolish the minimum wage, which is due to be debated tomorrow.”

Yesterday, I was asking a Union representative: “What about the Minimum Wage? What’s going to happen?” He just answered: ” You’re not in the Minimum Wage, so you don’t need to worry about it!”  “So, what was that propaganda all about? Just a strategy to earn votes?” – I asked. He replied: “Oh, they always do that.” Without wanting to question the Union’s strategy (I think the Unions are of major importance in any economy, to protect the workers of all kind of abuses), I must question this position and this kind of answers. I don’t mind that one answer is given to avoid a long sequence of explanations, and I think this is the case. But it’s a wrong philosophy. The Unions must be like the Musketeers, if they want to win – “All for one and one for all!” Even if I’m not earning the Minimum Wage, I must be concerned about the ones who are.

Commuter Chaos As RMT Workers Bring London Underground To A Standstill

 The Minimum Wage is a right of every worker. It is a prevention against the exploitation of the human being by unscrupulous employers – and there are so many, you can’t imagine.  Its abolition will allow this kind of exploitation to grow to an unprecedented level. A job will be given to the one who is disposed to work for two pounds, rather to the one who works for five. Due to the competition, all wages will consequently lower. As many people know and is very well informed by the JobCentre, the earnings in benefits may consequently be higher than the wages paid for working. So, many people will opt for staying at home instead of going to work and earning less. It will be another shock to the economy, and one very difficult to turn around. So, the ones who think that it will increase competitivity are wrong. Once more, I must quote the example of my country, Portugal. There, the Minimum Wage wasn’t abolished (but it’s not even worth to go through the trouble, because it is already a misery), but the employers still wanted to pay less or not to pay at all. So, they recurred to illegal workers, who, due to their conditions, work for any price. The Portuguese Minister of Economy went to China, trying to attract Chinese investors to the country, and his strongest argument was: “Portugal has a very competitive economy, because the wages are low.” The Portuguese, for the first time aware of the Governments’ strategy, almost got in shock with this statement and there were riots.

 Commuter Chaos As RMT Workers Bring London Underground To A Standstill

Another example I must quote, and which I referred to the Union when this debate concerning the Minimum Wage started: we are not paid for our breaks, even though we must remain in the workplace and many times we don’t even have breaks at all; we are not entitled to sickness payment, unless we suffer a terrible accident in the workplace, we are not entitled to Holiday allowance or to what they call the 13 month, we don’t have even a “meal allowance”. Losing the Minimum Wage means the loss of the last of the low-paid worker’s right, and this will have strong psychological effects on motivation, which is a factor that has a heavy weight on a company’s success.

So, is it worth it?…