Michaela Merz

The job market – not always a just cause

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Ivy was urged by her employer to take early retirement. Ivy didn’t want to, but her 35 years younger boss with a degree informed her that, if Ivy did not agree, they would probably have to dismiss her. Ivy’s boss said she must be aware that it was not her decision, but it came from the very top. She simply had to decrease head count by 10% and Ivy will be affected least, because she could in any case draw unemployment allowance until retirement.

Ivy didn’t want to go, she felt fit, carried her workload without difficulty, easily learned new systems. Ivy had little desire for a pensioner’s life. She had no grandchildren, only a grumpy husband and so anything was better than being at home alone with him. Ivy wanted to stay, but she didn’t know how to get help and also had no-one, with whom she could have discussed the question. Finally she gave in and took early retirement. Ivy still thought that her colleague Emre would never be able to cope with the work alone that they had done together, but she never spoke her thoughts out loud.

Then there was a farewell party, the insurance paid Ivy 36’000 out of the 3rd pillar and Ivy was annoyed that in the past she had not paid in more. She was very pleased with the 36’000, but she didn’t buy anything at all and put it aside where it didn’t earn any interest and slowly lost value due to the low inflation.

A month later Ivy’s telephone rang and her former boss asked Ivy whether she would be willing to help out, because Emre couldn’t keep up with the work. He had also broken his leg playing football and will be operated and remain at home for a few weeks. Ivy was happy and said yes, without thinking much about it. She had a contract with an hourly wage, which, believe it or not, was 40% less than her former wage. There was also a commitment that her workload may not exceed the coordination deduction for the Pension Fund, because her employer was not prepared to pay into the Pension Fund for her. In any case they had no insurances. Illness was her problem. She continued to do the same skilled work as before, learned another new system. She earned about 50 cents per hour more than the 20 year old student without any practice, who archived the papers.

Klara wanted to become a teacher for young children. For this purpose she needed an internship. She found the position very easily. It’s logical; which nursery would not want to recruit a highly motivated, responsible young woman interested in children for a year at a salary of 1,000 francs a month. Full-time of course.

Magda wanted to become a lawyer. To acquire an attorney’s licence she had to absolve an internship. The salary at the lawyer’s was lousy, her treatment unworthy, but Magda needed the internship and gritted her teeth.

Corinne wanted to become a teacher. She had already taught in private schools for a few years. She was liked by the children, successful and highly motivated. To acquire the diploma, she needed an internship. But the internship was unpaid. As Corinne had to finance the training herself, her weeks were incredibly long, filled with work from Monday to Sunday.

Jara cleans. She had 5 employers. Only one paid the AHV for her, the remaining jobs were without insurance, without vacations, without protection, without employment contract. But Jara was happy with the work. Since she has been alone with her son and her divorced husband often does not remit her alimony, she has been reliant on every franc.

I know a few similar stories and ask myself each time where is the contact point, to which such persons can turn. A place, where they can not only receive good advice, but really be efficienly helped. Where is the political party, which could address the issues of these non-organised, ill-informed employees? I think it is disgraceful that such stories exist in rich Switzerland, but honestly, in most cases I cannot help either.

Image source: S. Hofschlaeger  / pixelio.de

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