Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/759/16447
Sick Of Your Boss: young people in work - your stories
I'm a first-year student midwife at a Birmingham NHS trust. I was well aware of the realities of the job before I started the course, from the grave responsibility of ensuring mother and baby are alive and well, to dealing with abusive families and social services matters, to coming home drenched in all manner of bodily fluids.
I'd be truly thankful if the nature of the job was all that I had to come to grips with, but the environment where I work, along with millions of other NHS workers, heavily reflects the cuts that the current government claims are both necessary and admissible.
The delivery suite is permanently understaffed. Even when there are 'enough' midwives on shift (where everybody who was put down to work that day turns up) the staffing is never adequate to provide the care that women need and deserve.
One-to-one care is essential during labour, not just for the safety of mother and baby, but also to provide the reassurance and encouragement women need to accomplish the mammoth feat of giving birth.
How can midwives provide such a necessary service if their efforts have to be shared between three, four, five labouring women at a time?
The wellbeing of the mothers and babies we care for isn't the only thing at stake. Midwives are burning themselves out, as their high workload often means they don't get a toilet break, let alone a chance to take the lunch break they are entitled to by law.
As a result, long-term sick leave is at an all-time high, and I have no doubt that the stress of dealing with an often dangerous workload on a day-to-day basis is contributing to these rising figures.
This contributes further to the unavailability of midwives, and ultimately inadequate staffing levels, in a vicious circle.
In the run-up to Christmas I had a three month contract (in theory renewable) at a warehouse. About 100 of us worked there, over two shifts.
There were two basic jobs - pushing a trolley around the building to get a list of orders to fill, or spending a whole shift packing the orders and sending them off.
This was done next to the loading bay and sometimes the bay doors were open so these workers were freezing cold.
The warehouse was on an industrial estate between two towns - there are very few jobs in rural areas.
I used to get a lift to work and back, there were about ten people I could get a lift from when I started.
People would get sacked in the course of a shift, so sometimes I found my return lift gone when it came to leaving. By the end of my time there it was down to a couple of people for a lift.
In the warehouse the lighting was dim but the employer said there was no legal minimum. Sometimes the toilets were cleaned while we were having a break so we could not use the loo.
We were paid £6.40 an hour for 37.5 hours a week. But staff who came in via an agency got less and the agency seemed to get a cut of their wages. Quite a lot of people had to have another job as well.
Are you Sick Of Your Boss? Enough is enough!
We fight for:
- Decent tea and lunch breaks
- Proper contracts, guaranteed hours and full employment rights
- Pay us enough to live
- Stop the bosses 'fire at will' attitude
- We won't be used as cheap or free labour
- We have the right to get organised at work
- Scrap the anti-trade union laws
- Build democratic campaigning trade unions
- No to benefit cuts
In The Socialist 3 April 2013:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party workplace news
Fighting the Bedroom Tax
Socialist Party reports and campaigns