Zero hours Zero Humanity
The life of an activist who needs to make money to survive.
In order to support myself while fighting Brexit, I changed my profession once more and am now working full time as a freelance translator.
Some of the work I do is very creative, and I love translating novels and fascinating non-fiction.
But in order to get high volume translations, because my life doesn’t stop when a project ends, I still have to eat, find a place to sleep, pay for the bus and, yes, protest! I have to work for companies that treat translators like slaves.
I recognize the slave culture immediately because I used to work in an environment that treated highly skilled people like slaves. I wrote about it in my ‘Graveyards of the Banks’ books, based on my own experience. I’m still astonished at how few novels are set in this all too real work environment. Because so many of us live it, day by day.
So I know what to expect.
And what happens, once a whole group of people are summarily treated like slaves, given zero hour contracts, subjected to ‘quality checks’ whose only purpose is to take their money away, what happens when those decisions are made by low level staff who are just a little bit higher than the slaves but have almost absolute power over them, including the power to take their money away — what happens then is bullying.
Again, I lived this before, and I wrote about it.
Awareness of corporate bullying had changed, people said.
But for the many of us who work freelance in the gig economy, the bullying has just moved sideways. From corporate offices to freelance persecution. And so here I am, again, at the mercy of a few low level ‘petty tyrants’, who have almost endless power to torment me. They can force me to put in extra unpaid hours to ‘fix mistakes’ that weren’t there in the first place, and they can take work away from me without explanation ‘because of the work flow’.
Then, suddenly, they ask me to put in extra hours on a weekend ‘because of the work flow’.
They don’t need to explain their actions.
But because I need the money, in order to sleep, eat, etc., they rule my life.
The only thing that’s better than when I worked in the graphics centre at the bank is the fact that they are not actually there when I do the work.
But they make their presence felt, very much so, by emails and skype ‘sessions’ that are, of course, for me, unpaid. They have fixed salaries.
This affects many many of us.
And, again, I am stunned by how little we can do about it.
No, I can’t ‘just leave’. I need money to survive.
Just like I can’t ‘just leave Britain’.
And if I left, someone else would be tormented.
I despair that so little has changed.
I spent years writing my trilogy, ‘Graveyards of the Banks’. Maybe that’s the one thing I can do — leave my books behind.