This morning, rudely awakened at around 5 am, by a lot of noise! Cars and vans and people shouting in the street, which is normally peaceful and quiet. It was strange to hear this on a ‘no through road’. So, putting on my security camera and another family member going out to see what it was all about.

Turned out that it was some sort of row between a Polish worker and money owed. They had followed him here and were rowing in the street (yes at just after 5am) with no regard whatsoever for people who were still asleep. 

He apparently owed money and the ‘heavy mob’ had arrived, made sure he could not drive off to demand (read force) repayment. Bit like some sort of wild-west story.

But with every story comes food for thought and I thought I would write today about people from Eastern European countries who go to other countries to work and how they are exploited by the so called ‘subcontractors’. By subcontractors I mean the people who hire these people to come and work here for a very low wage I would also add. Set them up with old unreliable cars and accommodation which is expensive and they have to pay for that too, just to do the jobs that Western Europeans don’t want to do.  It is fair I think to say that the economy between west and east Europe is very different and I get the idea that coming to work elsewhere to earn money for your families when you can’t get employment there, is honorable.

However, there is always a problem. The exploitation and the fact that said subcontractors rent houses (usually holiday homes) quite cheaply and then cram pack them full of these people asking exorbitant rent for just a small room with bed. They begin early, get home late and then get drunk all weekend. What a life!  But we all need to remind ourselves that all European citizens have the right to be treated equally, not exploited.

It seems strange to me that people (Dutch) here get a considerable benefit for being unemployed and are basically too lazy to get another job. Not all, but a large number! And then people are brought in from other countries to do the ‘dirty work’. Not literally dirty but the jobs other people think are below their status. Crazy world, isn’t it? I have no problem really with them being here, just as long as they take others into consideration and being drunk and rowdy all weekend is not one of the things. They cause a lot of people problems with their behavior.

Local Governments are trying desperately to ensure that these workers are housed where they work. Some local farmers here have done just that and built either Tiny Houses or containers where they can live and relax after work. It is more respectful I feel taking responsibility for the people who work and basically earn the farmers money by helping, for example, with the harvesting of crops. But for every good farmer or employer there are the baddies too of course. Those who still consider these workers to be less than the rest. So where does the problem lie?

Well as far as the housing and putting them into holiday homes is a disaster. The subcontracts rent the house for a certain amount and then charge the ‘inhabitants’ about three times that amount. But shouldn’t we be looking at the owners of said houses and the reason why they rent them out in the first place? It also has a very negative effect on the people who live in their holiday homes and tourists who visit and trip up over all the empty beer cans and bottles after a weekend session.

It just seems so unfair to me that the subcontractors are the winners all the time. They have work, employ people who are desperate to earn money, whatever the work is, and then exploit them to such lengths. This has nothing more to do with European human rights, does it? Or the basis law either!

I must admit I was irritated being woken up so early, especially on the dark winter mornings, but every cloud always has a silver lining and something positive and being up much earlier than usual enabled me to do all sorts of things and gave me the time to write this blog.

To me the moral of this story is respect. Respect for all human beings, whatever their color, race, creed, or nationality. The contractors are the exploiters, not all but unfortunately a lot. Treat the people who work for you in a more humane way, be glad that they were willing to leave their countries and families to come and work for you. Why? Well simple, just to be able to earn money to support their families.  We are very ready to always point the finger at people we consider to be less than us … but are we actually pointing in the right direction?

In the end, I felt sorry for the Polish man this morning, who hardly speaks the lingo apart from a few words, being treated like that and shouted at by the ‘heavy mob’ this morning. Wouldn’t all be a lot easier to have a normal conversation at the workplace, in a normal tone of voice. Sure, it’s one of life’s rules that you must pay for things you want or use for whatever reason, but this is not the wild west and we don’t need these ‘bandits’ rushing around in our streets behaving in this way. 

Food for thought!

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Jill Kramer

Hi! I'm Jill and I'm a passionate author of books, short stories, columns and blogs.

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