An English dialogue between two English friends.
Gregory and Martin are discussing some problems of homeless people in London.
Gregory: When I was jogging this morning, Russell Square Gardens was empty except for three middle-aged men dozing on benches.
Martin: Were they actually lying there?
G.: Oh, no. They knew better. To avoid being detained by patrolmen, they were sitting with legs outstretched and eyes closed.
M.: So if a policeman addressed them, they would just pretend they sat down for a while for a short rest.
G.: They must be homeless.
M.: Looks like it. By the way, did you know the London homeless publish a paper of their own and sell it at 50p a copy?
G.: No, I didn’t know that. Is there a way out for them?
G.: I think you’re right. Not far from the bench where one of them was sitting, I picked up a job application form. They must have taken it from a company, read it and thrown it out.
G.: They must have realized at once that the job was not for them. There were questions there like
WHAT IS YOUR PRESENT ADDRESS?
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED THERE?
DO YOU HOLD A VALID DRIVING LICENCE?
REFERENCES (not from former employers or relatives)
EMPLOYMENT HISTORY (Starting with Present Employer)
So what can the poor fellow do if he has no permanent abode, to say nothing of a car or references? It’s hopeless for them, isn’t it? No job and no prospect?
M.: Afraid so. Young workers may get reskilled. But when you are no longer young and strong, once you have lost a job, you don’t stand much chance of getting another one. To make matters worse, you are a man of no fi xed abode at that. Such people stop looking for work.
G.: I also found there a slip with the address of Kilburn unemployment benefit office and the telephone number of a Social Fund Section. So they could be on the dole, couldn’t they?
M.: Yes, they may be drawing unemployment benefit. But the dole isn’t paid for long. Incapacity benefit is. People like that live well below the poverty line. Some of them even scavenge for food in dustbins. Food taken from rubbish dumps is not good for health.
G.: Very few jobs are created nowadays. Plenty of factory closures have been reported. For the most part, businesses shrivel up and shed jobs, falling prey to the recession. Jobs nowadays are hard to come by.
M.: Yes, lots of jobs are lost. Unemployment is on the rise. Unemployment rate has practically reached an all-time high. Unemployment tally has climbed to double digits. What’s even worse, more job losses are in the pipeline. The gap between the rich and the poor is widening. By the by, did you know that besides full unemployment there is partial unemployment?
G.: What’s that?
M.: Partial unemployment or underemployment means that a person has to make do with few hours’ work. It is a way to avoid or put off downsizing.
G.: And what is ‘downsizing’?
M.: Cutting back on production plus redundancy sackings. Partial unemployment means jobsharing, oft en accompanied by working irregular hours or fl exitime.
G.: What do you mean by ‘jobsharing’?
M.: When instead of having a full time job, a real job on their hands, two people share the same job. In effect, that means pay cuts, placing people on partial pay.