Whatever happened to secure full-time work?
2019-02-01 00:00:00 -

Mariaam Bhatti: Tales of a Domestic Worker


I learned recently that the younger generation, my age and below, is likely to have had 20 jobs by the time they retire. I also learned that getting a mortgage is increasingly difficult for younger people, with a 20 per cent deposit often mandatory for first-time buyers in addition to holding a secure job: something that most lenders want to see and something for which the current nature of working doesn’t always provide the privilege.


This is not something that people in low-paid work such as carers and other domestic workers can easily achieve in Ireland in their lifetime. Besides, even simple things such as payslips or up-to-date Revenue statements don’t exist for many in this cohort, particularly those employed directly in the home.


Employment nowadays is a ‘gig economy’, based on freelancing, fixed-term funding and short-term contracts. Since 2003 I have never had an employment contract longer than a year, even since achieving a higher level of education.


Meanwhile, an other report I read recently, from the ESRI, says people of African descent in Ireland have a higher rate of unemployment or underemployment compared to other migrants.


While this is hardly news to me and many other Africans I know, as we live the struggles of not easily getting interview opportunities or career progression in general, I wondered how things could be improved, and what it might take.


A combination of the above can certainly push one towards despair but there is not much point in worrying about things that we have no control over, is there? What is important is to keep doing what is right and giving those interviews our best.


It is also important to start exploring other sectors outside our usual interest. For example, I have spent most of my time applying for jobs in the areas along social justice, community work, human rights and youth work, but lately I have started thinking it is possible to apply to educational institutions or tech companies, or even the train driver jobs that were advertised recently. Who knows?


I am not sure what the solution would be but exploring other sectors that offer job security is a good start. It is not to say abandon one’s calling but it’s possible to find something related or where one’s transferable skills could be of use in less obvious sectors.


Based on my earnings, apart from spending most of my money investing in education, I’ve never imagined myself ever qualifying for or owning a house in Ireland.


So last week, worried about not having anything to my name at almost 40, I contacted an estate agent in South Africa and enquired about requirements for a mortgage there, just in case I stood a chance.


It’s even worse. To my shock, they require a 50 per cent deposit from people who work outside the country.


What I know is that I do want to have a proper rest when I am older. I wouldn’t want to be still chasing after six-month or 12-month contracts. It’s hard to live and plan things when always looking over your shoulder. It’s also hard to build any financial credit for the future. But that’s just the way things are.


Mariaam Bhatti is a member of the Domestic Workers Action Group and Force Labour Action Group of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland

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