Thursday 22 September 2016

Currently reading: Google Maps

Long time no see, folks.
I just moved to Leeds last week. I know, surprise! The reason for the silence is that I've been and still am extremely busy, having a lot to sort out and many other things to do and hardly anyone but myself to rely on, and I haven't been reading anything but Google Maps- only got my student card on Monday and went to the library today to borrow another copy of The Confidence-Man
So, yeah... 
Regarding my new life in Leeds: 

I'm uploading the 1st photos of Leeds. You'll see them soon. 

Saturday 3 September 2016

The restaurant, the ex-boss, and a moment of schadenfreude [updated]

I've written 3 posts about my experience at the restaurant: 
I never translated the article I wrote and got published. To summarise, it has 5 main points: 
1/ Low pay. No tip, even in cash- everything goes to the boss.
The boss never gave us anything, even at Christmas and New Year. There were only 2 occasions: the 1st time was on her birthday, she gave each a piece of cake; the 2nd time was at Christmas, when there was a special sale of pepperkake, 1 kroner a box. 
2/ No rights. 
3/ No freedom. There are 4 cameras: the 1st one viewing the whole restaurant, the 2nd one pointing at the bar and the cash register, the 3rd one watching the kitchen and the 4th one for the area where people chop meat and vegetables. 
The boss watches her employees all the time, even when she's on vacation. 
The details of these 3 points were in my 1st post about the working conditions. 
4/ Lack of respect for employees. The boss doesn't respect people working for her. She never turns to violence, but scolding, insulting and humiliating are common, especially for the students working part-time. 
Once, the mobile phone used for accepting takeaway orders and table reservations was lost at the end of the day. It's a crappy phone that nobody would bother to take, cheaper than our own phones. The next day, whilst people assumed it could have been accidentally swept into a waste basket and lost, the boss went around saying loudly that it was certainly stolen, and accused 2 persons of stealing who were present the day the phone was lost but absent that day and unable to defend themselves. 
5/ The boss only thinks about her own gains. In the article I only told 3 stories: 
- Once, some time before Tết, the boss got as gift a box of cookies, which she put on display at the restaurant for decoration. A woman, some kind of manager just below her in power, opened the box and let the employees eat. That evening, I saw the boss phone the woman to scold her- why did you open the box? who told you? that box was for decorating the restaurant, if it expires then throw it away, who told you to let them eat, etc. 
- There were 2 exchange students who registered for a Norwegian-language class, twice a week. The 2nd day was on a Wednesday. The boss whined, why learn Norwegian when the restaurant didn't have enough workers. Finally, as though coming to Norway to work in a restaurant instead of studying, those 2 students had to skip a few classes in order to take turns to work on Wednesdays. That time it was none of my business but I jumped in because there was actually a girl, working full-time, who was free on Wednesday and didn't have to do anything. I asked why not ask her to switch because the Norwegian course was temporary and it was a class, whereas that girl didn't have to do anything, it just happened to be her day off. However, the 2 students were not me, they agreed, and that's that. 
- The 3rd incident was some time before I quit. Back then, I worked as a waitress and a cashier. 1 time, when the cash register was transferred from a man to me, I discovered that there was a difference in over 400 kroner between the cash I counted and the amount in the system. I could have been a mess at waitressing, but never screwed up at the cash register, but that man sometimes did, and we often covered up for him- however, because it was such a large amount, I had to tell the boss. It turned out that he made a mistake in inserting an amount, and instead of pressing "retur" to fix it, he inserted it again and doubled the mistake. In other words, no money was actually lost. What he could have done was to press "retur" to delete the whole amount. For fear of getting trouble with the tax agency and being accused of using "retur" to take money for herself, the boss insisted on him taking money from his own pockets to make the amount the same as in the system. I stress again, the money wasn't really lost, but she forced the man to do so. 
The amount was about more than 3 times as much as his pay per hour. 
I would have fought to the end (within the time working at the restaurant, I challenged the boss at least 3 times). He didn't. He acquiesced. 
I write about these incidents to let you see that my ex-boss isn't an ordinary exploiter, which is typical for immigrant restaurant owners. She's a special case. One may even see her as an interesting case study, if not for her pettiness, stinginess and cruelty. 
My 2 blog posts in August were updates on what happened after my article. My friend, who started working there together with me and stayed after I quit, has been working nonstop, without a day off, since 25/7 for lack of workers. When I went out with her on Tuesday, 23/8, she told me that, after working every day for a long time, she worked for 11 hours and a half on Sunday (21/8), and on Monday (22/8). We hung out for some hours, then she went to work. Even now, she hasn't had a day off, since the last day off on 25/7. Today is 3/9, you make the calculations. 
I asked my friend if she could at least get overtidtillegg (extra pay when one exceeds the limit of working hours), she asked "Do you seriously think there is overtidtillegg at that woman's restaurant?". Don't ask me how the bitch evades the law, I have no idea. 
Not only so, recently my friend told me that she asked the bitch to send her salary early to pay the rent. It didn't come. My friend texted to remind her, and got no response till the next day, and from the looks of it, would get her money next week. She also said once the woman that managed things asked about a late pay, and the shameless bitch asked "Why do you love money so much?". 
(At this point, your question is why my friend continues working there. It's difficult for her to get another job, having no formal training in restaurant work, and even though she speaks better Norwegian than I do, she's very shy, so shy that she works inside, cutting vegetables, preparing food and making starters, rather than meet people. Besides, as she works all the time, it's impossible to go anywhere to ask for another job). 
Now you see why I use the word "the bitch". It is justifiable. 
However, here are the news I've just got lately: 
1/ The bitch has just had some kind of trouble with the tax agency. She probably has to pay some fines. I don't know the details, that information comes from 1 of the waitresses, who, by the way, has been working since February without a contract. 
2/ After me, some other people also quit. 1 of the cooks transferred to another restaurant. 
3/ Lately, the bitch can't hire anyone. I don't know if it's her luck, or 1 of the effects of my article, but she can't find anyone working for her. 
4/ Mattilsynet (Norwegian Food Safety Authority) have just come for a check-up, and given the restaurant a sad face :( 
I don't particularly like revealing the name of the restaurant, but here is proof
The other restaurant of the same boss seems to do better, but the last result :) was in April, and after 1 :( and 2 :| 
According to 1 of the waitresses at the other restaurant, the boss said there were complaints in the papers about bad service, but because she didn't say which newspaper, it could have been a lie she made up to scold her employees. 
5/ There's some trouble between the bitch and her young boyfriend, whom we often call her gigolo or toyboy, not only because he's nearly 20 years younger but also because he is unemployed, lives on social benefits for people with mental health (he once stabbed someone, or so the rumour says) and she treats him with contempt. Again, it's hearsay, so I don't know, but apparently the man stole some money and jewellery, so it's quite a big deal now, involving the police and the court and all that. 
These things are nothing compared to what she has done, but allow me to be childish and have a moment of schadenfreude. I don't have 1 bit of guilt. 


Update on 6/9/2016: 
In Norway there's something called feriepenger (ferie= holiday; penger= money), which is money that employers have to pay employees for the summer holiday and which is typically paid before holiday, for example, in June. 
It is now September, the summer is over, and the bitch hasn't paid feriepenger to anyone except a Bulgarian woman who, after asking many times, mentioned the law and threatened to sue, and me. 
My hard-working friend hasn't got her feriepenger. Her salary went into the account yesterday. Not only was it late and without overtidtillegg even though my friend had been working every day for over a month, but the salary was also 1000 kroner short, apparently because of fears of some issues with the tax agency, according to my friend. The bitch said, that 1000 kroner would be added to next month. 
You'd think a person like that sounds more like a caricature in a novel.