KAJ Flanders: Stop the Train of Temporary Work Abuses

“Terminus Interim. Stop the train of interim-abuses." This was the title of the publicalt activity organized by KAJ (Flanders YCW) in Ostende with the presence of leaders from different regions. The aim of the event was to denounce the reality and violence suffered by young people who are seeking for jobs in temporary work agencies and see their dreams and expectations vanish into thin air.

Most of those young people have just graduated from secondary school or university, they are drop-outs, or have low skills, and they turn to temporary work agencies to help them find a job. In many cases, they face difficulties when they have to deal with the agencies, and KAJ wants to draw the attention of the society, the political authorities, the trade unions and the temporary work agencies themselves. They have reached the local and national press to explain their objectives and present the reality of young workers. KAJ carried out a survey, asking several young people about their reality, and it started to organize actions, including the June 2 event.

The IYCW International Secretariat participated in the action in Ostende. Arlindo de Oliveira (the international treasurer) was there and collected some testimonies from young people explaining their main problems.

 Young Workers Under Pressure

Riensje, a KAJ regional coordinator, and other young activists responsible for the activity in Ostende said: “People who leave school have difficulty in finding a job. They feel pressure. First of all from the agencies when they say you don't have the skills to work for them. So you go back home but when you get there sometimes your family doesn’t believe you and say you are not looking for a job, or just like the agencies they question your capacities. It definitively doesn't help us, it doesn't motivate us.”

Every Challenge Provides an Opportunity

You may know the story of a king of ancient times. He wanted to know how his people would react when faced with a challenge or obstacle. Therefore, the king placed a huge rock (boulder) on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none of them did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying on the road where the huge rock had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.

Here in this story, the peasant noticed the obstacle or challenge (the huge rock), he did not walk simply around the obstacle, did not blame the king, did not run away from the obstacle but pushed the rock to the side of the road after so many efforts and finally got the gold coins. This story could be taken as a classical example of how a challenge can provide an opportunity to improve our working and living conditions.