Belfast Telegraph

I know all too well the anguish of losing a job

By Nuala McKeever

I sure do feel sorry for the nearly 800 men and women who're going to lose their jobs at FG Wilson. Apart from the way in which the deal's been done, just the very fact of it is very difficult for individuals and their families.

When I worked in the BBC years ago, I went through a phase where I kept losing my job. In a variety of ways.

Either the post was scrapped, the programme ended, they upgraded the job and I couldn't even apply, or the whole department closed down. A girl could've started to wonder if there was something personal going on ...

But I clearly remember that sick feeling in the gut, being brought into an office to be told that all that security, the pay cheque each week or month, was going to disappear. Don't think I ever got used to it.

As a freelancer for many years, I've almost learned to accept the insecurity of sporadic employment.

The highs and lows, the gluts and deserts of work. Somehow, over the long term, things even out and one gets by. But for someone who's been in steady work suddenly to find themselves on the dole is just horrible.

Is this the only way we can organise our economy here? Are we simply going to put up with being caught up in the whole globalisation of work?

Are we just going to accept that huge multinational corporations with no loyalty to us or our country are entitled to swoop in, take what suits and then clear off to cheaper climes as and when the market dictates?

Who does this market work for? Not us. Not the ordinary people. We are subject to the whims and vagaries of global supply and demand, with no ability to dictate anything. Is this what we want?

At the root of it all, we mostly work to earn money to buy things to make our lives comfortable. Some people love what they do, some aren't fussed.

But most people need income in order to live. Money is the system we use to trade what we've got, our skills, our time, for what we want - goods and services.

When there's lots of money around, the system works. But what happens when money is scarce?

Normally it means our access to goods and services is highly curtailed. But does it have to?

Just because there's not much money doesn't mean we don't have the same skills and talents. There are so many resources in the streets and towns and cities we live in. We have so much to offer each other.

This is a good time to realise the value of ourselves and to start sharing our talents, exchanging what we can do for others for what they can do for us.

Instead of working to make money to buy stuff to take our minds off the work we don't like, how about a different mindset?

How about starting to take time to share with each other? Cars, tools, stories, baking skills, clothes-making skills, entertainment, hairdressing, sports coaching, creativity, literacy and numeracy skills, fun.

The worst thing a person loses when they lose their job, is their sense of identity as a valuable, worthwhile member of society. It's easy to feel isolated, the world's for others not for me, I'm a failure.

We're not failures. We just need a better system.

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