Summer, Work, Dignity!

‘At last, summer is here again!’ – Who knows how many students have uttered this expression! Usually students do not say this phrase on the 21st of June when summer officially starts, but rather on the last day of their examinations. Even though seasons define the different phases of the year, our lifestyle dictates these phases depending on that which we are engaged in.  Students usually follow the school’s or the university’s calendar.  Such calendar expects students to ‘isolate’ themselves in their parent’s house or at some library during the examination period.

During this time they are expected to give up the fun they usually enjoy during the weekend. And this is all done in the hope of putting their mind to study. When you’re a student you have to keep reminding yourself that there are periods during the calendar year when you have to give up anything which makes life worth living! Some young males even leave their beard to grow wide during the examinations period and they do so to remind themselves that this is a time of hard work only! It’s funny how life is – it seems that if we don’t do the necessary sacrifices we won’t be entitled to some enjoyment.  The end of a scholastic year is always hard, and studying in Malta’s summer makes things even more difficult! Indeed, many are those students who during this period, from that corner in their bedroom, pray God to help then pass these last exams even if by a mere pass mark.

And when the exams are over, like a bird coming out of a cage, you would head out of the door, go for your first swim and then off to your first summer party.  But more often than not, after a while you will also get fed-up with partying every evening or so. Perhaps the last saving of your stipends will also have reached pit-bottom and, how many times would you continue asking your parents to give you some money? At the end you would have to roll up your sleeves and look for a summer job! You start asking your friends what kind of job they’d have found for this summer… whilst chatting with your cousin you’ll take the opportunity to ask her if she’s has found such work.  And the first time you meet your brother-in-law you will make sure to ask him if his company is accepting applications for summer jobs, in order to send your CV. Usually enthusiasm leads to results and so probably your efforts would yield some fruit at some point in summer.

At this stage there are very important details, which many youth who work only during summer, fail to notice!  And these are the conditions of employment. The truth is that even if one intends to keep this job only for summer, that is, for only a short and fixed period of time; you still have your dignity and rights which should not be put at stake. In this short article I am not giving my opinion on ‘precarious work’, a topic which everyone is talking about or rather trying to discuss…I’m afraid that this time I don’t have the space and time to do it. But this doesn’t mean that youth should let go and accept anything they are offered with the excuse of this being only a summer job!  Even if this will not turn out to be your career, you still have to see that: you are adequately paid – not less than that stipulated by law; you are given the right conditions such as pro-rate leave according to law; you are paid by cheque or a bank transfer, and not through vouchers or material objects; you are given the right equipment to work with; your health-and-safety are being protected; you are given the necessary rest between one day of work and another, and above all assure that your dignity as a human being is respected.

One might question, ‘but what is exactly the worker’s dignity on work?’ My answer is when someone at work tries to taint this dignity you will soon realise what it’s all about!! And I’m saying this because I’m sure that everyone realises when his/her work and effort is appreciated and valued….Your respect and dignity as a young worker shouldn’t be jeopardised by your summer job!! Enjoy summer!!!

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