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Pascoe Penryn on how global capitalism actually works.
Or how Tony Blair sold Irish jobs down the river to Romania.

The following is all absolutely true: The name of the author has been changed to safeguard his identity.

Dirt broke - so I had to put aside my film and TV ambitions and get an office job through a temping agency. I just strolled along and said 'give me a job' - and they did! If only all things in life were so simple.

The agency has sent me to work for two companies. The first one was a recruitment consultancy that picked up people for MI5. A most bizarre job. I therefore had to interview and occasionally sit in on written examinations for the security services. I wasn't interviewing any potential agents or anything like that, just the poor souls who have to sit in an office and crunch data. Rather dull in my opinion, but we had many applicants.

One thing I was not aware of was that you have to be a British Citizen to be in MI5 (they'll let Irish in though). If you have a dual nationality you have to give the other one up. So when I would speak to people on the phone briefly before arranging an examination I would ask them 'are you a British Citizen'. The law states that at least one of your parents has to be a British Citizen too (which rules out a huge chunk of the population of London). I found it rather amusing that an Iraqi I was interviewing couldn't understand why I wouldn't let him join. He wasn't the sharpest tool in the box anyway, let alone coming from a pariah state.

If anyone wants to know where the MI5 building is, it's very near the MI6 building on ******** Street. A very rewarding profession for power crazed kleptomaniacs.

My next job was working for a chap who owns a company called LNM. I'd never heard of Lakshmi Mittal before, but I was reliably informed that he is the wealthiest Asian in Britain with a personal fortune of £2.5 billion. His company deals with steel. He seemed like a nice enough chap, though he's a bit of a slave driver when it comes to his staff. It's an Indian company and therefore 90% of the people working there are from India. It was quite an interesting experience as it was stepping into a different world once you went into the office. All the young Indian men were deferential to their seniors, all the men being called Mister or Sir. Which is cool. It's something that you really don't find it Britain anymore, not since the 1950's really and the end of the Empire.

I had no idea what I would be doing until I arrived on Monday. I was the personal assistant to the lady who was Head of Communications. She was abroad most of the time on business so I ended up running the show. Journalists and politicians' secretaries would call me up and ask me awkward questions. I would then reply with great authority that I was only temping and that I hadn't a clue. Excellent. The most enjoyable job I've had since the BBC.

I was pretty naive about the power of these multi-nationals until I actually worked for one.
On Monday I had a fax from the Government office in Dublin in one hand and a fax from Tony Blair in the other (I'm not revealing anything secret here as the information can be obtained from the company website). The company has made generous donations to the Labour Party coffers, so Blair sent a fax to both the Romanian Prime Minister and Romanian Secretary for Privatisation as the company wished to buy a Steel works in Romania. The fax basically stated that if the Romanians sold to Labour donors then Blair would support Romania's entry into the EU (Never mind Romania having the worst economy of the 12 new applicants).

The fax from the Irish government was condemning the company closing it's Irish steel making site, costing thousands of jobs. Guess where the jobs went? That's right, good old dirt cheap Romania. Guess why the Irish people voted against the Nice Treaty for EU enlargement?
Politicians sell out cheap. Nothing new, it's just that I hadn't seen it first hand like that before.

Anyway, that job has finished now. God knows what I'm going to do next.

© Pascoe P. August 2001

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