I have been fired, I have fired myself and then I have fired myself again a million times in my life.
But this time was different, this was the time I got sacked together with other 200 people without doing anything wrong.
We were all working for this London-based media intelligence company in the capacity of freelance media analysts.
A media analyst is somebody who reads and analyses thousands of multilingual cuttings per week from the clients’ press coverage following a set group of different metrics in order to measure the effectiveness of their PR campaigns.
You’ve got to have an excellent eye for detail, a genuine love for reading and the perfect command of at least two (four in my case) languages, you must never miss a deadline and your grammar and spelling need to be impeccable.
You also need to be prepared to become an expert in the weirdest industries and the most random things and items, such as drones, hair curlers, dog shelters, the Channel Islands, American hospitals, the Czech Republic, and diamond mines in Nigeria.
At the time, the company’s business model relied totally on freelancers.
Despite all the skills and the patience required, the job was mediocrely paid, but if you worked hard and long enough, you could bring home something vaguely similar to an entry-level, full-time salary.
The perks included that you were able to choose how much, when and where to work, payments were always made on time and you received a lot of support from the in-house team: even if you were working remotely, they were always doing their best to make you feel part of the business.
They used to send out a cool monthly newsletter dedicated to freelancers, featuring a section where managers would thank you for completing last-minute or additional work; I was listed there twice, and when I moved house and I needed references, the boss (whom I had met in person just twice) signed off a reference letter especially for me.
It was the king of freelance jobs, until, one day, the company was sold to a larger American corporation.
In a matter of months, things started to get destroyed, they lost dozens of accounts and clients, the best managers left and were not replaced.
In the end, they fired their whole pool of contributors.
There were 200 of us in total, most of which had spent nearly a decade working for them.
For most, that job was the only source of income to support themselves and their families.
They let us know by group email.
In their message, they gave us notice that it wasn’t their policy to provide references any more.
Our tasks were sub-sub-sub-contracted en block to random companies based in nice little places such as Hong Kong and India, that didn’t have the slightest idea about the job.
They lacked industry experience and all the necessary know-how.
They didn’t have employees qualified to carry out media analysis and didn’t know how to recruit some.
Eventually, they were given our contacts.
Now, the worst part wasn’t that they offered us to perform the same job for half the pay: the worst part was that almost everybody accepted.
I know this lovely South American girl that is still working for a sub-contractor, four years on.
She had to take on more and more work to be able to still pay her rent and admits that she has lowered the quality of her media analysis in order to cope with such endless hours.
She said they’re all fucking bastards, aren’t they?
Well, this is not the point, nor is the answer.
This is not even the question.
The answer, the only answer that matters, you have to search it within the clothes you pay £3 and the kitchen blender that gets broken perfectly on time, just hours after the 2-year warranty period has expired.
As for the question itself, it has gone on beyond any reasonable doubt since November 1991, when we suddenly decided that walls had to separate ourselves from countries much poorer than East Germany and that we were going to rule and regulate those countries according to the same custom-free and hypocrite open-space statute.
It’s weird what Capitalism does to our brains: whether we believe in it or not, Capitalism is the only thing that is constantly letting us down and down and down and that we continue and continue and continue being led by without even realising it.
The only other thing apart from love.
★ If you enjoyed this article, you’ll also like our EXCLUSIVE interview with Dame Vivienne Westwood and Joe Corré in defence of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks