My first ever…

It is my first time being home for the Malaysian General Elections 2013 after leaving the country 16 years ago. Also the first time for me where the elections actually have any meaning to me.

Previously when I left, I was too young to vote. I was also not bothered with politics and I didn’t understand it. As I get older, I can understand better what politics is all about.

With all the recent posts on different online social platforms, it all looks so interesting and it is very nail bitingly exciting waiting for the results.
Continue reading “My first ever…”

Something’s got to give..

Just stealing the title from the movie. But it hold a  whole different meaning here. Tomorrow there will a protest on the streets of Genova by the workers of the giant companies who have since either closed down or laid of thousands of workers. My SIL is one of them. Since the 2008 crisis hit Europe, we have been seeing wave after wave of people being laid off. Suicide rates have gone through the roof, so to speak. There was an average of 2 suicides PER DAY last year and more than 11,000 Italians companies closed their doors last year alone. In the Guardian’s new yesterday they estimated that the unemployment rate in Italy is now at 24% which is really high.

Everyday, there is news of corruption and tax evasion plastered all over our newspapers, TV and radio channels. I do find a lot of it to be really disgusting. I have nothing against businessmen who have worked hard for their money, provided employment for many to enjoy their hard earned money but I have something against politicians who earn €30k a month (what the average person earns in a year!), with full benefits (telephone, car and misc. expenses paid for by the government) and are tax exempted. Also, once their tenure ends, their are entitled their “pensions” for serving the country, for LIFE! Even if you served only for a month in the parliament, you are entitled to that pension too.Some only work in total a month in a year. Now, somebody tell me how to get into politics! Even I want that!! Anybody?? wait…I don’t know anyone. It is a cronies only politics here and I thought we, from “developing” countries had it bad.

Out VAT or IVA in Italy is going up to 23% end of this year. Gas and Utility is up by about 3.5-4.7% each. They have lowered then pensions of the existing pensioners (mind you, not those of the politicians, just the laymen) and our petrol prices hover around €1.80 -€2 per litre. They upped personal taxes and company taxes and they wonder why people don’t want to pay taxes. They brought back home owner’s tax which also, if I am not mistaken also taxes €200 per head per household. I might be wrong on that. As a citizen (not me of course) you pay almost 50% to the government and then you get taxed more on whatever that remains through everything else that you use, consume and breathe in…what remains? No wonder the citizens are taking to the streets! There is even, restaurants who hang on their doors “politicians are not allowed”.

I am sure there are those who really work for the good of the people but they are the minorities. But why should they earn so much and be tax exempted? While they raise taxing for everyone else. Italy has one of the highest tax burdens in the world, ranked about 5th from the world’s top ten but the lowest paycheck in the whole of EU. It is a vicious cycle. We own our own business, so I know it is really hard to maintain the business with so many different taxes you have to pay for the business, for the people you hire and the labour laws actually does not encourage us to hire anyone full time at all. We had employees who stole from us but we could not just kick them out. We still had to “compensate” them €1k for every year they had been with us, and another amount of settlement we agree in front of a judge and pursue the theft as a civil suit after the compensation. I, like any rational person, would think that AFTER you have stolen from the company, you have forfeited your rights to ANY compensation due to you because you have violated the trust between the company and you. Am I not right?

In the end we paid €13k for this person to leave the company and not to pursue anything further from that point on from us. This person worked for us for 7 years, who knows what they have taken from us? We found only because we saw a strange charge on the company credit card statement over the December holidays. This person bought holiday flight tickets for 2 people for the December holidays! So it makes me think that this person could have been taking “holidays” on the company each time they went on leave. What am I to think?? Also, for this to escape our prying eyes, the accountant must have been on it too! Doctored the documents before reaching us. Shit!

Because of that law too, it is so difficult to fire someone after you have hired them because it is a very expensive exercise, in the end, companies don’t hire. Especially full time. Because if we do, it might come back to bite us! So in the end we have endless part time workers and they don’t get any benefits because they are part timers. Because companies are afraid of hiring, most Italian companies remain small and uncompetitive in the market place. Also, I was complaining all the time about their opening hours, especially when they are closed for lunch when that is the BEST time to open. Lunch times are like 3 hours. Who eats lunch for 3 hours? Most people don’t. So, after eating what do they do? wander around and maybe shop! I found out that it is not because they DON’T  want to open but they have to abide by state AND national labour laws that allow them to open for a certain amount of hours only AND  at certain pre-determined times. A license that you have to apply and pay for AND differs from region to region. How about that! I am sure you didn’t know about that before!

My rantings will be endless. I don’t want to sound bitter and angry. I am actually writing this to say that I might just join my SIL on the streets tomorrow and fully support the white widow, (as they are known, the wives of the men who died at work but recently pinned to wives of men, business owners and workers alike, who killed themselves because the crisis has taken a toll on them) on Friday on the streets of Bologna ending at the tax office where the husband of the organiser set himself on fire last month.

I wasn’t there in my country to support Bersih (in another post) but I can support something here for the people of Italy and my Italian family.