WHEN the Suhadolnik family decided to expand their chippy business with a second shop, they assumed it would be easy to find ten more staff.
For unemployment among youngsters aged 18 to 24 stands at seven per cent in their home town of Darlington, Co Durham, and the business is offering flexible shifts, lifts home from work and free grub.
Frank Suhadolnik is struggling to fill the vacancies at his chippy despite the town’s unemployment figures[/caption]
Workers, say the Suhadolniks, “become part of the family”. Yet they failed to fill the jobs.
In October, Darlington had 2,530 people claiming out-of-work benefit, yet the Suhadolniks have filled just five of their ten vacancies.
Last week frustrated owner Frank, 69, wrote to The Times, saying people had become “workshy” and questioning whether the benefits system was to blame.
While they received around 400 CVs, few applicants bothered turning up to the Haughton Chippy for interview. Others were no- shows after agreeing to start work.
Sun man Oliver Harvey went to work with Frank for the day[/caption]
So why aren’t the roles being filled? And is working in a chip shop really that bad?
At 10.30am on Saturday I clocked on for a two-and-a-half-hour shift on the job that few appear to want.
Frank’s son Robert, 37, who hasn’t had a day off since April, told me: “I think it’s a good job, I bloody love it. You build up relationships with our customers, we’re part of the community.”
Handing me a polo shirt and pinny, he recounted how the chippy sparked a national media firestorm: “Last Monday we had a new girl who was supposed to start but didn’t show up.
Frank says he received 400 CVs, but few actually turned up for their job interview[/caption]
“We hadn’t heard anything from her. I was at home looking after my daughter and I had to ring my mum and ask her to go into work.
“She’s 71 and had been working at lunchtime in the other shop.”
Frank’s forthright letter said: “Perhaps Universal Credit cuts have not yet been severe enough to make many recipients keen to work.
“We have been employing people for nearly 40 years and have never encountered as many workshy people as we do now.”
The family believe Darlington bringing in Universal Credit in June is to blame for there being few takers for the jobs[/caption]
Darlington brought in Universal Credit in June — around the time the chippy started hiring — and claimants need to be actively seeking work to get the benefit.
The family believe it is why they get so many CVs but so few takers for jobs. Robert says that potential workers have been put off by reductions in their benefits if they work too many hours.
As the fryers were fired up, Robert outlined what is needed to work behind a chippy counter.
He said: “Being personable is the most important skill.
Robert taught Oliver that being personable was the most important skill needed to work behind a chippy counter[/caption]
“We’re stood face-to-face with people, cooking their food. People want a chat. There’s also a skill to the frying.”
He’s not wrong. With a greasy sheen of beef dripping clinging to my clothes, I lowered my first fillet towards the simmering fat — then let go too early.
The resulting splash sent a spray of fat globules on to my forearms.
One of Robert’s workers, a mum in her 50s who didn’t want to be named, said: “You do need a good shower after a shift.”
Customer services worker Scott Martin and his daughter Jessica, who has asked about a part-time job at the chippy[/caption]
But she added: “I’ve worked here for 12 years and absolutely love it. The customers become friends.”
Soon our first customers arrived and the chippy’s hiring crisis was a hot topic of conversation.
Quantity surveyor Graham Todd, 37, said the construction industry is also plagued by no-shows, adding: “The way I was brought up meant you had to put the work in and then you’ll get the reward.
“A lot of people just want the reward now.”
Customer Paul Wood, 56, agreed that some people today are ‘workshy’[/caption]
Next in was retired prison officer Paul Wood, 56, who said: “Some people don’t want to work these days. They are workshy, they think they’re better off on benefits.”
Customer services worker Scott Martin, 45, said: “Teenagers today do seem a bit privileged.
“Would they look at a job in a chippy and think, ‘This looks like hard work’? Yes. I think workshy is the word.”
But certainly not all of them.
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His daughter Jessica, 15, has asked about a part-time job there and said: “I love the smell of fish cooking, I like working with food. It would be a good starter job.”
Judging from my experience, she’ll enjoy her time there.
Now it’s just four more staff to hire for the job they don’t want . . .
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