Don't Like the Romanians? You know nothing about them!
Over the years I’ve worked with Poles, Lithuanians, Bulgarians, Russians and even Geordies, and found them all to be very pleasant. Sometimes a lot easier to deal with than the English lads. And a lot of them are hard bastards. We had this Polish lad who shot himself in the mouth with a nail gun. We sent him to hospital but he got so bored waiting that he went into the bogs, pulled it out himself and came back to work. If he’d been English he’d have taken two weeks off work. I would’ve milked that one!
However, I’d like to say something about the Romanians, because I think they get a bad rep – pickpockets, Gypsies, tramps, thieves and on and on and on.
Well let me tell you that’s a very small percentage of Romanian citizens. When I talk to the Romanian girls they tell me they recognise Gypsies immediately because they’re mostly of Indian heritage – they call them Roms, and they’re known as Romi by the Romanian government, as well as beggars and thieves.
Beggars and thieves? Okay, let’s look at a few statistics shall we? Over 9% of the country’s 22 million population are Romi Gypsies. 70% of these live on less than £3 per day, a huge proportion of them living on sprawling landfill sites because they’ve been ordered to leave their homes by the government. Packs of wild dogs roam and food is often scavenged amongst the rubbish, as are materials to build ‘shacks’ to live in. They build these shacks on top of the rubbish, which is also the children’s playground. There is no electricity and no sewage.
You can only claim benefit in Romania if you have a National I.D. card, and for that you need a fixed abode, which a landfill site isn’t.
So, convinced that they’re hated in their home country, they’re relocating to Europe. Who can blame them?
There are over one million Romanians in Spain and Italy, 400,000 in France, and in England it’s reported that one in three Big Issue sellers are Romanian. Perhaps we should ask WHY they’re all on the move.
However, let me tell you that we have possibly 70 or 80 Romanians on site, and as I mentioned earlier the majority of these lads are very pleasant. Believe me, they WANT these jobs. Wouldn’t you?
The canteen is run by Romanian girls, and we’ve become good friends. They have playful, cheeky expressions most of the time, yet even though they’re not ‘Romi’ they have fierce Gypsy eyes when angered. They know English people think they’re Romi, and they take that in their stride, but they’re not.
Ramona is studying Human Resources and Business Studies to further her career and often comes upstairs to see me so we can go over her class assignments. She never fails to amaze me with her written English, which is far superior to many of the home-grown lads on site.
Alex is the cleaner, and I’ve taken her under my wing. She’s joined my Safety Action Group and also attends the monthly Committee meetings, which I also chair. It amuses me to hear Alex berating the other cleaner. It goes something like this, “Muist rahat, de ce nu vă curăţaţi acest corespunzător. Crezi că AM de gând să activaţi în jurul după ce toată ziua. Faceţi-vă propria, fuck you!”
She’s half Romi herself and is looking to move into safety. I hope she does, because she has the right no-nonsense temperament required.
Crina is a cheeky little thing with a coquettish nature, always blowing kisses with gaudy pink lips. Her recipes are as spicy as her sense of humour.
“Love you, ladies,” I say as I take my sandwich upstairs to eat. “♪♫ Love you more ♪♫” they sing. They know I’ve got their back.
I will not tolerate anyone on site upsetting my girls or directing racist comments towards them. If it happens, which it occasionally does, it’s dealt with immediately.
They’ve invited Sue and I to a Romanian party next summer. Ramona tells me we’ll meet loads of really nice Romanians, and I can’t wait!
Just before Christmas last year Rod Liddle in the Sun discussed the expected influx of immigrants in the New Year when England opened her borders to Bulgarians and Romanians. He wrote in his column, “Just like the ones who are already here – camped out in bin bags in Central London and begging through a mouthful of broken teeth. I suppose there’s a good chance they might put our honest British pickpockets out of business.”
Whoa, now wait a minute here. Bit of a generalisation that, isn’t it? Tones of racism and xenophobia sneaking into his argument, I think.
Honestly, do my ladies look like they've got a mouthful of broken teeth?
Aren’t theybeautiful? They could model, couldn’t they? (And by the way, I have full permission to use these pictures)
Believe me, these girls WANT to work. But just for argument’s sake, let’s have a look at Mr Liddle’s words above. Suppose I wrote very similar words about the black community. Supposing I wrote, “Just like the black people who are already here – roaming the streets with knives, selling drugs, mugging people, stabbing innocent teenagers. I suppose there’s a good chance they might put our honest British muggers and drug sellers out of business.” What would happen then? I’ll tell you what would happen. I’d be accused of being a racist. And rightly so.
So how dare Rod Liddle write these words about the Romanian community when he won’t dare write them about the black or any other community?
I just wanted to pen these thoughts in an attempt to set the record straight about any Romanians you may come across. Speak to them. You’ll find they’ll talk to you in a surprisingly pleasant manner. Don’t judge them all as Gypsies, tramps and thieves, because they’re not at all.