Ski Jobs - Exploitation?
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Dec 6, 2012 1:35 AM Last Post By: BthDth
Dec 3, 2012 3:16 PM
Ski Jobs - Exploitation?Last year I worked a ski season in France with an Irish Chalet company.
I worked 70+ hours a week for less than minimum wage and only one day off every 2 weeks. I was expected to be a host, cleaner, ski guide, driver ..... While my team seemed to be expected to work longer hours than other companies, 55+ for less than minimum wage was generally accepted as normal practice. People complained but they didn't actually get particularly angry about it. I would chat to long-time seasonairres about it and they would say that the French authorities know labour laws are being broken but that to do anything about it would result in higher wages = higher costs for tourists = lower tourism rates for France and so they turn a blind eye.
I find it amazing that no one else seemed as annoyed about it as me. There's one thing being paid poorly, but another being straight-out-used. I would never do it again, nor would i book with a chalet company. i love skiing, but the season was a huge disappointment to me. Anyone else have a similar experience?
Dec 3, 2012 5:27 PM
1The same problem exists in most of the alpine countries. I work as a ski instructor in Austria and there is an English tour company (which I will refrain from mentioning) that comes to my resort at certain times during the season. The company has employees just like you and hires the local ski instructors to teach the actual skiing. I was assigned to work with the company for about 3 weeks and I was shocked at how the company could get away with such crazy labor laws. Their employees were expected to be babysitters, drivers, assistant ski instructors, entertainers, waiters, etc. All for some ridiculously miserable wage (If I recall, I think it was around 150 euros a week?). Its just as you said, they complained and agreed it was ludicrous but seemed to be very much enjoying themselves despite it. I recommended to them that they could easily sign up for a ski instructor course and actually become an official instructor. I would recommend the same for you if you were interested. France, Austria and Switzerland all receive many English citizens training to be local instructors due to the huge amount of English-speaking tourism.
Sorry to hear you were so worked to death :/ Hopefully the beautiful scenery made up for it.
Dec 4, 2012 12:33 AM
2I worked at a folk festival a couple of years.
At the end, we wetre told,"You've been paid, but you donated it all to the Foundation.
And when you sell on commision, keep your own tally too.
A fellow salesman was told the credit didn't go through, on one deal. He went by the clients house to express his sorrow for them.
"The house owner said,"Waddya mean? Its been sitt'n here for three weeks!"
Dec 4, 2012 1:18 AM
3You forget to mention that they provided you with a place to live, probably a ski pass and equipment hire, free lessons and with lot of tour operators a certain amount of food is provided. I have worked for years doing seasons and they pay and the hours do not sound great but with everything else included when you think about you are not getting a bad deal. Nearly all the money I earned was used for freetime ie drinking, and i had more disposable money than I had when living in London earning 25k a year.
Dec 4, 2012 1:27 AM
4It sounds like normal conditions for working as chalet host/hostess for package tour companies. Other types of jobs are less labor intensive. But as richiavo mentions many of these winter resort jobs include a variety of expense-covering perks in addition to the basic salary. The seasonal workers are there for the perks (accom, ski pass, possibly some meals depending on the job, etc) as much as for the salary.
Dec 4, 2012 4:04 AM
5I may have failed to mention the extras, but i didnt fail to take them into account. I said I worked for less than minimum wage, and taking those "perks" into account it is still true. I earned 150 euro per week (with 40 euro of that retained until the end of season in case I got injured and and had to leave, in which case I didn't get paid the 40 euro nor get my flights covered).
- I got paid roughly 2 euro an hour.
- My ski pass was 600 euro for the 5 months, so roughly 40 cent per working hour.
- My accommodation was on the expensive side at 1000 euro per month, so roughly 3.33 euro per working hour.
- We got the left-over food from the clients, extra food was not bought for us. In fact, the chefs got to keep 50% of savings made on their weekly food budget and so were encouraged to buy less. Not that we had a problem with food, but the company did not pay extra for it.
If we had to work longer hours (eg getting called at 2am to collect a lost drunk client) these hours meant nothing - no extra pay or time back. Working 70+ hours a week left very little time to actually ski, which was the only reason I was working that job. We had been told our hours would be between 50-55 per week, when I asked my manager about that half way through the season, he laughed and said he had been taking the p!ss in the interviews.
If I was to return, I would work for a French company - a bar, a ski rental shop etc. They have to pay at least minimum wage by French law and the hours are regulated. So I would come out with the same amount of money for working less hours, hours that could have been spent skiing.
Phew, okay, rant over. Im off to book my self catering ski trip for Feb!!!!
Edited by: francisfresh
Dec 4, 2012 4:14 AM
6But the point being made is this: many seasonal workers at ski resorts don't care about minimum wage. They're not in it for that. They want the perks and some spending money .. basically, to break even and still spend the season at a ski resort. That's their goal.
All said, though, your story sounds more typical than not for UK tour organizers -- I once saw a BBC piece on the unglamourous side of working as a chalet host/hostess. Finding employment direct with local company/business is, in my knowledge, less likely to be the slave labour variety.
How many of these work/salary details were you aware of in advance? One remark you make makes it sound like you were being misled.
Dec 4, 2012 4:49 AM
7Obviously you are not really cut out for this type of work, thousands of brits do this type of work every winter, and i suspect a minimal per cent of them actually do it for the money, its all about living, skiing and partying in the mountains. I have done about 9 seasons and haven't regretted one of them.
I doubt if you did work for a French company you would be much better off, once you have paid for all the things that were given to you by the UK company.
Dec 4, 2012 12:03 PM
8If you think this is hard work, come and work in Greece for a summer season... Your chalet season will feel like a paradise then!
On a more serious note, I worked for nearly 10 summer seasons as part of the local staff in Greece, in a UK company resort . Company has winter chalet resorts in France, Switzerland,Italy and Austria too. I have met hundred of people with contracts and working conditions similar to yours,and I do not think they were working so hard or harder than me anyway. I do not know what are working conditions for French or people working for a French company in the place you've been, but I honestly very much doubt that conditions for them are better than yours. In general few people outside tourism/hospitality industry realize how hard job this is. I have worked or have bonds in local industry in many European countries and I do not think this is a "british resort" or Greek thing or an exception. Labor laws and the like never apply in this industry !
Dec 5, 2012 7:04 AM
9Sorry for intruding - I'm normally on other Branches but am researching some European mainland trips.
#8. The reason companies/individuals can get away with such practices is that they know somebody will do what others will not. The Greek Islands at the beginning of the "season" are full of the young, and sometimes not so young, willing to work long hours for a pittance. This includes some friends of mine, one of which worked for over 10 seasons in one of the "Uncovered" resorts from the early nineties. As the years progressed he could monitor how the wages and perks, such as free meals and limited drinks and in some cases accommodation were slowly being whittled away. In the 1999 season I remember he said a member of staff in the bar on a 7pm - 2am shift could expect approx. £12 in the hand with no perks or accommodation included. The job was for pocket-money supplement and a fun way to meet people.
Dec 5, 2012 7:15 AM
10To be honest anyone who does this sort of work for more than the lifestyle shouldn't be doing it. Yes years ago you could make big money on commissions and other things but it just doesn't happen these days. But what you do get is the chance to live somewhere else to meets loads of great people and in the case of winter ski for free.
Dec 6, 2012 1:35 AM
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