Prior to leaving university, I undertook temporary work during the summer holidays. In summer 1996, I picked strawberries in two fields near Huggate, East Riding of Yorkshire. In June 1997, I briefly worked for N E Coley Employment Agency, of Middleton on the Wolds, spending one day packing potatoes and one day in a greenhouse. The following month, I worked at Driffield Show, collecting tickets from people who had just entered the Showground after buying them. I worked at Driffield Show again in 1998, this time as a car parking attendant.
In June 1999, after leaving university, I again started working for N E Coley; this was a temporary job until I found one that enabled me to use my skills and knowledge. While I was there, my work again included potato packing and greenhouse work. Other placements involved roguing (removing large weeds from crop fields) and grading (removing bad vegetables from those going past on a conveyor belt). Most of the placements were in the East Riding.
Unfortunately, N E Coley was willing to hire absolutely anyone, with the result that I frequently had to put up with abuse from other workers. One woman hated me from the start. In my first week, at R M Sayer, I smiled at someone, and my enemy said, "Don't smile at me". When I corrected her, she said, "She doesn't like you either". For some reason, this was enough: the other woman ignored me from then on. My enemy later slapped me and told me never to talk to anyone again, then had the cheek to complain when I hit her back. She told my boss that she did not want to work in the same place as me again, but this request was ignored.
My enemy continued to turn people against me. At R S Cockerill, she kept saying "Speak of the Devil; I didn't know he was here" in front of another woman when she saw me. I was eventually told I was making one woman feel uncomfortable (I wonder which one) and would therefore no longer be working there.
In December 1999, at East Riding Farm Produce, I smiled at the woman who came to fill the vending machines. At the end of the break, my enemy decided to talk to her. After that, the visitor ignored me. Furthermore, my supervisor accused me of harassing the visitor, even though the visitor had never before had a problem with my behaviour. I was so angry I hit my enemy, and was sacked. After the end of the working day, I was told I would not be paid for working that day.
Since then, my enemy has given me abuse and turned people against me whenever we have met, and has raised her finger at me whenever she has passed in her car.
I returned to N E Coley in spring 2000, and was again placed with abusive workers. On one placement, I was called such things as a pervert and a homosexual. I had already learned that if I fought back I would be sacked, so I decided to complain. Accusations made against me were accepted without question and action taken immediately; yet on this occasion, I was told nothing would be done and was even criticised for complaining. As if that were not bad enough, it was because I had been persistently accused of harassment that nothing was done this time. I was even told my behaviour could lead to the agency's staff being expelled from particular places, even though bullies cannot even get themselves expelled.
On another placement, in which I graded potatoes, the other workers kept throwing potatoes at me until I walked out. I was later told that because I had walked out, I would not be paid for the work I had done.
It seems, therefore, that victims of bullying should not retaliate, complain or leave. So they must learn to put up with it.
I left N E Coley in November 2000 to start another job.
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