I'm still not getting paid at work, and this will make week 7. A few people had the same problem for a couple of weeks, but they've all been getting paid for several weeks now, including all the other foreign students (South Korea and Poland), and the girl that got hired the day I did (the girl from Poland.) It's definitely a pattern with this company. Consistently. Habitually, even.
As for their opinion of the problem:
First, the head office lost my paperwork, but neglected to tell me until the beginning of the 5th week. Then it took another week to get the new batch to them. Then they decided I needed a letter from St. Andrews to prove I was a student. I provided one that I had received that week, on official letterhead, dated 14 June, 2008 that congratulated me on completing the first half of my degree and informed me that I was enrolled for the summer in the dissertation phase. It was dated, official, and confirmed I was a student. I have now received two stories as to why that was insufficient. One is that I don't have a British National Insurance Number, which is absurd because 1) I have a Visa, and thus don't need one to be able to work and 2) the other immigrants, Visa'd students *and* non-student immigrants do not have NI #'s and are getting paid. I've been shown the computer database to confirm this. The other story is that the letter I provided was somehow not sufficient, and I have to petition the Old Union Administration to issue a special letter that provides the dates and confirms that I am a student in some other ambiguous format of which I have not been advised.
I am shocked and confused that I am working and they don't pay. Even if I provide the letter this week (which is unlikely, as it takes a week to process, on average) I wouldn't get paid until the end of my 8th week with the company (provided everything after the receipt of the letter went swimmingly.) I try to give most people and companies the benefit of the doubt, but this seems absurd. I've made an appointment to speak with Citizen's Advice tomorrow, which I'm told is a place to get quasi-legal or procedural advice on living in Britain and British systems (like council tax, renters insurance, etc.) and for which I am eligible because I am a student. Several people have suggested they might have a method that would allow me to motivate the Head Office to process my paperwork in a timely manner. (The other stumbling block is that for all the local branch's management problems and apathy, there's nothing either of them can do even if they did care to help me, so... I can't really be angry with anyone but the faceless Head Office somewhere in England.)
Subsequent to that appointment, I plan to have a meeting with my branch manager. At this point, he's working me about twice as much as I want to, and even more than what my contract says (though that's still more than I'd ideally work), my dissertation is suffering, I'm not being paid, and I have minimal support, if any, from the authority figures and branch management with whom I have contact. On top of that, the only supervisor with whom I get along, and who has had my back all along has quit for very similar reasons. Her last day is tomorrow. I threw enough of a fit last weekend to get most of my back wages issued as a cash advance from petty cash, and a signed printed receipt, but I'm still lacking the credit card tips due to me, and any documentable information regarding my wage, tax, etc. I also am not part of the payroll system and thus will not be paid on time for hours worked last week or this week. As a result, I have trouble justifying further shifts, so I think at this point, (unless I get drastically different opinions from Citizens' Advice, my mom, or my all-knowing flist in the interim) I'll simply tell him that I can't justify continuing to work for a company that does not feel obligated to abide by its contracts or to pay its workers, and I'll hand in my uniform and be done with it. There are other places hiring, and I could use the research time desperately at this point. I just can't justify spending the time and mental energy fighting this particular battle.
Unfortunately, one of the managers made a comment (when she thought I couldn't hear) that if I left before I was officially paid, I'd never get paid. I'm assured that's illegal, but it makes me wonder if this won't be a pretty significant battle, so it worries me a bit to leave. However, at this point, they only owe me a week and a half of wages, and continuing to work will probably only exacerbate that. If I'm going to have losses that way, I'd prefer to minimise them.
I had a great meeting with my supervisor yesterday before he left to visit his new grandbaby in Nicaragua for three weeks. I think I've got a handle on a really interesting project, and one that's at least somewhat unique if not completely original. He seemed reasonably impressed, and I think I had more than he was afraid I would, so I feel good. The man's a legend, though. Every time I meet with him he lends me a couple of books that are absolutely perfect for what I'm researching at the moment, and there's always one in there somewhere that's his work. The great thing, though, is that he never mentions it, and if I do, he just mumbles politely. This week, he handed me a DVD with a completely electronically searchable database of a transcription and translation of every record of English Parliament for 200 years. Not yet having seen who the editing team was, I commented that it must have been a huge project that dominated a number of years of someone's career. Very humbly he said, "Oh. Yes, mine. It only took about 8, but there were a bunch of us." Turns out he's the head dude, the General Editor of the whole thing. Legend. Most polite man you'll ever meet too. And he said I shouldn't stress too much about the PhD app just yet. He'd like to see me do well on the dissertation and that "we" would work on the proposal when the time came, which reassured me quite a bit that I might get some help from that corner. I don't know if he'll want to supervise me, but if he'll help me write a proposal I'll get a lot further.
SQUEE. That is all.