Monday, December 7, 2009

Really bad luck ... or the evil eye? 20/06/09

The worst happened. Last night the work inspectors came. In came a fat guy with his card and his two partners and took my poor marito away. The barman discreetly moved away from behind the bar and the waiters ran to tell the kitchen staff and they hid out the back. Mio marito then called me and said we worked and did everything ourselves, but these investigators frowned and insisted and said you two can’t do this on your own. As it happened it was a fairly busy time when they arrived which is ironic as it has been so quiet most other nights. Mio marito called our lawyer and also our accountant who would know what to advise us, but being Friday night perhaps, they didn’t answer. He didn’t know what to do and was under fierce pressure from the three inspectors so in the end he called two of the waitresses; his sister said she was the cook and the other said she was the waitress. We didn’t know where the aiuto cuoco had gone to, so I said I was also the cook! Well, all the recipes are mine so it is true enough. The older woman with the smoked skin and the tight black clothing sat me down beside her and wrote the whole declaration: ‘I have been collaborating with my husband since the opening especially cooking the tapas and serving tables and sometimes at the till as necessary.’ Wording it so carefully. It felt more like a confession than a declaration, and they didn’t give us any information as to what would happen next. The two waitresses could hardly remember what they had declared and of course transparency being non-existent in Italy, we didn’t get a carbon copy.

I am so angry today, at something so outside my control. This is what annoys me most about this new life; that everything is beyond my control. I have to trust everything to other people. People say bet there was a tip off and someone sent them (in fact I must admit I have a slight suspicion of the former cuoco …). But the inspectors said they came on purpose because there have been no employees registered for ages but the fiscal code was registered and earnings were coming in. We were too nervous and confused for questions and anyway it was like being interrogated by the Italian police. Mio marito did explain that we had had to wait for the certificate to come through from the Chamber of Commerce to register Pachamama, in order to employ our staff. It came during the week and we had gone to our lawyer straight away to find out what we needed to do to employ them (we applied for the certificate back in early April … it took over two months - what were we supposed to do? Not open but pay the huge rent anyway?) Plus the staff didn’t help. Mia cognata was on the Aeolians islands and so didn’t bring the documents, the other waitress forgot them, and the aiuto cuoco brought the wrong documents

No one told us of the urgency, not even our friend who apparently got the same visit as soon as he opened his bar. I think it is strange that mio marito’s family hasn’t told us all the things that need to be done, because they did this for ten years, and I have been asking what else we need to do in terms of bureaucracy and permissions and certificates… I think they were optimistic and didn't think there would be check ups so soon, and we were doing our best to get all documents inlegal order, as fast as the sluggish system pemitted. NO one can give us the full answer. It appears that the Sicilians LOVE to see you suffer. They take gratification in it. They don’t want to see you happy and well, they want to see you suffering so they can compare their lot to yours and feel a bit better about themselves. For as a friend said, this is excellent publicity, everyone will already know the story, and come for a nosey. All very funny, but we have to wait now for the fine. Immediately, we have to pay the tax contributions for the two waitresses since they started, which is fair enough. But unfortunately, the cognata said she had been working for us since 15 May every day, which is not true, she only come at weekends. And apparently we will get a fine along the lines of €150 per day per person. Plus a massive fine per person. Thousands of euros for the state. Those inspectors were out to get us. They must all be working on commission.

We go to the consulente (I even suspected he was behind it since he had just warned us about it during the week!) and the whole process of employing the staff took a mere few minutes once we had their details. What rotten luck.

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