One of London’s free newspapers, the London Paper, is to close.
Most reports of the closure say that it puts 60 jobs at risk – the staff on the paper.
But they fail to mention the hundreds of people who stand on the streets handing out the newspapers – mostly international students who found that the hours fitted in with their studies.
Commuters in the capital will know the London Paper and its competitor, London Lite.
Each employs an army of distributors who have been evening fixtures outside stations for the past three years.
Fiaz has worked for the London Paper since it launched.
“More than 300 people will lose their jobs – the drivers, team leaders, managers and distributors,” he told Socialist Worker.
“I came here from Kashmir to study and I’ve just finished a degree in innovative technology, but I need a job to exist in this expensive city.
“I like the job because I like sharing information with people. I can’t explain how sad it is that it’s closing.”
Sure Field Marketing, which provides marketing services for News International titles, employs the workers.
“I’ve worked here for nearly three years and never been promoted,” said Fiaz. “I started on £7 an hour and it went down to £6. But I never left the job.
“Most of the workers only have this job and people are very depressed. Nowadays it’s hard to find another job.
“We only have four weeks’ notice – it’s not enough time to find anything.”
Farzana came to London from Bangladesh to study. “I have only one job and am very shocked,” she said. “I only found out yesterday – so what can I do?”
Nayaz, another London Paper distribution worker, added, “This is very sad for us. I’m a student and have just finished my Master of Business Administration (MBA). But it’s very tough to find a job.”
Workers distributing London Lite, most of whom are also international students, have similar difficulties in finding other jobs.
Rohit, a London Lite worker from New Delhi, told Socialist Worker, “I’m loaded with degrees but here I am doing this job.
“I’ve been looking for full-time work for about six months in the financial sector but there’s nothing promising.”
The students who hand out these free newspapers are incredibly highly qualified. But they will still find it very hard to get another job.