Blue Marble Travel
BAGGAGE MASTER JOB DESCRIPTION - 2015
© 2015 Blue Marble Travel. May not be photocopied or reproduced in any form
without the written authorization of Blue Marble Travel.
Welcome! You are (or are thinking of becoming) a Blue Marble Baggage Master. This is one of the world’s odder professions, but it is not without its rewards. It involves travelling the length and bredth of continental Europe, shlepping baggage and bicycles around. You will meet lots of interesting people, sleep in lots of odd places, and see many beautiful and strange things (as distinct from strange and beautiful things).
The pay is “adequate,” and the job doesn’t leave you much time to spend your own money. You will be able to save much of what you earn, and will end your time with us quite a bit better off than when you started (jobs paying twice as much don’t allow anything close to the same savings rate). In addition to the pay per se, other financial advantages include free or reduced cost train travel, subsidized lodging in Paris, and meal subsidies when you are travelling.
The following is designed to provide the framework of collaboration between you and us, Blue Marble Travel. It is a complex framework, but it is the best we can do to compensate you fairly for the four types of very different work you face: office, heavy lifting, looking out train windows, and touring Siena. It will not surprise you to learn that you are less well-paid for the last two than for the first two.
You will refer to this document throughout your season, most notably to fill out time sheets.
Our trips operate from early May to late October, and “clean-up / break-down” can take you well into November. The more of this period you can make yourself available to us, the more likely we are to be able to propose a job to you. We are especially interested in people who can work early in the season, late in the season, or both.
The following index allows you to jump directly to a given topic. It is linked from each chapter heading, to allow you to move around as you please within the document.
Period of Employment
Coordinator Work as a Baggage Master
GLOSSARY: Terms (vocabulary) used in this description
Any asterisked term* refers to a term defined in the following glossary.
“Bonus, End of Season”
This is a lump sum paid at the end of the season, in addition to salary, and tied to your performance during the season.
Down Time hours are hours spent in a “foreign location”* to which you have been sent by the company’s business, but during which you have no effective duties, and are free to make your own use of your time.
A day off is considered to be an indivisible period, during which time you have no duties or obligations to the company. A day off must include either:
Under normal circumstances, days off are full, 24-hour days, from late evening on day 1 to the morning of day 3. The more restrictive “contractual” definition is intended to permit an arrival or departure by overnight train at one end of a day off, or to permit a day off in a “foreign location”* between two assignments.
All locations other than home* (Paris) are “Foreign Locations.” This is important because the company has different obligations to you when you are in Paris (at home) and have access to groceries and a bed, and when you are in a Foreign Location, and have to spend more to stay warm and well-fed.
These are hours defined by a clock. Why the “full?” Because there is a notion of pay associated. You are be paid a “full hour” for an hour’s work (seems fair). You are paid half of that for time spent doing something where you are somehow constrained (riding a train, stranded in a foreign location*), but where you have no work duties. Such hours are called “Half Hours” see below.
“Half Hours” (and their corrilary, “Full Hours,” see above)
Half Hours are hours paid at half your normal pay rate. There are two sorts of “Half Hour.” They are discussed in detail below, but they essentially correspond to:
(1) Hours during which you are travelling, and when your time is your own for reading or sleep.
Exception: you are paid at your full hourly rate when transporting passenger luggage or bicycles, in the following circumstances:
- Until 15 minutes after train departure, and starting 15 minutes before train arrival, in order to give you time to secure luggage or bikes, and then to unlock and stage in preparation for arrival.
- At a train connection point where you cannot safely leave your transported goods anywhere, and must survey your luggage / bikes.
- Journeys of under one hour are paid at full rate. Journeys of between one and two hours are reported as taking 2 “half” hours.
(2) Hours of down time* in a foreign location* (see “extended down time” exception, below). These are hours imposed by rail schedules or the necessity of waiting for client baggage, but during which you have no duties, and can use your time for sightseeing or relaxation.
- Down time of under one hour is paid at full rate. Down time of between one and two hours is reported as 2 “half” hours of down time.
Paris is considered to be your “home,” or your base of operation.
You will travel throughout the summer, generally a week “on the road” in one context or another for each week spent in Paris. This ratio is not uniform: the average length of your missions* is one night, though you may be gone for a week or ten days at a time. A low sign-up rate, resulting in trip cancellations, may put you in Paris more than anticipated, while a high rate, or a lot of charter work, may increase the amount of time actually on the road.
A “mission” is any job that takes you across the Paris city line, regarless of the amount of time involved. So, a mission could be a run to the airport to deliver a suitcase, or a 6-day trip to Tuscany to assist a trip. Each “mission” results in a the filing of a time sheet*.
Office Days, Office Time
These are days / hours during which you work in the Paris office, a.k.a. “Home.”
Time sheets are the means by which you get paid. You fill one out after every mission*, and you fill them out for blocks of office time between missions. A separate document explains the completion of time sheets. It is not web-based: it can be found in the office, Admin > Personnel > Itinerant > Salaires
In the text that follows, “weeks,” or “workweeks” are considered to begin Su at 12:01 am. and to run through the following Saturday at midnight. This is only important in that you have certain guarantees that apply "per week."
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Period of Employment
The job will start at a date to be determined in May, and end on November 1. This period may be extended or curtailed by mutual accord, put in writing to avoid any misunderstanding, signed by both parties, and filed with the time sheets.
Our Baggage Masters take care of most of the behind the scenes work necessary to keep our tours running smoothly. The job has four components:
This is not an exhaustive list. In general, you are a factotum called upon to assist the advance of the company as best you can, in a wide variety of fields.
While in Paris, your direct supervisor is the person in charge of the Paris office. This person will determine your priorities, and have responsibility over your work schedule.
While supporting a trip, you report to the Trip Coordinator, who determines your duties under normal circumstances. A company-wide “Responsable Logistique” has authority over your travel schedule, however, and this travel schedule may not be countermanded by a Trip Coordinator.
For issues concerning apartment maintenance / cleaning / stocking, a designated “ringmaster” (generally the senior tenant in the apartment) will have final authority.
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COMPENSATION, EXPENSE REIMBURSEMENT
Pay rate will be 11€ / “full” hour (see below for an explanation of which hours are paid as Half Hours*, and for hours which are not paid). 1€ of this sum is paid one month after the end of your contract, provided your contract was successfully completed.
An additional sum may be earned as as follows.
End of Season Bonus
If you have performed your job to the satisfaction of the company (a.k.a. “the rest of us”)...
...and sought to render yourself helpful beyond the strict confines of your job description...
...and generally been a positive presence in our collective work environment...
...a bonus corresponding to up to 2€/ hour will be paid, covering all the hours worked across the season. This bonus is based on a numerical score given by each of your collaborators, and perfection is not a concept we know. It is thus most unlikely that you will earn all of it. But you can come close, if you are good, thus effectively moving the pay rate towards 13€ / hour.
Before the bonus is paid, financial losses incurred by the company because of your flagrant errors are deducted, in whole or in part (they will not be deducted from your basic salary, even if you have no bonus to deduct them from). Unless you were under extreme pressure at the time of the error (“fog of war”), at least a symbolic deduction (10%) will always be made. Generally the deduction will be 50% of the financial loss. In cases of extreme stupidity, wanton carelessness, or gross irresponsibility, it will be 90%. The company always pays the balance, sometimes muttering under her breath.
N.B. Coordinators temporarily assigned as Baggage Masters continue to earn Coordinator bonus credit for work performed, but do not qualify for Baggage Master “End of Season Bonuses.”
How You Collect Your Salary Time Sheets*
You fill out time sheets* for blocks of office days*, for missions*, and even for days off. You then file these in a pay binder.
Every departure from, or return to the Paris office should trigger the filing of a time sheet. Paris office time sheets are audited by the Paris Office Manager, or by his / her designate. Mission* time sheets are audited by the Logistics Manager, by a Trip Coordinator, or by some combination.
You are strongly encouraged, in your own interest, to submit your time sheets for each block of office time as you set out on the following mission, and for each mission as you complete the mission. In this manner, if you are “on the road” during an entire block of time at the end of the month, only a small amount of your pay is shifted to the following month. Please remember, you are paid on the basis of these time sheets. If you don’t file them, you cannot be paid, and this is no one’s fault but your own (do you hear your mother talking?)!
Time sheets should also note all time off since the previously submitted time sheet, such that there is an entry for each day across your season.
Reporting your hours on your time sheets is not a justified use of Paris Office Time. With all the time you have sitting on trains, we assume you will manage to work this in without billing us for extra hours at home*. If you do fill out your time sheets in the Paris office, you do so on your own time.
Between the 25th and the last day of each month (date chosen at our discretion), your time sheets for work done since the previous paid time sheet are totalled and submitted to our payroll company.
Within 5 business days of the first of the following month, our payroll company will deliver a check for the appropriate amount (in $U.S. if you are an American employee, and to our U.S. office in that case). It will then be necessary to deposit this check to an account somewhere (in either France or in the U.S. - you may have our US office “direct deposit” it for you, if you wish).
Since these financial transactions take a couple of weeks after any given set of time sheets is tallied, you should plan on having sufficient funds for a month’s living expenses in advance. If this is a problem for you, we will work out an arrangement to loan you living expenses in €uros while you wait for your first funds to arrive.
Any time sheets for end-of-month work after the monthly tally takes place will be added to the following month’s pay.
There are three sorts of unpaid hour, besides those spent wandering around Paris for your own pleasure. These are travel hours or hours in foreign locations, for which you are not compensated.
(1) If you overnight in a foreign location on company business, 12 “overnight hours” are unpaid, unless you have effective duties during some or all of those hours (in which case the hours in question are paid). Lodging costs are paid, and meal subsidy continues to apply.
(2) When you are travelling on an overnight train, 5 hours of overnight time are unpaid. A couchette sleeping berth is provided on board, and meal subsidy continues to apply.
(3) If you are assigned a day or days off* in a foreign location, this time is not paid. Such time off must be assigned in an initial block of between 20 and 36 hours hours (considered to be one “day off”*). Additional, adjoining days off* are blocks of 24 hours. If the day off in question is less than 24 hours (that is, begins or ends with an overnight train), it must include all the hours between 11a and 6p. If it is a block of at least 24 hours, it can start or end anywhere on the clock face. At company discretion, you receive either:
Exception: if you request a day or days off* in a foreign location* (as opposed to being assigned same by your schedule planner, for the company’s convenience), and the time is accorded, lodging and meal subsidies do not apply.
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While travelling on company business within Europe, all transportation costs are paid for by the company, including couchette berths on overnight trains. No compensation is made if you choose to sit up rather than taking a couchette berth, as experience shows that this produces excessive fatigue, and an under-performing Baggage Master, who promptly loses baggage, or his wallet, or his railpass, or all three. However, if you are forced to sit up for reasons beyond your control (a missed connection puts you on an all-coach train, for instance), all hours are paid (as with all hours on trains, they are paid as half hours*).
When you are obligated to overnight away from home* for the purposes of your work, your lodging is paid for. If the company lodges you in a city where you have a friend (as opposed to your choosing to stop to visit that friend), and you arrange to couch surf, 3 “full” hours are added to your balance sheet. Alternatively, you may take your friend to dinner, and add the dinner receipt (for both of you) as a legitimate travel expense. No meal subsidy is due in that case.
While travelling during meal times, and assuming no meal is provided by the company (or by the railroad), a meal subsidy is added to your base pay. The rationale is that you cannot eat as economically “on the road” as you could at home*, where you have access to a kitchen.
This subsidy is just that, a subsidy. It is NOT intended to cover the full cost of your meals, only the differential between what you would “normally” spend and what you must spend by virtue of being “on the road.” It is currently 4 € for breakfast, 10 € for lunch or dinner. Meal times are considered to be 7a - 10a for breakfast, 12p - 2p for lunch, 7p - 9p for dinner. The meal allowance applies if you are “on the road” during all of any meal period.
No subsidy is provided if the meal is provided instead (for instance: breakfast is included in the price of the hotel, whether or not you get up for it, or a railroad supplies an on-board meal).
If the Baggage Master is lodged in the same place as a Blue Marble group, the Baggage Master may dine with the group for a standard charge of 12 € (not including drinks), regardless of actual meal cost. No meal subsidy is provided in this case (making the effective cost of the meal 22 €). Please note that for accounting transparency and ease of Coordinator management, this is the only circumstance in which Baggage Masters may join a group for a meal. It is not permitted for a Baggage Master to “just sit with the group and have a salad,” while scavanging food off of client plates. Or whatever. You can imagine where that led before we instituted this policy.
This cost is deducted on the time sheet, rather than paid to the Coordinator. Only drinks costs (a.k.a. “Rons”) are paid to the Coordinator.
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Lodging in Paris
You may, if you wish, and if space is available, sign up for shared Paris lodging through us. We rent a “Coordinator apartment” (or apartments) agreeably located in central Paris, within a few minutes of our office.
Though the apartments are “overbooked” (each bedroom shared by as many as 3 people, for instance), our intense travel schedules mean that it is rare for more than one person to be lodged per bedroom for more than a night or two (in other words, it is rare for more than 2 people to be in town at once). Though bedrooms are equipped with two beds, if it is necessary to share a bedroom for more than two sequential nights, a Baggage Master in the shared room can deduct 5€ from his monthly rent for each night thus spent beyond 2.
The cost of a rental share in this apartment is 300€ / month, including all utilities. You are under no obligation to subscribe to it, but this represents exceptional value in central Paris.
The apartment(s) are turned over to the renters at the start of the season, clean, in good condition, and with an inventory of basic supplies (not including sheets and towels, which are the responsibility of the renters). Maid service is not supplied during the season: the maintenance and cleaning of the apartment is the responsibility of the tenants. “House rules” governing cleanliness and responsibility for breakage must be agreed to before a tenant is allowed to join the “house.”
In unusual circumstances, the apartment(s) must be able to be made “client-ready” by a maid in 3 hours (in other words, commercially acceptable for the lodging of clients paying a per diem rent that is one third of your monthly rent). Thus they must be appropriately maintained throughout the season, and not turned into giant biology projects.
At the end of the season, each successive “check-out” will do a share of the general cleaning and breakage replacement, by agreement and to the satisfaction of the remaining tenants. Absence of the approval of the remaining tenants renders the departing tenant responsible for a share of a final cleaning / re-stocking bill, if any. Alternate check-out rules can be instituted amongst house members by mutual accord.
A check-out cleaning list, titled “check-out cleaning” on the office computers, is available to help you know what will be expected of you upon departure.
The final departing tenant must turn the apartment(s) over to the Paris Office staff, by prior appointment and during regular business hours. The apartment will then be inspected. If it is considered that cleaning or replacement of inventory items are necessary, these tasks will be performed by Blue Marble, at a rate of 25€ / hour spent, plus the cost of any replacement articles. The invoice for this work will be shared among the apartment renters who have not explicitly received the “blessing” of their co-renters upon check-out.
Discount Railpass for Personal Travel
For the purposes of your travel on our account, you will be equipped with a European rail pass. For a flat fee of 25€ / month, we will upgrade this pass to 1st class, and make it of such a sort that you can use it for personal travel on days off.
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Office (in Paris)
The office operates between 8a and 9p. Very exceptionally, we may request that you work this full day, with an hour off in the middle. Work may be available outside these hours, but it is not routinely expected. Generally, only in unusually busy times will you need to work a 12-hour day. 8 hours (9:30a - 7p, with 90 minutes off), is more typical.
You may refuse to work more than a 10-hour office day (this refusal must happen when the hours are assigned). However, any refusal to work assigned hours reduces your monthly guarantee correspondingly.
Coordinators working as Baggage Masters: refusing to work a “long” day lessens the company obligation to provide between-trip work accordingly.
“On the Road” / in Foreign Locations*
Work hours may happen at any point on the clock face. Middle-of-the-night hours are not uncommon.
Extended Down Time Between Two Foreign Location* Assignments.
This concept has been introduced at the request of prior Baggage Masters, who preferred to tour locally in foreign locations and travel directly to their next assignment, rather than to return to Paris only to double back out to a new assignment.
It can happen that you will have successive jobs in foreign locations, with a couple of days off in between where no task is specifically assigned. For example, work in Italy, followed by work in Germany, with no duties in Paris in between.
You have a “right” to return to Paris “on salary,” and to double back out to Germany, still “on salary.” But this may mean spending the essential of your two days on trains, and we obviously have no interest in requiring you to do that in order to get paid.
If you are not needed for work in Paris during the days between assignments, you may choose to tour locally, and to travel directly to your next assignment. This must be explicitly authorized by the Paris Office Manager.
If you choose to do this, you will be paid as follows:
(A) The salaried time of your return to Paris, and trip back out to your new Foreign Locations*. To avoid a fastidious calculation, this is defined as follows:
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Guaranteed Work Hours
The following term is intended to guarantee that you have enough work per month to insure that you can cover your costs, and save some of your salary if that is what you choose to do.
We are obligated to offer you at least this amount of work. If we do not offer 138 hours of work to you in a given month, you are paid 138 full hours regardless of the number of hours effectively worked. If you are under contract for 5 months, and we do not offer you at least 5 x 160 hours, or 800 total hours, we are obligated to nonetheless pay you at least that number of hours across the season.
If we offer work to you that you refuse (which you may do because it is beyond your weekly “minimum” - see below), your guarantees are reduced by the number of hours you refuse.
Conversely, you are contractually required to make yourself available to work a minimum of 50 “real” hours per week (“real” hours are hours defined by a clock). You need not work more than this, but if you refuse additional work, your guarantee is reduced as per the previous paragraph.
Example: in a given month, you are scheduled for 65 Full Hours and 140 Half Hours* (90 of these Half Hours* are spent on trains, and the other 50 are spent in Foreign Locations* waiting for your start of service, for example). These hours are spread evenly spread across the weeks of the month. The total number of “real” (clock) hours for which you are scheduled is thus 205, yielding pay for 135 “full hours.”
We must offer you 3 additional Full Hours* of work (or 6 Half Hours*), or pay you for same if we do not offer them. If we offer them to you, you may refuse them, since you will have actually worked 50 “real” hours in each of the weeks during the month. Should the extra work be offered and refused, you are paid for 135 Full Hours*, and not the 138 of your monthly guarantee. Your season-long guarantee is also reduced by 3 hours.
Your guarantee is suspended in any month in which you give notice of resignation, and in any month during which you effectively resign, if applicable. It is also suspended in any month during which you take vacation time off (other than normal Days Off*, as guaranteed below).
You are guaranteed four Days Off* per month, at least one in any given week (defined as Sunday - Saturday). If you desire them, we do our utmost to place at least two pairs of consecutive Days Off* during each month.
Conversely, your Days Off may fall at any time during a given week, at our discretion. At your request, we must inform you at the latest during the prior week which your days off will be. We may not then modify them without your approval. In general, you will work Fridays and Saturdays of almost every week, and more often on Thursdays and Sundays than on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Indeed, Tuesday and Wednesday will be your most common “weekend.”
You may work more or less by prior, mutual agreement. We are a small business, and your reliability is essential to our ability to serve our guests. Absences not cleared with your scheduling supervisor(s) will be considered to be a violation of our agreement, and release us from any obligation to you of any sort. You must get written approval for any unusual absences / time off, to avoid any ambiguity (language-based or otherwise) and subsequent disaccord. A quickly-scrawled, hand-written note will more than suffice. But get it, and file it with your time sheets, so that we can all find it.
Our work is seasonal, and vacation is not normally a part of it. You will have a 6-month vacation come November. However, we recognize that you may want to spend a week or more of your summer in Europe doing something else than working. This is generally possible, but can only happen by mutual agreement. In general, the sooner you ask, the later you allow us to respond, and the more choices you give us for your vacation week or weeks, the more likely it is that we will be able to satisfy your request. Unfortunately, it is not always possible for us to make this commitment more than a couple of weeks in advance.
We advise you to be clear and precise in your requests, and to get your authorization in writing if you have any doubt as to whether or not your absence has been approved by all relevant parties (the Paris Office Manager, the Logistics Manager, and the Lead Coordinator are the people who may have input).
The only times in our company history we have ever felt the need to terminate collaboration with (a.k.a. "“fire”) a Coordinator or Baggage Master during the course of a season (it has happened twice), it has been for unauthorized vacation. Both times, the Coordinator / Baggage Master in question (wishfully?) felt that the vacation had been approved.
Vacation time is unpaid, though we may be able to provide you with lodging or discounted train tickets to help your project along.
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Your Employer, Payment Conditions
If you are American, you are employed by the American arm of the business, the IND Commercialization Corporation, a New Jersey Corportation. Your pay is converted to US$ on each payday, and paid to you in dollars. If a Canadian, you will submit an invoice to us for the amount in question, and are responsible for your own reporting. Other nationalities will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
You may be laid off at any time, with one month's notice, if Blue Marble (defined as “the rest of us”) is dissatisfied with your work for any reason. Typical reasons include financial irresponsibility, poor office work, or unwillingness to contribute to the collective effort in some way.
During that month you will be provided with work in Paris, for a minimum of 20 hours per week. You may leave at any time during the month, by giving us one week's notice.
If your efforts during the month prove unsatisfactory, you may be terminated without further notice in exchange for a one-way air ticket to your home country, effective within 5 days of your termination. If, during this “termination month” you fail to report to work as scheduled, or refuse an assigned task of which you are normally capable, you will be terminated immediately, without compensation.
You may also resign, by giving us two month's notice (one month’s notice if you resign during the first month of your employ). Failure to give appropriate notice results in forfeiture of any unpaid salary. During the period between your resignation and your effective departure, your Guaranteed Hours are reduced by 25%.
A general (softening) comment: we offer you employ in the hope (and expectation) that you will stay with us throughout the season. We will not take your job away for any reason other than your own poor work or incapacity, which we do not anticipate. We promise you this even if we are having an awful year, and would be better off without your services, and without having to pay your salary. This is job security of a type rarely seen in this field, where most employees are hired for “piece work.”
Conversely we expect you to stay with us unless you have some very important reason for leaving. It has been said before: we are a small company. It is probably not necessary to point out that an impromptu departure requires us to find and hire someone else on short notice. The quality of employee we seek is not usually available in such circumstances, we don't have time to look for the employee in any event, and mid-season training is impossible. So that is a big pain for us.
Coordinator Work as Baggage Master
Coordinators may be assigned as Baggage Masters, either to give a week out of the limelight, or because no work as a Coordinator is available. In this case, each block of 8 Full Hours* worked (or the Half Hours* necessary to equal 8 Full Hours), count towards the Coordinator work obligation and also towards the Coordinator work guarantee.
Example: if 32 hours are reported on a Baggage Master time sheet for a three-day mission, 4 days’ work are considered to have been performed.
For purposes of salary and expense account calculation, work is broken down into “Trip Time,” “Paris Time,” and “Baggage Master Time.”
You are not insured by us, nor do we carry any insurance of any sort. This is not our choice: we would love to protect you. But insurance is fantastically expensive in our line of work, and were we to subscribe, we would have no work to offer you. In the US, we do pay into Workman’s Compensation for U.S.-based employees, but this program does not cover injuries sustained outside of the United States, and so is of no practical use.
In other words, this is not a job with any medical benefits of any sort. And, as you can imagine, it does have its risks. These include injury or even death while on the cycle, or while carrying luggage or equipment. We recommend that you subscribe to travel insurance of your own, should you have access to any. Run your policy by us: we may be willing to subsidize it.
European employees are covered by French social insurance.
A Few Legal Issues
As a condition of your work with us, you will be expected to sign a non-disclosure, non-competition agreement, designed to protect our trade secrets from theft.
This is insulting to you, and to us, and we apologize in advance. This is not the way we see the world. Nor do we suspect that you do. But we were once confronted with someone who did, and only this type of agreement can protect us (all of us - our business, and your future jobs) from that sort of individual.
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without the written authorization of Blue Marble Travel.