When Andalucia’s regional television channel, Canal Sur, recently advertised 112 jobs in different departments, it received an astonishing 18,700 replies. A third of the openings are for receptionist-telephonists, gofers and administrative clerks while another third are distributed among production, the newsroom and scriptwriters. The rest are for technicians, cameramen, and maintenance people. Job interviews began last week at the Congress Centre in Seville.
Thousands of people protested in the streets of Barcelona last Thursday against Nissan’s decision to lose 1,680 jobs at its factory in the region. The workers – some 10,000 according to the unions – were not only from Nissan but also from Seat and companies in the supply chain. The Guardia Urbana put the number of demonstrators at 5,000. The Workers’ Commissions union warned that if the sackings go ahead they will spark “a huge social conflict” while the General Workers Union called them “business terrorism” and urged the Public Prosecutor to take action. They said the government should spend less time defending the banks, and more time helping ordinary citizens.
A Barcelona company fired a woman worker last week for “unjustified absences from work” – as the woman lay in a coma in hospital. Sandra Tejero’s family immediately hired a lawyer who said he suspected the company – El Punt del Peix – was trying to wriggle out of having to pay her wages during what could turn out to be a long period of time. Sra Tejero fell off her motorbike three weeks ago on her way home from work. She suffered a punctured lung and the injury brought on a heart attack causing cerebral damage. The doctors said her life is not in danger but admit they have no idea how long she will be in a coma.
Around 500 health workers marched through the centre of Malaga last Thursday to protest a shortfall of 500 staff across the province – 200 doctors, and 300 nurses and administrative staff. They warned that the province’s health centres face a chaotic time this Christmas. They said services will have to be cut back and there will be delay in making appointments because the Andalucian Health Service has failed to cover the shortfall. The Comisiones Obreros (Workers Commissions) union spokesman, Rafael González, and other union leaders said waiting lists would soar as a result. They said that the Junta de Andalucia is denying there is a problem but the unions plan to hold a meeting in Sevilla ahead of making a decision on possible strike action in November. A Junta spokesman denied there were any cut-backs. He said the Junta’s objective was to stabilise employment in the health sector.
According to the National Employment Institute (INEM), more than 4,579 people in Malaga province lost their jobs during the month of September, the highest figure registered for that month since INEM records began in 1996. Just over 30,000 people have lost their jobs since last November, bringing the total number of unemployed to 115,895. The worst hit sectors are services – that is, hotel and restaurant workers – which accounts for just over 56% of the unemployed, and construction, which accounts for just over 25%.
Six agents belonging to the Provincial Information Brigade in Bilbao were fired last week after it was discovered they had not listened to taped telephone conversations involving a suspected ETA terrorist which might have prevented recent car bomb attacks in the north of Spain. The Provincial Information Brigades have the specific function of keeping track of suspected ETA terrorists and their accomplices. The six men had been tapping Asier Borrero’s phone but terminated the operation in June this year after deciding that he was only interested in having a good time and doing drugs and probably had no connection with the Basque terrorist group. A few weeks later, on July 22, the Guardia Civil arrested nine members of the so-called Vizcaya complex, who had been running explosives over the French border. Several others managed to get away, among them Asier Borrero. When his name was mentioned by one of the detained, the taped conversations were given another listening. Borrero did talk about drugs but he also talked about transporting explosives from France to Santo Domingo de la Calzada in Rioja province. The same detainee had also mentioned several ETA hiding places, one of them in Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Acting on that information, the Guardia subsequently discovered 100 kilos in the hide-out there in an operation which was supervised by National Court Judge Baltasar Garzón. The second listening also revealed that Borrero had had several conversations with members of the Vizcaya complex, which the six Brigade agents had failed to pick up.
The president of the Partido Popular in Andalucia, Javier Arenas, called last week for a wage freeze for all civil servants in the region, and a reduction of provincial delegates from 110 to 65. His plan to save the Junta de Andalucia €8.5 million a year also included reducing the Junta’s councillors from 15 to 11. He accused the Junta of “sailing in a sea of opulence” at a time when 24 people lost their jobs in Andalucia every day. He said Junta president Manuel Chaves “deserved a gold medal for wasting money”.