The job thing (4) – and stuffed cabbage leaves

It is axiomatic that unless you are extremely rich, you need either an awful lot of savings that bring in some reasonable interest, or you have to work.

Given the current world recession, savings are bringing in very little unless you tie them up for three to five years, and even then, unless you have decent bucks, you won’t get much interest. We aren’t talking the golden days of thousands a year, more like a few miserable hundreds.

So, for those of us without a reasonable income, our priority is work.  Well, I’m getting round to it. I do keep visiting the job centre waiting for that perfect job to appear on exactly the right salary, for which I am ideally qualified.

In the meantime I write blog posts about the work situation in Gibraltar.

Some on the ground gossip. Which may or may not be true.  I repeat it as it was told to me.

1) A tradesperson started work on a building site the other week, and within two days he was gone.  Why?  Not a bad lad, pleasant, reasonable work, good time-keeping.  He lived in Spain.

2) A sub-contractor on a construction site was told there was no more work for his firm.  Why? Yes, that’s right.  He lived across the frontera too.  Contrast that with a different Spanish sub-contractor who had the presence of mind a couple of years ago to set up a legitimate Gibraltar company.  The money still goes to Spain, as he employs Spaniards, but it’s a bit more difficult to throw a Gib company off a job.

3) A couple of people running another business were told to leave that firm (not construction-related in this case).  Apparently they had adequate pensions from elsewhere and had received their jobs through, well, the usual crony networks.  Caveat: this tale is the least reliable as I don’t know how many people it came through before it got to me.

Let’s look at some facts. Or rather a government press release.

The assessment of the employment service is that the persons resident in Gibraltar and seeking employment is in excess of 1300. This is higher than the figure indicated by the GSD during the election campaign when they claimed that providing employment on the minimum wage to everybody who was unemployed would cost £11m, which at an annual cost of £10k per person unemployed, would translate into 1100 unemployed.

This therefore is the real level of unemployment and not the 450-500 persons a month that has been given in the past as the level of unemployment and which led the GSD Government consistently to boast that we had an unemployment level last year of 2% or under. The real figure has been and continues to be in the range of 8-9% of the resident working population, when one includes all the categories of people seeking employment, including those on training schemes, those wait listed and other Gibraltar residents primarily British, Moroccan and other nationalities.

I do think this government is making a sterling effort to tackle local unemployment by trying to ensure that any Gibraltar residents get priority for any vacancy, and that only when they can’t be filled should employers be looking across the border.  But …….

For just about everyone reading this blog, I think I should let you know the minimum wage here is £5.40 and not the £6.08 of the UK.  There’s probably not much in it as they are both crap wages.  Ten thousand pounds a year ain’t enough to get a mortgage.  Nor do you have much left to live on after you have paid £500 a month (minimum) rent in the private sector.  This is why people in Gibraltar live at home until they can get government housing.

What about if you are skilled and qualified?  Well the local construction industry official rate is £7.47 an hour for a skilled craft operative.  That comes in at £284 a week, gross (slightly under £15K pa).  Unless you have allowances in Gib, tax rates are high (initial rate 17%, followed by a hike to 30%). Of course if you have lots of money, naturally you can opt for a lower tax rate, of 20%.

How about if you are a journalist?  Well, the Chron is advertising a post for a trainee qualified reporter.  Hello Chron?  I think when I passed my journalism exams I was no longer a trainee and I became a Senior Reporter (rather than a Junior Reporter).  They are offering a princely £15K too, although they do offer up to £17K, presumably for a very well qualified and experienced trainee reporter.

But, all is not lost.  A PA or an office manager can apparently pull in some £20K.  Social media managers for gaming firms can look at nearly £30K.  And a marketing director who speaks Scandinavian (which Scandinavian language I wondered, not that it mattered) can get £30K plus.

Most of the jobs in the job centre are in the gaming industry.  Either techy ones, or needing a zillion bizarre languages and previous exp of the industry.  These are followed by finance/accountancy/company trust jobs.  For which you need to be an accountant, and ICSA or ITSA or whatever the trust stuff is. There are a couple of lawyers’ jobs.

There are however a lot more jobs ‘available’ this year, than there were last year. I say available because when you send a cv to an email that doesn’t exist, ring a ‘phone number and find out they aren’t dealing with the vacancy, or ring up and find the job has already gone in less than 24 hours, you wonder how much window dressing is going on.

More on jobs in a later post but after all that a little light relief is called for.  A while ago, I read on another blog about the author’s disappointment with the results of stuffed cabbage leaves.  I remembered making them a while ago, so fished (!) out the recipe I’d followed.

It’s from Sarah Maxwell’s Vegetarian Pasta (inspiring name there but I suppose you know what you are getting).

Pasta-stuffed cabbage leaves


    Any tiny pasta (I used twists which was all I had in)
    Savoy cabbage leaves


    Olive oil
    Carrot (grated)
    Courgette (grated)
    Salt and pepper


    Tin tomatoes
    Red wine
    Veg stock
    One chopped onion
    Salt and pepper


Cook pasta.  Blanch cabbage leaves.  Make filling ingredients and cool.

Make sauce, cool and zap.

Put filling in leaves, fold into neat parcel, secure with skewers or cocktail things if you need to.  Place in ovenproof dish (I slightly oiled mine) and surround/cover with tomato sauce.

Cook in oven for around 20 mins on 200/400/Gas Mark 6.  Serve any extra sauce separately.

My comments

I didn’t have courgette or walnuts.  I used ground almonds for the nut element (any nuts will do really), and managed without the courgies.

I didn’t have red wine either (!), didn’t feel like adding white, so did without again.  I used mixed herbs instead of oregano, and fresh tomatoes instead of tinned.

It worked well – it must have done – there was none leftover for breakfast :(

The key is in the timing, because you basically have four different elements to cook.   The recipe suggests cooking pasta and cabbage first, but I would probably (if I remember) get the stuffing and sauce going first as they take longer.  Either way, it tasted good, not too filling, and a reasonably balanced main dish.  I served it with a small green salad.

Stuffed cabbage leaves and tomato sauce


12 comments on “The job thing (4) – and stuffed cabbage leaves

  1. OMG, I so gotta try these cabbage leaves, I love cabbage leaves from the deli. I think the ones I’ve tried had rice in them? There must me lots of variations.

    Lol, when I read you were from Gib I was like “Where the fuck is that, South Africa?!” And had to scroll up to see that it is near Spain. ..I just asked my bf and he said it was part of the UK. Wtf, now I’m really confused. What an unusual place to live, I’ve never heard of anyone living there.:)

    I’m moving back to Europe soon and the job market situation worries me a bit. In Australia it’s really easy to get a job. Mind you, it would depend what your qualified for. I’m qualified for nothing and it’s easy for me, lol!;)


    • Cabbage leaves or vine leaves? Vine leaves invariably come stuffed with rice. I suppose cabbage ones can come stuffed with rice too. As you say, there must be loads of different fillings.

      Gib is a British Overseas Territory, former Crown Colony, [like Australia was once ;) ] It has it’s own government, but still retains ties with the UK. Yes, It’s on the tip of the Iberian peninsula, so borders Spain. Yup, it’s unusual :D

      I can’t believe it is easy to get a job in Aus!! It was 26 years ago :D when I was there, but I thought things had tightened up a bit. Do they still have those great job centres where you turn up at 6am and get sent to a job the same day? That was brilliant.


  2. tough times for those looking for work here, too. unless you are a nurse. apparently there is a shortage of nurses. however reports indicate that short-staffing nurses is also a cost-saving measure that is in vogue, so not quite sure how that works – or not, as the case may be.
    in any event, your dinner looks delish.


    • Probably using the bank system. Hospitals don’t have enough full-time nursing staff so use what is called the nurse bank, a bit like a job agency, the nurses are employed by the bank and not the hospital. I was never convinced of the logic, but there were a lot of strange financial measures in the health service :D Using the bank means you don’t have to include permanent nursing staff in your revenue expenditure for the coming year, and you can juggle around under different headings later on. As I vaguely remember.

      Thank you, dinner was nice :)


      • i think the staffing is done in a similar way here, although the terminology is different. in addition to the regular staff, which may be fulltime or part time but subject to benefits, there are also those who work casually. this means that they do not get all the same benefits – nor guaranteed hours of work.
        anyhow, it’s a new day and i am leaving shortly – so must run.
        no Pippa visit today :(


  3. Absolutely incredible. You tied the current job situation in with stuffed cabbage that looked quite amazing. Surely there is a spot for an artist such as yourself. I happen to like work (for the most part) and I do enjoy a good stuffed cabbage. However, I also know that what our world needs is more creative people to make it a more interesting place to live. I think you will find yourself in demand, like it or not.


    • Thank you Mark. I don’t think I was that creative – more a case of needs must! I wanted to write about jobs, and I didn’t want to forget to include the cabbage recipe and pic. Plus, even a serious post can do with something lighter to finish with. A bit like dessert, except I don’t eat dessert ;)


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