Spain – Gib – and Brexit (part two)

We are resigned to going off grid.

But enough of that, let’s look at Spain in general, rather than their poxy electricity company.

Last time I looked at constitutional issues re Gib and Spain. This time, I want to look at life in ordinary Andalucía, not the big cities, just the countryside (campo) and small towns.

Should Spain ever get its sticky greedy mitts on Gib, it would be absorbed into Andalucía, presumably the province of Cadiz.

Chatting to next doors, we discovered he was working picking beans for six euros an hour. Similarly the two sons were also working for six euros an hour casual. Which also translates to on the black. Not that they want that, but you take what there is. There’s obviously no overtime or extra for unsocial hours, if you want money you work the hours you are told.

In fact the legal hourly minimum wage works out at just over five euros an hour, based on a minimum monthly wage of €825.

Andalucía has always been poor with a lot of agricultural workers, although much of the land is owned by rich families. During the building boom, everyone suddenly became a builder. With the crash of the (speculative) construction market, all these builders suddenly went back to growing and/or picking crops.

Life goes on and it’s very basic and simple. Many people work seven days a week: the goatherders, the chicken man, the tractor man, the fieldworkers (sowing, cropping and harvesting by hand), stable workers, restaurant workers, the bread delivery man (he does take Christmas Day off).

Any social life revolves around family. How people even find the time to meet people to get married is beyond me. But. The sun shines, and family support you, feed you, home you. Just, never think about an independent life.

People don’t talk about politics around here. They talk about prices. The price of food, utility bills, the rates, how they always go up by a huge per cent. And they talk about the weather. What they don’t talk about is Gibraltar because it is of no interest to them. Life is about survival.

Surviving. On radishes

So why does the Spanish government bang on about Gibraltar? Because it’s much easier to sabre rattle and try and distract the masses when:

  1. There is a banking crisis
  2. Austerity measures are being introduced to bail out the banks
  3. A number of politicians are being tried for dipping their hands in the till – some are already in gaol

I am sure people are far more interested in decent legit jobs and good social services, health care and housing than arguing over Gibraltar.

Andalucía has traditionally held the highest unemployment rate in Spain, rising to 35% a few years ago, with 60+% youth unemployment. It’s dropped slightly now, with adult employment just short of 30% and youth unemployment a little below sixty. The national average is around 19%.

El Pais

Within Andalucía, the province of Cadiz has been one of the bleakest spots on the un/employment register.

In the frontier town of La Linea, a report from the town hall estimates unemployment to be 35%. La Linea is pretty much like all frontier towns. Somewhere to pass through. It’s basically a shithole.

But, it’s also right next to Gib, offers cheaper rents for larger flats and a lower cost of living. According to the same town hall report, some 10,000 workers still cross the frontier every day, approx half of them Spanish.

Many of these Spaniards are cleaners, construction workers, carers, shop assistants.

Cleaners get anywhere between seven and ten pounds an hour – cash. Compare that with toiling under the sun picking beans for six euros an hour.

Construction rates vary. The union rate is £7.70 approx, the minimum wage is £6.28, (which clearly doesn’t apply to cleaners), and it is possible for a skilled worker to get £10 an hour. As much as a cleaner!

Some years back, the going rate was £100 a day, with on-the-cards jobs paying between £10–15 an hour. But those days are gone. However, Spaniards prefer any job in Gib to no job in Spain, which is the blunt reality. We know Spaniards who set off from their home in the hills at 5.30 am to be in work by 8 am. Because there is nothing anywhere near them.

One of the other reasons the vast majority of site workers are Spanish – or Portuguese – is that they are so desperate for jobs, they don’t argue back, unlike Brits and Gibraltarians.

Supervisor/charge hand: Get up that scaffolding. Now!

Brit/Gibraltarian: It’s unsafe. Get it sorted.

Spaniard: Sí señor.

Not forgetting …

SV/CH: You’re working until 6pm on Friday and 2pm on Saturday.

Brit/Gib: No I’m not. I want the weekend off.

Spaniard: Sí señor.

And a week or so later the lippy Brits/Gibraltarians are laid off. So much for the EU Working Hours Directive.

But Spaniards will stay in a job at all costs rather than standing up for their rights.

Now, imagine if Gib became Spanish? What would happen to all this work?

And, as the La Linea report states, Gibraltarians are estimated to spend £135M a year in Spain.

Olive press

The status quo is to Spain’s benefit, and local Spaniards are more than happy with it.

And here’s a view from a Spaniard who commented on my previous Brexit post:



37 comments on “Spain – Gib – and Brexit (part two)

  1. Another really informative analysis.
    I found it interesting to notice that governments and authorities the world over are learning what I call The Art of the Lizard’s Tail. If you have big issues you want attention taken away from, throw down small emotive ones and raise a huge fuss over them to make them wiggle enticingly. It works amazingly well.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Some interesting insight into the goings on over there in Spain and the whole issue of Gibraltar, it seems the Spaniards are not so fixated on having Gibraltar back, at the end of the day it makes no difference who owns the rock if the way of life for people is still pathetically hard. if Spain offers a better deal for people living in Gibraltar in terms of income wages services rules laws et cetera, then it would be preferable for the Spaniards to have the rock back. What is the history and why was it separated from mainland Spain?


  3. I think life is hard here (and it is for a lot of people on the fringes– thousands of homeless, for example) but I am glad I don’t live in the parts of Spain you mention. Sounds like real work to survive, even at the best of times — and if 60% aren’t even getting that limited work….

    And I also gather that you will be running a generator soon. Probably a good idea if you can and if fuel is easily available.


  4. Aren`t they now taxing you for installing solar panels – or is that only if you feed the grid? A lot of ill feeling about that subject in our area in Spain as they propose to install those enormous high power cables and towers right across the valley…while being unable or more likely unwilling to supply current to local occupants who have had to be off grid whether they liked it or not.

    As usual, never mind about improving life for the mass of the people, just whip up nationalist fervour.

    Same thing here under the last government…Nicaragua decided to dredge the Rio San Juan – its border with Costa Rica, which has navigation rights only. Did CR offer to help…to make life easier for its citizens who had only the river as a means of communication? Heavens above, no…

    Off to The Hague….processions of kids dressed in white calling for peace….and millions siphoned off from the building of a `road`on the CR bank of the river to enable a response to a Nicaraguan invasion.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Very interesting as it seems Spain is kind of like Mexico- no jobs, severe poverty, etc. etc. The Mexicans come to the states for jobs but I’ve read the illegals are not as many now since all are afraid of deportation. I just don’t understand why Spain can not do better and support its people with jobs, etc. So many talented people that live in Spain and no way to make a living. Pitiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A very bleak picture – it’s so sad to read this post. Those with money and power will do anything to maintain their ill gotten gains – and it’s nearly always ill gotten one way or another. With the trumpeter in charge here in the states, I am worried sick about the future of our Grands, and I’m worried sick about the rights of all people all over the world because we are all connected – except for those who have no connections and simply suffer. Wish I had the wisdom to offer solutions but I can only commiserate with those who struggle.


  7. Gibraltar is and probably always will be the smokescreen behind which Spanish politicians do things unnoticed. People know that if Spain got Gibraltar back then employers would pay the same rates as the rest of Spain to the benefit of no-one.
    Hope you’re well
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx


  8. What about the cities? Surely there is work in the cities? I was in Valencia a short time ago and I spoke with a local who complained that there were too many Spanish there from other parts of Spain like Andalucía – he seemed to be ignoring the Brits and the Dutch and the Scandinavians!

    Europe generally is in the shit, hopefully we will soon be out!


  9. Xavi’s comment is so appropriate to so many countries – ruled continuously by a self-selecting elite. The UK included, whose class system is rising to the fore once again with barely a nod to history. After the crash in 2008, which had a fundamental impact on the European economies and how they have been run since, I always wondered where the Left were. If Capitalism was going to screw up big-style then wasn’t the time ripe to get things back on course for the many, not the few, as some will say? Europe may be in the shit, but at least I think the powers are getting the message that it will have to change, even if, and it will, take time. The UK however, I fear, will just get shitter.
    Your input about life “on the ground” is illuminating, though.


  10. Your dialogues sound so familiar to some by locally: contributing to a shadow world existence where safety is ignored by the desperate who know things can get/are worse in place they have seen and the willing used as leverage to keep pay scale low. If some undocumented worker gets hurt they are driven to the closest ER and dumped. (They do get treatment, but are usually too afraid to turn in employer so the risk to others continues.)
    One of my major impressions of Spain – and that area – was how there were a few very wealthy and the ordinary people were just trying to survive. Does anything ever change? Seems like we are going backwards – dad picked cotton as a child. His father eventually moved to town and took a Joh while his mom ran a boarding house for college students. All done so the kids could get small part time jobs and eventually go to college and be able to support themselves as adults in a better, less hard fashion. Now some are looking around trying to learn farming and livestock, getting independent for electricity and water, in order to have a better life – even if it is very hard, maybe they’ll have food. Take care of yourself, your family and then your neighbors – about all anyone can do.
    The ordinary person can only try to sustain themselves – much less worry about big world affairs.
    Whoever controls the media/information streams controls the people…who are too exhausted to care.
    Big government is only concerned about keeping control in any way/by any means they have.
    Been reading about the chaos in Venezuela? Brutal and tragic.
    Local government – local control – may be the only hope.. Maybe backwards, but bureaucracy is too often anonymous, sheltered, greedy and so happy to spend other people’s money (and wind and dine as they do)
    Hopefully you managed to wire around difficulties there. Alway enjoy your insights

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Happily washed ashore in our little backwater I now often find the news/world events-situations overwhelming, like trying to control a bushfire by fighting the spot fires. On good days I can almost convince myself of evidence of change for the better but that’s just a desperate grab for optimism, I think.
    Off-grid seems a leap from bureaucratic bungling by your power provider but at least you have the means. So do we, in case of extended power outages, emergency situations, or possibly even doomsday…


  12. Seems that most countries/economies have the phenomenon of the low income folks living outside of the formal economy (e.g. paid under-the-table, or in our rural area of the Appalanchian Mountains, bartering this service for those goods) and the wealthy finding ways to hide/keep their position.

    Regarding those goat herders, a decade or so ago, we traveled near your way. In a small town (I would have to look it up on a map, but I recall it was near a lack that had flamingoes), we came upon a goat herder guiding his flock through town in a cloud of dust. We stopped, snapped some photos, and waited for them to pass. Fun as a tourist, but as a lifestyle? Wait, we raise milk goats (but do not need to move them across town). – Oscar

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I won’t even pretend to understand it all, but I do think it’s appalling that the min wage is so low, especially with bills, food, other goods consistently on the rise. But I wonder how many actually get the supposed to be standardised minimum wage even? Those on salaries for example… when one counts the endless hours expected out of them, especially those who are deemed to be ‘on call’ are they really earning much more if even matching the min?

    Like you said, Spaniards probably rather have job security than risk losing everything by arguing over pay. I’m sure the government and sloppy firms count on it. Btw, I think the average/min pay for construction is completely bogus especially when one thinks of the potential risks involved.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I don’t know if you will ever see this, Adrian, but I wanted to express my regret. I was shocked to learn of Kate’s death from Vicky Hill. She will be very much missed in our blogging community. I have no idea how you are coping with such a huge loss, but I wish you well.

    Liked by 4 people

  15. I still quite can’t take in that Kate is gone. Kate was one of my first commenters, her blogs some of the first I followed. She informed, inspired and gave me the courage to live my beliefs & values and remained my friend even if I was out of my depth on some of her topics. She will be greatly missed but leaves a wonderful legacy. As I go about my simple life I’ll always think of her. To Adrian if you read this, all her friends and followers, I’m so sorry for our loss.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Dearest Adrian,

    I didn’t know your dear Kate that well. However, I am certain that she was smart, beautiful and incredibly creative.

    I just want you to know that this white trash atheist from western Tennessee is thinking of you, and all of your loved ones today. I know it’s been a while since she has passed away. I didn’t find out until last night. She had so much life and motivation in her being that it’s hard for me to understand that she is no longer with us.

    Please know that she was well respected among our secular family on WordPress. I wish you and your family much love and comfort at this time. I am absolutely sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Please, is there anyone here who can share with me how Kate died? I only heard of her death today and am so saddened by it. She was of great help to me a few years back when I was deconverting from religion, and I shared many conversations with her on atheist blogs over the years. She was a spirited debater, a kind soul, and was never afraid to speak her mind. She will be missed. My condolences to all who loved her. <3



  18. on another note, the original post by kev over at kcbooks and music that originally posted the sad news of Roughseas’ passing, is no longer available. in fact, the entire blog is gone from cyberspace. does anyone have any info or news about Kev Cooper?


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