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.
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:
- There is a banking crisis
- Austerity measures are being introduced to bail out the banks
- 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%.
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.
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: