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Showing posts from February, 2011

Guillermo Wilberforce needed?

One of the key elements of my job is talking. This morning I was talking to one of my English students; working hard.

Murcia is an important vegetable growing area and my student works for one of the firms that grows salad crops some of which are destined for the UK market. From what he tells me the company sounds like a dynamic, safety conscious, modern, European business. He had been astonished when one of their UK trading partners sent a message asking for confirmation that his firm doesn't employ slave labour. 
The student was scandalised. He couldn't understand why anyone in the UK would think that his firm may use forced labour. We talked about the many immigrant workers who find themselves trapped here, brought in under false pretences, their passports taken from them and forced to work in any number of degrading situations from building work to prostitution. I was reminded of the domestic workers in the UK whose bosses hold their passports, of those Chinese cockle picker…

Terms and conditions

I got paid on Friday. I always enjoy payday. One of my favourite days of the month.

Normally I'm only iterested in the take home figure but today, as I collected my wage slips, I had to sign so many bits of paper that I was sufficiently stirred to ask my boss which convenio I work under. Convenios are the agreements that the Employers Associations hammer out with the Trades Unions and which set the baseline terms and conditions for any worker in every sort of job. I don't know exactly how they are organised but I presume that there are convenios for broad areas, like food preparation, with more detailed convenios within each sector; bakers for instance. I'm in a sector called something like Unaccredited Studies which falls under Private Education.

The convenios add all of the detail to the barebones contracts which seem, from my limited experience, to give only the essential information such as who's employed by whom, for how long and with what holiday entitlement.


De toda la vida

A beef stew I thought, nice and warming. After all I'd had to scrape ice off the car windscreen this morning.

I'm in Mercadona, I've got the meat and one of those veg packs with carrots and leeks. In front of me the woman in the queue asks the till operator where the batteries are. "Which ones?" "The usual ones" or in Spanish de toda la vida, of all the life. The till operator pointed and the woman retrieved her batteries. Apparently the traditional size is AA. I felt old. I still tend to think of standard battery sizes as being the torch sizes I bought from Robertshaw's as a lad; either the big fat U2s or the slightly smaller U11s.

But how traditional is anything? What is the shared experience of "All the lfe?" At work, to teach English, there is a standard manual that I work from. One of the exercises uses pictures of the Beatles and Elvis Presley to teach comparisons. Lots of the students don't know either the Fab Four or The King an…

Basic Rights

Life in Spain has been very ordinary for the last couple of weeks and we've not done anything very bloggable for a while. This entry is really to prove that I'm still here; it may not be worth your time reading it.

The local elections are coming up in May and the campaigns are beginning to hot up. I will be voting in the town elections in Pinoso but I can't vote in the regional elections. I'm not quite sure why and I decided yesterday evening as I was reading about some dodgy political dealing in the paper that I should make a little protest about that. After all one of the basic rights or responsibilities within a democracy is the right to representation through the ballot box. I get to vote in national elections in the UK and the locals and Europeans here but I am denied a vote at regional level in both countries. Time to get in touch with my European representative I think.

Another one of those basic rights written into the Spanish Constitution is the right to healt…