Archive for Marbella

Can Trade Unions Strangle A Country? – Yes They Can!

Posted in Budget Cuts, Europe, Government, Insanity, Modern World, Spain with tags , , , , , on 30/10/2012 by floroy1942

My wife and I have a penthouse in a residential community in Marbella on the Costa del Sol in Spain, and it wasn’t until today that I realized how labour laws are strangling the country. My wife is president of the community and responsible for the day to day running of it along with her three-man committee. We have a concierge who is causing many problems by not doing his job properly, spreading rumours and has on occasion been abusive to residents. In an effort to make him more efficient he has been given a work schedule with specific tasks at specific times, but he still seems to think he can do as he pleases and for the most part ignores it. Under these circumstances you would think the simple solution would be to fire him and get someone new: Wrong! This is Spain!

Today my wife and the committee sought advice from an official labour advisor who told them he cannot be fired unless we can prove gross negligence. Such is the state of the labour laws in Spain that it is almost impossible to get rid of a lazy or useless worker – there is literally nothing you can do! The only way to rid ourselves of the man is to pay him a huge sum of money in compensation. As you can imagine, this is not really a viable option in these troubles times.

Some of the contractors that used to do jobs around the community have proven to be sloppy, inefficient and lazy which is symptomatic of many. Needless to say, they do not work here anymore.

This whole business started me thinking and examining the state of the country in light of these laws. Spain has been in the doldrums ever since the housing market collapsed and the country had sunk further into debt year by year, and as I have said previously, the biggest problem is inefficiency. Although the current prime minister Rahoy is strenuously refusing a bailout from the EU, the situation is dire. The country has one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe and with the recent increase in purchase tax, prices are going through the roof.

When you visit some governmental or local offices it is customary to find chaos, rudeness from staff, and a total lack of cooperation, plus you have to get used to waiting for long periods to be helped. At this point I must make it clear this is not a ‘blanket statement’ because there are exceptions to every rule. The local council offices (ayuntamiento) in Marbella were very quick and efficient when we visited last week, but compared to that, the labour offices in the city are a complete disaster.

The bottom line really is that in this country, if you have an inefficient, or lazy worker there is little you can do to get rid of them. The labour laws have made it almost impossible to replace someone who just isn’t good enough. It seems that provided you turn up for work and manage to shuffle a few papers around your desk every so often you cannot be fired.

I tried doing some research into the Spanish labour laws but the waters are very muddy and its almost impossible to get any real information, but one thing that is certain, like in many other countries, they evolved from trade union pressure on the government.

There is nothing more motivating for a worker than to know he can be fired if he doesn’t do his job properly, but to get that far, there has to be a major shift in government policy regarding the labour laws before the country will be able to get back to its collective feet. One thing is certain, whichever government takes on this task will find the mob outside the gates in lynching mood.

Roy.

An English Residents View of Spain’s Economic Woes

Posted in Britain, Budget Cuts, England, Europe, Government Spending, Spain, UK with tags , , , , on 31/12/2011 by floroy1942

Just about the whole world knows Spain has major economic problems at the moment, which makes it no different from the rest of Europe. Each country has its own reasons for the current state of its economy, Greece because it fiddled the books, Portugal and Italy because they  just spent too much etc etc. the list goes on. As someone who has lived in Spain for four years, I believe Spain’s problems are caused by something other than just spending too much.

Spain's GDP Takes a Nosedive

I freely admit I am no economy expert, but judge things more on what I see from day to day – the nitty-gritty analysis I leave up to the experts. As someone who has observed life in Spain from the sidelines as it were, in my opinion, most of the problems in this country are caused by three main things; 1. An ineffective government, 2. major corruption and 3. massive inefficiency.

Zapatero - What Could I Have Done Better? - Everything!

Under Zapatero’s government it seemed as though they were not interested in governing and solving the countries problems, just sitting in their ivory towers in Madrid and talking, which is something the Spanish are very good at. Ask someone on the street the time, and you end up in a half-hour one-sided conversation. They love the sound of their own voices!

Rajoy - A New Broom - Let's Hope So!

In just about all respects, the Zapatero government were a waste of space. Whether the new guy on the block Rajoy will be any better we must wait and see. But whoever is in charge, Spain needs a governing body that will be seen to actively tackle the root problems, and most important, keep the public informed on how and why!

Marbella Council Members In Court For Corruption

Spain’s second major problem has been around since the seventies, and that is corruption. Here in Marbella practically the entire local council was arrested a few years ago for massive corruption running into hundreds of millions of euro’s since 1991. This went all the way from the mayor down through city hall. Many of the corrupt officials are now in prison but the courts are still trying to track down the massive amounts of money that were siphoned off, and they are not getting very far.

Highly Dangerous A7 Between Marbella and Fuengirola

The results of the fraud can be seen everywhere in Marbella in rundown buildings, broken road surfaces and a generally poor infrastructure. The effects of this have been far reaching, for example, the street lights along a twenty kilometer stretch of the most dangerous motorway in southern Spain (A7 E340) have recently been switched off because two local councils don’t want to be the ones having to pay for the electricity.

The Shrinking Beaches

Every year beach sand is washed out into the Med but has for some time not been replaced because of cost. This means in effect that beaches along some stretches of coast between Marbella and Fuengirola are shrinking to the extent there is not much left when the tide is in. Eventually this will have a major impact on tourism, which lets face it, is Spain’s bread and butter for it doesn’t have any heavy industry apart from the building trade. Its only other real source of income is the agriculture sector.

An Unfinished Dream Home

The building trade, which has flourished ever since it began in the 1960’s suddenly died in 2008 due mainly to the banking crisis and the collapse of the mortgage market. This whole stretch of coast is marked by half-completed buildings that may never be finished.

 

Living on a Hillside

Realising back in the 60’s that tourism was a major winner, they have over the years built on almost every patch of open ground capable of taking a block of apartments or a villa (plus some that are not) and it has proven a major money winner for the country.

Demolishing Someone's 'Illegal' Dream Home

The Marbella council members made much of their illicit money in kickbacks for allowing builders to flout the existing building laws, and so currently, many people who bought their dream villa or apartment and moved lock, stock, and barrel to the Costa have had their home torn down because they were built illegally. This has happened to many over the past three years and even pensioners have been left on the pavement with their furniture. Now things are being handled in a more humane way and many such places will eventually be made legal. The builders guilty of the corrupt practices have of course pocketed the money and are long gone.

The sad thing is, the Spanish government did nothing to curb all these excesses, and the massive criminality associated with the building trade. Some people living in England put down vast sums of money to have a Spanish company build them a villa on the Costa, only to find all the ‘progress reports’ were lies when they come across to see their dream home and found it either as foundations only or perhaps a couple of walls. The builder of course was long gone with his ill-gotten gains. My own sister had a villa built and the local building company couldn’t even follow the plans for many rooms were the wrong size! This building fraud much like the Time Share fraud of old has been completely ignored by the government and the police, because let’s face it, it only happens to foreigners! 

Local Police - Car Bound

Another interesting factor is the police are only interested in ‘high profile’ crime. Spain’s traffic and local police are next to useless, preferring to sit on their fat asses in their patrol cars rather than fight  everyday crime like beggars and traffic violations which is one of the reasons Spain has the highest annual mortality rates for road accidents (35,000) in Europe. But gross inefficiency is not limited to  the police, its everywhere.

An Expensive Accident

My wife and I had occasion to go the the Marbella Justice building a couple of years ago, and when we entered the office there where about five people lounging at desks. One eventually came over and asked what we wanted. We gave them the paper we had received and the man tried to find the file relating to our business. Every table, cabinet and available floor space was covered with half-a-metre deep piles of files as if it was a repository for waste paper. After searching for about fifteen minutes the man came back and said the person dealing with our situation was on holiday and could we come back the following week because he could not find the file – no surprise there! The idea of a proper filing system seemed beyond the entire department. When dealing with the local council in some cases you get bounced from one department to another, and these are spread about in buildings all over town instead being together in just one. 

Latin American Call Centre - About as Far Removed From Reality as You Can Get

Dealing with Spanish companies like Vodafone or the electricity company is a nightmare due to inefficiency. You have to call a certain number to get someone to deal with your query or complaint and you end up talking to someone in South America who has no idea what you are talking about. If you start getting frustrated they turn abusive as has happened with my wife when calling Vodafone. When our internet dropped my wife was on the phone for almost two hours!!!

In all good faith, I cannot ‘paint everyone here with the same brush’ for there are many Spaniards who are kind, courteous, and do what they can to help within the rotten system, but generally speaking, Spain needs to inject a huge amount of efficiency into the day to day running of the country from top to bottom. The police need to get off their backsides and do the job they are paid to do by sorting out the corruption and fraud which is endemic here. The government needs to start governing properly and let the people know that it is doing so, otherwise little will change in the forseeable future.  

Happy New Year Everyone

I sincerely hope that the new government can come to grips with all the root problems here and get the economy back on track, for it is a pleasant place to live, and of course the weather is divine. This will be the last entry for 2011  and outside it’s 20*C with wall-to-wall sunshine. Just the way we like it!

Have a wonderful New Year and may your blog audience grow beyond your wildest dreams.

Roy.                           

 

A New High For A Hopeless Justice System

Posted in Britain, Conservative Party, David Cameron, England, Europe, Extradition, Insanity, Justice, Police, Prison, Spain, Theft, UK with tags , , , , , on 16/08/2011 by floroy1942

You have to hand it to the British justice system, for they certainly win the prize for being the most inept in the western world.

Wanted - Martin Evans

If this isn’t true, then how come a prisoner sentenced to 21 years jail for massive fraud and masterminding a drug ring, was released ‘on licence’ for three days?  They actually expected him to return to prison to finish his sentence. Needlessly to say, he didn’t!

The man is question is Martin Evans aged 31, who was caught in the USA in 2001 and extradited back to the UK to stand trial for fraudulently obtaining £900,000 from investors in a bogus ostrich farm. He jumped bail  just before his trial, and ran to Spain and Holland where he got into the drugs business. Once recaptured, he was sentenced to 21 years in 2006.

All through the court procedures he refused to give up any of the money he had obtained from his activities, which by now totalled some £37 million. Apart from a huge house in Swansee and a villa in Marbella, his ill-gotten gains were spread throughout a number of bank accounts in Latvia, Antigua, Switzerland, Dominica and the UK.

He had already absconded from justice once, and had a massive pile of money stashed away, but still these idiots in charge of our prisons allowed him to walk out the prison gates on a three day pass, thinking he would naturally return voluntarily.

DevizesPrison

How naive and stupid can you get? Did they honestly think that a man with his obvious resources, would just walk up to the prison gates when his pass expired and say with a smile to the guards; “OK boys. Here I am , ready to serve the 15 years left on my sentence”.

There are times when stupidity reaches new heights, and believe me folks, this is one of them! Now of course untold thousands, or perhaps even millions, of tax payers money is going to be spent trying to recapture someone who should never have been allowed out in the first place.  Talk about barmy Britain!

The people who made the decision to let him out should be made to serve the rest of his sentence until he is recaptured. Now that is justice!

Roy.

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