Archive for Recession

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.


Why A Spanish Banking Crisis?

Posted in Europe, Government, Insanity, Modern World, Spain with tags , , , , on 18/06/2012 by floroy1942

More than enough people have been asking why and how the Spanish banks got in to such a state that they needed another bailout. Well, I can tell you from personal experience that one of the reasons is massive inefficiency.

My wife and I had cause to go to the S……… bank in Marbella to send money to a friend in Romania, and I was appalled at the sheer inefficiency of the service. If you wish to send money outside the country to someone who does not have a bank account of their own, you can only do it from certain banks, and then only if you have an account with them. In our town the only one that would do it without us having an account is the one ‘mentioned’.

We regularly send money to Romania, but to do it I have to show my passport and give them the special code of the place where the money is to be sent, one of the most popular being a Western Union office. A couple of years ago my details were entered into the banks computer and we made the transfer. Last year I had to renew my passport, but instead of just being able to update my information I found they had deleted it all. So with the new passport I had to start from scratch, meaning we had the approval process of one month to go through again. More time wasted. This finally worked for a short time, but when we went back last month they couldn’t find me in their computer again.

We were told that once they had sorted out the problem they would give me a call and we could make the transfer. Guess what? After a month we still didn’t get a call (surprise! surprise!). So off we trotted to the bank again to find out what the hell was going on. After waiting a considerable time, we got to talk to the lady who took another fifteen minutes to find my data, check my documents again and finally fill in the transfer form.

By this time a queue of at least twenty-five people had built up behind us at the cash desk, but we were told we would have to wait in line. If the service had been even adequate, she could have taken the money and we would have been out of there. Instead we spent another thirty-five minutes waiting in the cashier line. There were three positions but only two were manned and the cashiers themselves seemed to know only two speeds, dead slow and stop!  Finally a young man opened up the third desk and things moved to just above a snail’s pace.

To cut this short, it was a very frustrating hour and fifteen minutes waiting around at the whim of a bank that doesn’t have a clue on what the word efficiency means. The money clutched in my hot sweaty little hand waiting to be sent was my money, and on top of that I had the €3 admin fee in my hand as well, so if I am taking my money into the bank, paying their expenses for doing the transfer, why am I given so much hassle???  With most banks, why can I only do if I have an account with them?

I am sure that most people will not believe this but it is a verifiable fact that Spain has 109 different banks, only 9 of which are inter/national. This means that there are 100 regional and spanish city banks. The UK for example has only 9 banks, while France has 24, and these figures include regional banks that come under the main banking groups.

In Spain however, the 109 are independent banks all trying to make money from the Spanish people. Personally I fail to see how such a system has developed, because it seems that apart from the regional banks, cities like Seville, Malaga and San Sebastian all have their own local banks, but it goes down to town level too. To a foreigner it is without doubt a chaotic system especially when you consider that many of the smaller banks do not provide a full banking service at all.

One thing we all need to remember is that the Spanish way of doing things is to say the least, chaotic. The banks in Spain cry about their ‘toxic debts’ and cite that as the reason for the banking crisis. True, there is a massive slump in house purchases and many economic problems over the last three years, but their attitude to solving them is crazy to say the least.

Families who bought property during the ‘good old years’ are being thrown out on the street because they can no longer keep up with their mortgage payments. When this happens the house is repossessed by the banks and is added to the massive number of houses that cannot be sold (currently estimated at 215,000) because no-one can afford them. Surely it makes more sense for these people to stay put and pay off their mortgage at a reduced rate until things get better. In this way at least the banks would have some form of income from their holdings instead of the property standing empty with no-one wanting to buy, and thereby generating no income whatsoever. In our area alone there are places that have been repossessed and are still waiting to be sold after three years. 

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Spain is sinking deeper and deeper into crisis and how they are going to extract themselves is still a mystery. It will not change until someone in the government decides that the lazy individuals in the country need to get up off their asses and start working efficiently. Government, local council offices and the law all need a swift kick up the backside and some rapid instruction on how to do things in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Otherwise, I see more dark clouds on the horizon. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great country and most of the people are great, but the leadership and know-how needs to come from the top. For decades this has not been happening because most of those in charge are too busy lining their own pockets. Come on Spain – Get off your backside and start marching forward!


Gordon Brown’s Letter to Those Nearing Retirement.

Posted in Britain, England, Insanity, MP's, UK with tags , , , , , , on 25/02/2010 by floroy1942

This letter has been sent to all UK pensioners and those nearing retirement – I think!


(Just in case I get sued for libel, it’s a joke OK)

Beware the Ides of March

Posted in Britain, Demonstration, England, Insanity, Modern World, UK with tags , , , , on 31/01/2009 by floroy1942

A world financial crisis followed by civil unrest begs the question: What next? World Governments have bailed out the Banks and the Car Industry to prevent financial meltdown, and now the People say: “What about us”!

World-wide, millions have lost their jobs and are seeking relief from the deprivation of a recession that was not their fault. Strikes and demonstrations are hitting more and more countries, and its spreading like wildfire, but what should be done about it?

There is some justification in what people are saying, insofar as the architects of the crisis are still sitting in their Wall Street and London offices (among others), getting their bloated salaries and bonuses while people on the street are losing their homes and having to tighten belts.

The whole crisis was caused by greed and mismanagement on the part of the Banks Fat Cats, who were so intent on buying up the competition they forgot to keep an eye on the petty cash. So why do they still have their jobs, let alone their huge bonuses?

It is a disgrace of world proportions that tax payers money has been used to pay these incompetents obscenely inflated bonuses for crass stupidity.

As an example, at a time when the Banks were being bailed out by the Government to the tune of billions of dollars, the leaders of these institutions were paying out billions in bonuses to their employees. One London based Company C.E.O approved payment of four billion to its workers at the same time they were receiving untold billions from the Government to keep the Company afloat.

The idea of paying your successful staff a large bonus was introduced to reward those workers who performed their function in an exemplary fashion and brought in huge profits. Over the years, this has been corrupted to mean that any Tom, Dick or Harry will get a bonus even when he is a major failure. Look at the past few years, where some C.E.O’s have been given severance pay of over €150,000,000 when forced to resign after some major cock up.

It is despicable that these people continue to get their huge handouts when their Banks/Companies are on the verge of bankruptcy and have to be bailed out by the Government, and by that I mean of course the Tax Payer.

Leaders from many countries have echoed the words of Gorden Brown of Britain when he complained that after the bank bailout, the banks were still refusing to start lending money again, or even pass on the full interest rate cuts made by the Bank of England, the World Bank and the American Treasury among others.

So you see, there is some justification for the general unrest that is happening all over the world, even if the protests are not being channeled in the right direction.

Civil unrest is now being aimed in various forms at Governments because that is where ordinary people lay the blame when times get hard, but what they should be pushing for is responsible management of our monetary system by the Banks, and in particular the Leaders of these institutions.

Bonuses are fine in the banking industry, but they should be brought down to a reasonable level, say €10,000 for a successful employee, and perhaps €100,000 for a good C.E.O. not €1,000,000 and €100,000,000. That is ridiculous. Why should anyone, no matter how successful, earn more in one day than the average man in 10,000 years. Its not just ridiculous, its obscene!

If you fail in your job you should be kicked out on your ear without any bonus at all. Failure should not be rewarded at any price!

If the general public start seeing heads roll in the Financial Sector it may help to calm the tumult in the market place, at least it would be a start, and may head off total anarchy!

Keep your powder dry!


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