Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Badly informed - as usual

People tell me I complain. I usually think I am commenting or, more often, guffawing, at the preposterousness of whatever it may be. For instance in Of no fixed address

Anyway, as usual, I was wrong. Just ask Maggie. Always wrong. My address wasn't the real problem. True I had to go to Elda about 25 kilometres away where I was sent from one office to a second but once I was in the right place it took only a few seconds to change my address with the Social Security, with the Health people.

Back at the computer I applied for my European Health Card only to have the application turned down again. So I rang the helpline. I enjoyed the music and the mix of information and encouragement to not go away as the minutes ticked away.

The woman told me that I'm not employed, I'm not a pensioner and I'm not unemployed so I can't have a card. I explained that I have a job. She couldn't find me on the system and it took a while before she did. Ah, your contract ended at the end of June she said. Well, yes and no I replied. I have one of these fixed discontinuous contracts so I presume that although I'm not being paid I am considered to be employed. Not quite apparently. I have the right to claim unemployment pay and I would not be added to the unemployment statistics but unless I actually claim the dole I have no right to a health card. I checked that there was no problem with ordinary health care here in Spain and that was fine. I can get sick at home but not whilst I gad about Europe.

These contratos fijos discontinuos are designed for people who work in seasonal businesses. The job is yours when there's work but apparently the idea is that you go and draw the dole when the firm doesn't need you. Despite being entitled to unemployment pay people on these contracts are not registered as unemployed. A very odd situation and very easy for the firms to abuse I would have thought. Employ someone for eleven months until the summer holiday period, kick them loose with no need to pay them whilst they draw the dole and then take them on again when they have a nice tan. The other side is that people who have these contracts are unlikely to do much job hunting whilst they are temporarily out of work so they are a dead weight on the public purse. Apparently most of us on these contracts are women and lots of us work in food production, education and tourism.

Obviously my personal situation is a little strange. I'm sure that my boss would keep me working over the summer if I wanted to work. The truth is that it suits me and him for me to take a couple of months off. I avoid work and he doesn't have to employ somebody at a slacker time of the year. It has never crossed my mind to claim the dole.

I'd just better not get sick when we cross the border into Portugal over the summer.

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