SPAIN last year created more new jobs than any other Eurozone country apart from Germany – an impressive 500,000 – with the figure predicted to double by the end of the year.
Yet, the huge increase may not be the green shoots of economic growth they appear to be. While President Mariano Rajoy claims that this is proof of successful labour reforms in 2012, designed to make the market more competitive, a Bloomberg Business article argues that the majority of these jobs are short-term, low-paid and dead-end, with 92 per cent being temporary positions and a quarter of these contracts were for a week or less.
Often, temp work is poorly paid, with an average of Spanish temps receiving 12,000 euros per month. And workers often end up in a succession of such jobs, regardless of how educated they are. Ester Mansilla, a 31-year-old cook from Madrid, states that, “You can have experience and education but it’s impossible to find fairly compensated full-time work.”
Since being laid off from a permanent job three years ago, she and her electrician boyfriend have had a multitude of temp jobs, with periods of unemployment in between.
According to research by economists, temporary employment is not the answer to Spain’s crisis since temp workers tend to be less productive due to a lack of on-the-job training. This is also unlikely to make the country more competitive compared to other European countries, and is worsened by the fact that there is little investment in research and development.
Besides, labour reforms have resulted in pay cuts for these workers and a freeze on wage rises for full-time employees but the hefty cost of firing workers also means employers choose short-term contracts over permanent ones.