Blogging from the Murcia region of Spain until early June, when I return to
the Highlands of Scotland for a few months

'Fair and softly goes far' - Miguel de Cervantes

Friday, 1 January 2010

Strike action at agricultural plant near Mazarrón continues

A very Happy Near Year 2010 to all, but:

The labour dispute at the Agrícola Méndez company in Cañada de Gallego continues. The basic cause of the dispute is the non-payment of wages for several months (five months is the number being mentioned). Picketing at the company's premises has escalated over recent weeks with company managers alleging that threats against their employees (i.e. those who continue to work, presumably without pay?) have been mounting. A lawyer acting for the company now admits, for the first time that I have read: "Ceferino Rosell admite que la empresa atraviesa un momento crítico y que en los últimos meses no ha pagado a sus trabajadores, aunque explica que el agravante ha sido el embargo de la Seguridad Social." In other words, salaries have not been paid in recent months, the aggravating event being seizures [of funds] by the Social Security authorities.

What this seems to imply is that the company has in fact been delaying payment of social security contributions for some considerable time and that the social security authorities have finally acted to reclaim the funds owed, which one can only assume has pushed to company's cash-flow into even more critical territory, forcing them to suspend salary payments (which presumably had been continuing prior to that only because of the 'rob Peter to pay Paul' cash-flow tactics the company had been adopting). Assuming that it is fundamentally a well-run company, which it may or may not be for all I know, one is led to conclude that its order book from buyers has been less than hitherto, or that the prices commanded for its products have been under severe pressure, again presumably because of the wider world-wide recession.

Now the firm seems to be claiming that the current strikes have caused the company's difficulties, rather than being the result of what seem to me to be long-developing problems. Specifically, the firm claims that the strikes have delayed crop-harvesting so lost valuable revenue over the vital Christmas period. Undoubtedly true, but I think it unlikely that this is the root of what ails the firm, which may well have causes way beyond the local (assuming, as I mentioned above, that the company itself has been reasonably-well managed). From what I have read in press reports (and I've been reading a few over recent weeks) it seems that the Civil Guard ('Guardia Civil') police have been trying to maintain a difficult balance between the rights of the various parties involved, with the bitterness of the dispute provoking both sides into complaints that their rights are not being protected sufficiently. I wrote about this in early November here, before the labour dispute had reached its present levels.

So all is not sweetness and light in Murcia and Spain generally, as those of us who have property in the area know only too well, unfortunately. Nevertheless I wish again for everybody a 'Happy New Year' - we certainly all need it.

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