Dangling in a one-way hierarchy

10th December 2007, Comments 0 comments

More than finding themselves on a workplace ladder, most employees in Spain merely dangle from a rope held by their superior.

More than finding themselves on a workplace ladder, most employees in Spain merely dangle from a rope held by their superior. Most Spaniards have a boss, but no subordinates to boss around, a new report by the National Statistics Institute (INE) shows.

The INE's 2006 active population survey found that seven out of 10 workers are employees who answer to a superior, but have nobody working under them. The report confirms that very few Spaniards, 9.3 percent, are independent workers who have neither bosses to answer to nor subordinates to give orders to.

Another significant trend that emerges from the data is the continuing existence of a gender gap in the workplace. Nearly 80 percent of employees with no responsibility over others are women, and that percentage rises sharply when it comes to higher positions. There are nearly twice as many men in charge of small-to-medium companies as women, and the ratio soars to 3:1 in the case of larger firms.

The INE report also looks at work habits and finds that the vast majority of employed Spaniards, 94.2 percent, work outside the home, with only three percent working more than half the week from their own residence.

Although one out of three workers took work home on a Saturday, working on Sunday is less common and only 13 percent said they worked two or more Sundays a month during the course of last year. As for night shifts, there were significantly more men than women who said they worked at night: 12.4 percent versus 8.5 percent. In all, just over five percent of the working population did night shifts on more than half of their working days.

The data for part-time work again shows the gender gap, with 324,300 people stating that they worked part-time last year because they were caring for a dependent, whether a child or an elderly person - of these workers, 96 percent were women.

As for unemployment, the INE found that half of those out of work were in this situation because their contract ended, whereas 216,800 were fired and nearly 50,000 left their jobs because of an illness.

Meanwhile, Labour Minister Jesús Caldera said last week that, at an upcoming EU meeting, Spain will support the elimination of an opt-out clause in current European labour legislation that currently allows employees to work more than 48 hours a week.

"It does not measure up to the standards of the century we are living in, and Spain will defend the European social model and the elimination of that exception," the minister said.

Spain's position is backed by France, Italy, Greece and Cyprus, whereas Britain and Germany are lobbying for greater flexibility. The latter countries have so far managed to convince Portugal, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, to propose an extension of maximum hours to 60 hours a week.

Regarding the rise in the November unemployment figures for Spain to slightly over two million - a 2.2-percent hike from October - Caldera said that this does not signal a change but "is part of the normal course of events" because it falls within the average figures of the last five years.

"The Spanish economy continues to generate employment at a very high rate," he said.

[10 December 2007]

[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL. 2007]

Subject: Spanish news

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