Today is the Dia das Letras Galegas, another fiesta for Galicia. Apparently the 17th of May has been a fiesta since 1963. It began as a celebration of the centenary of the publication of Cantares Galegas, the first book of poetry published by Rosalía de Castro. It was, of course, published in gallego. Ever since then the Real Academía Galega has chosen a different deceased gallego writer, meaning of course one who wrote IN gallego, to honour on this day. (I wonder how they sneaked that in during Franco's time with restrictions on use of gallego.) This year the chosen one is Uxío Novoneyra (Eugenio Novo Nera in castellano) who was a poet and writer of children’s books.
So today no-one works in Galicia, apart that is from waiters, chefs, bakers, bus drivers and other essential service people! They should probably consider themselves lucky because reports show that some 11,000 gallegos have had to emigrate in search of work in the last year, an increase of 4.5% on the previous year.
And then there are the poor funcionarios, not a group you usually have to feel sorry for. After all, they have a job for life and everyone believes they all receive a good salary. According to my friend Pachi in the Italian conversation class this is not the case. She declared indignantly that she is barely a mileurista (earning1000 euros a month) because of the class of funcionarios she fits into. Her outburst was caused by Angelo, the Italian teacher, expressing his disgust that funcionarios had the facciatosta (Italian for cheek, cara dura in Spanish) to protest about the government imposing a 5% pay cut on them. Who’d be a civil servant? Everyone’s jealous of you and then the government gets at you as well.
It seems an odd system to the British. Thousands of people turn up for oposiciones, a competitive exam to enable you to become a funcionario. Those who pass move on to a competitive interview and of them a very small number get jobs. As teachers are included in the funcionario category, the same system applies to them. They are then assigned to a school; they can request an area but not a specific school. My Spanish friends are amazed at the British system where the school itself is allowed to interview candidates and choose who they employ!!! How free! How British!
My Italian friends are equally amazed for the same competitive system works in Italy too. And now good old Silvio Berlusconi has also decided to attack the funcionarios as part of his economy measures. He plans to freeze the salaries of the 3.5 million Italian funcionarios. At the same time he is considering raising the pension age for women in the private sector and delaying the start of pension payments for newly retired people by a few months. I wonder what they are supposed to live on in the meantime.
They are all doing it of course, taking measures to deal with the economic crisis, even the French. Now, in that country it is still possible to retire at 60 provided you have been paying national insurance (or rather the French equivalent) contributions for 40 years. Well, that knocks out all those people who extended their studies and put off seeking a job until they were about 30, doesn’t it?
What with the economic situation and the cloud of ash periodically floating around over our heads, it’s rather a gloomy time at the moment. Still, mustn't grumble. Thank heavens for Barça and Chelsea giving some people a reason to be cheerful! And then there’s Rafa Nadal doing his bit to cheer up the Spanish by beating Federer in the Madrid Open and doing jolly well all round. Keep up the good work, you sportsmen!