Valencia had its week of fiestas last week called Fallas. Here in Spain we don’t really bother with a bank holiday on a Monday. If a fiesta is there to be enjoyed then it has to be for a much more extended time scale. Think about the upcoming Feria de Abril in Sevilla, last week’s Carnival in the Islas Canarias, the Magdalena in Castellon in the next couple of weeks and a whole host of other fiestas that exist in every small town, village and large city in the whole of Spain. They all span near to a whole week.
I have said many times before and will say it once more, Spain would boast a much larger economy if it could be bothered to make an effort. December is the perfect example as for most of the month involves some type of holiday. The summer traditionally was a time for rest as the cities got too hot and from that comes the Spanish tradition of shutting down businesses for a month in July or August or in the most extreme cases for the whole two month period of summer.
Look at it in another way though. I noticed this when I visited a coastal village to the North of Valencia in January. Everything was closed.Shops actually only open for the three month period encompassing the 15th of June to the 15th of September, some may open for 4 months instead by doing the whole of June and September.They need to make their dinero for the whole year in those three or four months though!They are still paying out for the shopfront rental, utilities minimum payments and local taxes during the 8 months they do not open.
Can your business survive under those circumstances? Well there are some reasons they may be able to.
I was actually amazed by the seasonal nature of the Spanish working calendar when I first arrived in Spain until I heard of the miracle of “pluriempleo” and contracts that are “Fijo Descontinuo” and this allows businesses to operate when the seasonal nature is high.
First Pluriempleo. This is having more than one job. Usually it is one in the morning and one in the afternoon and possibly another one at nighttime. It is forbidden for “Funcionarios”, civil servants, to have two or more jobs but many don’t take any notice of course and as their working days often end at 2pm many of them take casual work in the evening or these days start up their own little business.
However Pluriempleo also works in another way thanks to the type of contract talked about above.
A “Fijo descontinuo” contract means that you are employed for the season, whether that is for the apple picking and packing season or the holiday period and at the end of the period, maybe four months, you end but you have your job again the next year. This contracting method has been used and abused in Spain for teachers working just nine months at academies or ten months at private schools but then having to ask the State for unemployment benefits for the two summer months. Now that this particular type of contract has been closed up schools have been forced to give permanent contracts now if they want to keep teachers. The temporary jobs remain in hostelery and agriculture and many people go around the country from harvest to harvest and place to place permanently employed but never with a fixed abode.