I have been unemployed for three years. The company I was working for went bankrupt because the building sector was one of the most affected by the economic crisis in Spain.
Finding work is difficult for me. I’m 46 and, despite my experience, it isn’t profitable for a business for hire me because they would have to pay taxes for my retirement, even though I have fewer working years ahead of me than behind me. I also have two-year-old twins, and having a family life is thought of as a handicap today in Spain - with those kinds of responsibilities, you can’t stay late at the office.
“My wife was fired because she was pregnant”
For my wife, choosing to have children was also a sacrifice. She’s a psychologist, and worked for a public welfare centre before getting pregnant. She was fired because they apparently considered a pregnant employee not to be profitable, not to mention having to pay for her maternity leave and for someone to replace her.
Our financial situation is very difficult today. We have no income, not even benefits for the children. When you have a baby, you get between 1,000 and 3,000 euros in benefits from the state, which is means tested, but after than, nothing. Also, whether you are unemployed or have a job, the amount of money you get doesn’t change. We get by today thanks to my parents’ retirement fund, with which we also have to pay 500 euros a month for the mortgage I took out to buy our apartment back when I was working.
My parents are sad to see us leave because of the crisis. During the 1960s, they also moved to find work; they lived in Germany for about 10 years. At the time it was normal, especially for non-qualified workers. They made sacrifices to pay for our education so we didn’t have to go through the same thing, but in the end, we’ve had to leave Spain to find work elsewhere too.
We hope to leave Madrid this summer. I spend my days on the Internet or on the telephone, looking for work opportunities. One of the countries we’re looking at is France because it’s not too far away and I speak French. There aren’t many job offers in other European countries either, but it’s still better than in Spain.