This man from Barcelona lost his job in the previous crisis, went on to chain -when he could- temporary contracts and has been unemployed for two years
Manel Pérez have 55 years and he has been looking for a job for two years and can’t find it. Looking back a bit more, you haven’t had a contract of more than three months. He began to contribute at the age of 17 and until the financial crisis he was never without a job. After starting to collect pesetas as a messenger, he worked in the graphic arts sector. He was an editor of advertising and signs, the kind that try to attract the eye while one waits for the bus or the subway. Until 2012, at the height of the Great recession, when this Barcelonan lost his job and has never fully reengaged himself. “I have gotten a little job, but nothing stable,” he says; nervously squeezing the papers he brought to the interview with EL PERIÓDICO. In them he has spent his entire working life, the documents of the unemployment and a thousand other details. Accredits, lucid and methodical, all that counts.
The last contract he had was as an assembler of cologne packs, the kind that are sold in the supermarket. It was in the summer of 2019, the contract expired, he signed the settlement and until today. “I know all the automated responses that you get after sending the curriculum,” he confesses. “I just want to work and be able to pay for my flat and my food, it’s something very basic, which everyone should be able to do. I don’t understand why it’s so complicated & rdquor ;, he adds.
For him the previous crisis never ended. The pandemic has been nothing more than another chapter of the same nightmare and of the current recovery, which at the macro level are drawn month after month by the Social Security figures, he does not want to hear about it. “I admit that it has been a long time since you watched the news. I don’t believe it, I have enough with mine,” he says. How can politicians be so optimistic? Around me I only see people who are having a hard time & rdquor ;, he adds. “There is a lack of help for a decent life, especially for housing. Four months ago I applied for the minimum vital income and they have not told me anything …”, he says.
How can you live on 451 euros a month?
In recent years, Manel’s life has been a row against thick and thin. With no job or income, he had to sell his apartment when he still hadn’t paid off the mortgage. He got into a cheaper one, which he later had to sell again to keep shooting. In between, his partner with whom he had shared more than 10 years died. With the unemployment benefit exhausted, they granted him the subsidy for people over 52 years of age: 451.92 euros per month.
How can a single person pay for a room and eat with that money? “It cannot be done, of course,” Manel replies. “That’s where the cards come in,” he adds. This Barcelonian accumulates about 20,000 euros of debt in recent years, taking extra income from plastic to reach the end of the month with the minimum. Bread for today and hunger for tomorrow, because the debt is increasing.
If it was difficult for more than one person to manage being locked within four walls during confinement, having a debt that grows fat every day while job applications remain unanswered does not help. Desperation can play tricks and Manel some bastards gave him the tip. Searching the internet in search of employment, he found an advertisement to invest in bitcoins, which was nothing more than a disguised scam and which is currently being investigated by the National Police. “I was hooked by desperation,” he acknowledges. Since then he collaborates with several affected by the scam with ‘victifin.org‘, where they try to alert people to what are the most common tricks in this type of fraud and thus help to avoid them.
A collective scourge, not an individual failure
Manel started going to the association a few days ago We accompany you, in Biscaia street in Barcelona. A refuge where people who are unemployed -but not still- share experiences, job offers, take courses and make each other see that being unemployed is not an individual failure, but a scourge that affects more than three million people in all of Spain. This 55-year-old man recognizes that he has good feelings and that he has felt well received, although he does not hide the nervousness that surrounds him. Well, solidarity goes further than seems possible, but not to everything. And he suffers from the payment that the landlord who rents him a room will claim at the end of the month.
Two months ago he had to renew the subsidy – a procedure that was done automatically during the pandemic – and it passed. “I need work for now, yesterday it was too late. I’m scared if I end up sleeping on the street & rdquor ;, he says. After calling the SEPE -Without success- and searching the website, he managed to exchange emails with the employment offices and solve the problem to renew the subsidy and not run out of anything. “Until I get paid on the 10th, I won’t be a little calmer & rdquor ;, he says, twisting the papers with the imprint of his 28 years listed in his hands.