Closures, cement and education, the structural unemployment crossings in Sant Vicenç dels Horts

 the structural unemployment crossings in Sant Vicenç dels Horts

The crisis has taken its toll on all Catalan municipalities without exception … but not equally expensive. After the series of articles on the cities facing the recovery in pole position, the local editions of LaVanguardia.com now approach the opposite situation with a new cycle of reports. This week we bring the focus to a selection of locations that face the desired lift-off with more weight in the shoes. Chronic unemployment, industry in check, low levels of training and social cohesion, an indigestible public debt or recent closures of large companies are some of the factors that most drag the exit of the crisis to the bottom of the recovery.

The crisis has wreaked havoc in Sant Vicenç dels Horts : closures of companies, a still low educational average, sunken construction sector … Comparing their unemployment data with those of Baix Llobregat , it is clear that it suffers a higher percentage than the rest of municipalities of the region. The hardest years were 2013 and 2014. With the now vice-president of the Generalitat, Oriol Junqueras, as mayor, the unemployment came to rise above 24%, more than five points above the average of its neighbors, a whole drama for a population that does not reach 28,000 inhabitants.

Indeed, Sant Vicenç dels Horts is not – nor was it before the crisis – the economic engine of the Baix Llobregat. According to data from Idescat in 2012, it had a Gross Domestic Product of 535.9 million euros, corresponding to a GDP per capita of 19.2 thousand euros, below the average for the region (27.6 thousand euros). This figure is also lower than that registered by other neighboring municipalities with a similar number of inhabitants, such as Sant Andreu de la Barca (23.9 million GDP) and Martorell (60.2 million).

“The problem of Sant Vicenç is that unemployment has a structural component,” says Arnau Mata, spokesman for the municipal government, now commanded by Maite Aymerich after the resignation of Junqueras. “We were the last municipality in Baix Llobregat to have an institute,” he recalls. While it is true that the municipality started from a higher unemployment rate than usual before the start of the crisis, the differences became larger during the worst years. It is the low formation of its active population one of the keys that explain the high rate. Many of its citizens, with few studies, were excluded from the labor market when the housing bubble burst and the subsequent destruction of jobs related to the construction sector.

Create line charts

Create line charts

As in the rest of Catalonia, companies closed . A paradigmatic case in Sant Vicenç was that of FERCABLE . “We were the first company to suffer the labor reform of the PP,” explains Manolo Ortega, who was part of the committee of the company owned by the Prysmian Group. An ERO proposed leaving 95 families on the street in a plant that “continued to generate benefits,” according to Ortega. “They waited for the labor reform,” he criticizes. The workers camped for weeks in front of the cable factory. In the end they managed to relocate 40 companions and five obtained early retirements.

FERCABLE, after a crisis in the 1980s, was saved thanks to the establishment of a cooperative by the workers. A succulent offer returned the factory to a large company. The workers sold it. “The multinationals passed by but we still had the awareness that the company was ours,” says Ortega. But no, it was no longer his property, and the crisis took it away. “We were the easiest plant to close,” he says. The fate of Ortega was somewhat different from that of his teammates and Junqueras signed him to be part of his government team. Now it is precisely councilor of Economy and Finance in the consistory. “Things look a little different from here,” he admits.

Another case that caused a stir in Sant Vicenç is that of the emblematic Ciments

Another case that caused a stir in Sant Vicenç is that of the emblematic Ciments

Molins cement factory, where a large number of people from that town and from surrounding municipalities such as Pallejà or Molins de Rei work. In 2010, the collective agreement was extended but with the entry into force of the new labor reform it expired. During the negotiation to draft a new one, the company threatened the dismissal of 59 of the 191 workers of the plant. This caused intense mobilizations and calls for strikes by the workers. Finally, an agreement was reached through the collective agreement. Although the jobs were saved, that meant a change in labor relations in a company that for decades was characterized by solving labor problems effectively.

And is that because of its link with construction, the cement sector has also suffered the crisis with a sharp decline in domestic demand that has led to records comparable to the decade of the fifties. In the first quarter of this year, the consumption of cement in Catalonia registered a decrease of 4% over the same period last year, according to data from the employers’ association Ciment Català, a figure far removed from the expectations of the beginning of the year that pointed to a growth of between 5 and 8%. However, the external demand cushions the weakness of the domestic market and the good results of the international companies led Ciments Molins to record a profit of 50.8 million euros in 2015, 65% more than the previous year.

The powers of the municipalities to create employment are quite small

In Sant Vicenç not bet by a short-term policy, but tried to go “to the root of the problem,” according to Mata: education. “We have promoted a school success program that is placing us above the Catalan average,” says Mata. It is based on networking with help outside school hours. “We offer specific training to guide young people to the world of work,” explains the councilor, betting on collaboration between institutes and companies to get interesting job profiles for companies. The consistory understands that training is the only way to end the great structural unemployment suffered by the city. There is no other way.

In parallel, they also apply policies with a gender perspective. A program carried out in collaboration with the Diputación de Barcelona is about “empowering women to act as business leaders”, says Paco Rodríguez, Councilor for Economic Promotion. “We accompany them so that they feel capable of carrying out their own business,” says Rodríguez.

On the other hand, they also bet on facilitating the landing of companies in Sant Vicenç: they offer aid for those who hire unemployed people from the locality and provide them with a continuous advisory service. The self-employed quota is also paid to the new self-employed workers. “We must be prudent, but little by little we are generating economic activity,” says Rodríguez. For example, the food company Ta-Tung plans to arrive in the city in the second quarter of 2016, generating 75 jobs in two years. It will occupy the ship that Prysmian left empty.

This week the Regional Minister of Labor of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Dolors Bassa, has announced a battery of projects to encourage employment in the municipalities of more than 50,000 inhabitants of Baix Llobregat. Sant Vicenç, which does not reach this figure but would need these aids, will be left out.

Autumn and its festive bridges, perfect combination to escape

Autumn and its festive bridges, perfect combination to escape

Now that the ocher and reddish colors flood the streets and the low temperature is time to discover (or rediscover) some of the most surprising corners of the Spanish and European geography. These months, full of holidays and bridges, invite you to get out of the routine, make a trip to the countryside or visit cities without the summer agglomerations.

The melancholy and decadence of nature in autumn create a different and unique beauty. The charm of this station means that we can enjoy activities and destinations to satisfy all the senses.

However, a trip in these dates, can incur an expense that costs to assume. Companies such as Creditea provide customers with ‘online’, fast and flexible credits that are requested from any place and with any device.

Creditea helps to deal with these extra expenses, without the need to present guarantees or guarantees, since they understand the needs of their clients and grant loans in a simple way, up to 3,000 euros, and repay in a maximum period of 36 months.

Once the budget is done, prepare the suitcases and let yourself be enchanted by the magic of autumn.

LEÓN CONQUERS THE PALATE

LEÓN CONQUERS THE PALATE

León is the ideal proposal for those travelers who wish to enjoy a perfect combination between culture and cuisine. Its old town with cobbled streets picks up one of the most important Gothic cathedrals in Spain, started in the 13th century and finished a century later, it keeps intact its imposing stained glass windows, thus becoming a must for its architectural exceptionality.

In the city of Leon, recently named the Spanish Capital of Gastronomy 2018, you have exquisite cuisine, with cecina, botillo or peppers of Bierzo as three of its most emblematic products, until a walk through the emblematic Barrio Húmedo to enjoy the most traditional taverns recognized from the city. And is that traveling without enjoying the local cuisine, is not traveling. If you can do it this year, why wait for the next one?

THE AUTUMNAL CHARM OF HERVÁS

THE AUTUMNAL CHARM OF HERVÁS

In a privileged natural environment, north of Cáceres and with the Sierra de Béjar behind it, is Hervás, a small town in size but with infinite possibilities for the traveler.

It preserves very well the original structure of the XIV and XV centuries and its narrow and zigzagging streets show the Jewish past of this town, declared a Historic-Artistic Site, where buildings such as the Brotherhood, the old synagogue or the medieval bridge of the Chiquita Fountain .

This town in Cáceres offers different hiking routes such as La Chorrera, which flows into a 15-meter drop waterfall, where ferns and moss welcome the autumnal colors. Another alternative for the more adventurous is to take the mountain bike and get lost through the chestnut forests, thanks to the route of the Heidi trail.

TURIN: LUXURY OF AUTUMN

TURIN: LUXURY OF AUTUMN

If what you want is a plan outside our borders, northwest of Italy is the mountainous city of Turin, capital of the Piedmont region. Art, history and gastronomy make this city a unique destination where you can take a long walk through Piazza Castello and Via Roma to see one of the most important collections of ancient Egyptian objects in the world. The particular beauty of this city is best enjoyed during these times when there are fewer crowds to succumb to the charm of the medieval town or Valentino Park, which houses an 18th-century castle.

Autumn becomes the ideal season to savor local cuisine and local wines. Another reason to travel this fall to Piedmont is the International Truffle Fair, which takes place until November 27, in the city of Alba, 60 kilometers from the capital. This mushroom, also known as ‘white gold of nature’, can reach very high prices, only for the poorest pockets.

SKI AND SHOPPING IN ANDORRA

SKI AND SHOPPING IN ANDORRA

By the time the end of the year approaches and the first snows arrive, Andorra can be your destination. The mountain and the low temperatures are ideal elements to take the skis or the snowboard and to realize physical exercise, at the same time that you leave behind the responsibilities of the day to day. A trip to Andorra is the perfect plan for it.

The Principality occupies a privileged position in the Pyrenean mountain range and, together with shopping tourism, it offers one of the most important ski resorts of the peninsula, Grandvalira. The quality of its tracks – ranked 13th in the world with more skiable kilometers – joins the comfort of all its spacious and modern facilities. If you want to get away from the most common activities, you can opt for a dog sled ride or snowmobile or snowshoe excursions.

CHRISTMAS ADVANCE IN BERLIN

CHRISTMAS ADVANCE IN BERLIN

Everyone has to visit Berlin at least once in their life. Cultural diversity coexists with history and street art. An example of this is the famous image of the East Side Gallery on the Berlin Wall, which has been preserved after its fall in 1989, and was made by Thierry Noir to denounce the abuse of power that was produced by the guards who guarded the area border.

As an alternative to ‘street art’, we find the Christmas markets, which abound in the German capital. In particular, the one that is located under the castle of Charlottenburg is one of the most popular. In its more than 150 stalls we can find Christmas gifts, from crafts to old objects, small toys or accessories and, of course, discover the German sweets. If you travel with children, you can enjoy the magic of the carousel.