Spain’s social services have axed 56,700 jobs over the past three years as part of a drastic austerity-driven downgrading of the country’s welfare state.
In what will be seen as further evidence that workers and society’s weakest are being made to pay the price of crisis originating in the banking sector and the EU’s draconian budgetary rules, new figures show the social care workforce has shrunk by 11.7%.
The cuts are almost double the loss of jobs throughout the services sector (5.2%) and significantly higher than across the economy as a whole (9%).
Most jobs destroyed were occupied by women and almost half of young people under 30, research by the CCOO union shows.
Although the social care sector employs a relatively skilled workforce, 27% are on temporary contracts (three points above average) and the same proportion work part-time (almost ten points above the figure for the economy overall).
Adding to the picture of a causalised, exploited labour force, the lowest wage (16,000 euros gross per year) is 28% lower than the average (23,000).
Despite this, Rosana Costa, responsible for social services at the CCOO, warns that further cuts are coming and that the job losses will continue to rise. One reason is reforms by the Popular Party Government of Mariano Rajoy that will see local government increasingly providing basic services only.
“Reforms aim to change the welfare model looking after people’s well-being to one in which care will be reduced to a minimum, focusing only on emergencies, “explained Costa. Indeed, Spain is already on going down this path. Social spending as a proportion of total public expenditure in Spain is 4.5%, lower than in Italy, 7.5% less than that of France and 11% lower than Germany.
Job losses in social services have hit the young especially hard-almost half of those dismissed (28,406) were under 30 years of age, and women. And 85% of jobs destroyed were women workers (48,300), who account for 87% of the jobs.
While the jobs haemorrage continues, 319 new small and medium sized businesses have been created in the sector while the share of private sector provision has increased to 78%.
News of more job losses and woes for services that look after some of the most vulnerable in society will add to popular anger at the government’s austerity policies.
In European elections the Popular Party and the Socialists – who pursued austerity policies before they were chucked out of power in 2011 – saw their share of the vote fall to below 50% while radical parties United Left and upstart Podemos saw a big increase in support.