25 April 2013 - Santander, Spain - Esther Arranz Puerta, 45, and her husband Manuel Angel Obregon, 44, in their home in Santander.
Manuel is a marble worker by trade. He was made redundant 2 months ago by his employer, Mármoles Martín Sánchez, a company specializing in the production of marble surfaces for kitchens and bathrooms.
Like many businesses that are associated with the construction sector, Mármoles Martín Sánchez has been affected by the recession and the end of the Spanish housing bubble.
Manuel now receives unemployment benefits. In the Spanish welfare system, these amount to 70% of his previous salary for the first 6 months, then to 60% of his salary for up to another 18 months. After those 2 years, if he is still unemployed, the only money he will be entitled to is an allowance of ca. 400 euros per month.
In the current economic climate he has little hope of finding another job, but is planning to use his marble-and-stoneworker's skills to try and become self-employed and set up a gravestone maintenance service for cemeteries throughout the province.
His wife Esther is a call centre operator at Unitono, a local call centre mainly subcontracting for Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica. Her job is by no means secure, as Unitono made 25 of her co-workers redundant at the end of April 2013, but she is hoping that her many years' work for the company will make her less likely to be considered for dismissal, as her redundancy pay would be higher than that of a more recent employee.
So far, the couple remain optimistic that they will be able to keep up with their apartment's mortgage repayments.
Picture credit: Pascal Saez/Sipa Press
- Pascal Saez
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