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 Antonio Burgos
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El Mundo de Andalucía,  jueves 24 de febrero del 2004

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Salir en "Financial Times"

Lo mismo que los políticos no existen hasta que no salen en las coplas del Carnaval, las realidades económicas no existen en este mundo globalizado hasta que aparecen en el "Financial Times".

-- En ese caso no existe Zarrías, usted...

-- Pues tiene usted razón, ¿de qué le sirve a Zarrías ganar el mundo, si su foto no sale en el "Financial Times"?

-- No, no digo en el "Financial Times", sino en el "Times" irónico de las coplas de Carnaval. Me ha visto enterito todo lo que han echado de Carnaval por Canal Sur y allí las chirigotas se han metido con Aznar, se han metido con Teófila, se han metido con Zapatero, pero muy poco, casi nada, se han metido con Letizia, se han metido hasta con el mismo Don Juan Carlos I y con todas sus castas dinásticas, pero no han dicho ni palabra de Zarrías.

-- O a lo mejor lo han dicho, pero no lo han puesto en Canal Sur. Tenga usted en cuenta que quien dice lo que sale y lo que no sale por Canal Sur es Zarrías, para que luego hablen de que las listas negras están en Televisión Española.

-- Pues vuelvo a insistirle que las chirigotas ésas que tanto le gustan a usted, aunque a mí me repatean el hígado, no han dicho ni palabra de Zarrías. Quien se ha inventado el homenaje a Juanito Valderrama para salir un poquito más en televisión.

-- ¿Cómo el homenaje a Juanito Valderrama?

-- Sí, el "Tributo Flamenco a Don Juan"...

-- ¿Ah, pero no ha sido al revés? ¿No ha sido el homenaje que Juanito Valderrama le ha dado a Zarrías? Si en Madrid no se hablaba de otra cosa. La gente se preguntaba: "Oye, ¿quién ese así como achinado, con el sombrero de ala ancha, que ha salido en todas las televisiones al lado de Gaspar Zarrías?

Y rabia, rabiña, que aunque Zarrías haya salido en el homenaje que le han tributado El Cigala y El Bogavante y la Langosta de Maine si hace falta, no ha salido en el "Financial Times". La que ha salido en el "Financial Times" ha sido Castilleja de la Cuesta.

-- Por las tortas, claro...

-- No, por Ikea.

Esto es lo malo. Estamos en pleno triunfalismo económico de la campaña a lo Miguel Hernández con eso de que Andalucía "se crece". Término como del toro del poema de Hernández: "como el toro me crezco en el castigo". En la demagogia de la campaña, Andalucía está en luna creciente. ¿Cómo está en la realidad? Pues como dice el "Financial Times". Lo diremos en el mismo inglés de las páginas salmón: "The region with the highest unemployment rate - 18.5 per cent - in Spain". Así es como sale Andalucía de imparable en el salmón mundial. Y lo que elogian allí no es lo que han hecho los andaluces en Andalucía, ni las gentes de Castilleja en Castilleja. De las tortas de aceite, ni mijita. De los tocinos de cielo de Gaviño, ni palabra. De las haciendas convertidas en hoteles con encanto, cero cartón. De lo que habla el "Financial Times" es de Ikea, de cómo la empresa sueca ha creado empleo en sectores abandonados por la política laboral oficial: los jóvenes, las embarazadas, los que son rechazados en la desesperanza del envío de currículos. La Andalucía que sale en el "Financial Times" no es la que nos pintan en la demagogia de las campañas, ora del PP, ora del PSOE, sino, ay, la de siempre. La que se mueve a impulsos de emprendedores llegados de fuera. La misma Andalucía de la burguesía extranjera que en el XVIII le dio el estirón al Marco de Jerez y en el XIX a la industria de Málaga. Está bien que el modelo que elogien sea el de Ikea. Así podemos ir y comprarnos una silla a esperar que sea verdad tanta demagogia económica que, como es falsa, no sale en las páginas salmón del "Financial Times".


EUROPE: Swedish job formula finds favour in Spain

By Leslie Crawford
Financial Times; Feb 24, 2004

Wanted: single mothers, students, people with disabilities and long-term unemployed, to work for prestigious Swedish multinational. No previous experience required. Generous benefits.

More than 30,000 applicants responded to Ikea's advertisements in Seville, where the Swedish furniture group last month opened its fifth megastore in Spain. Ikea's recruitment drive caused a commotion in Andalucia, the region with the highest unemployment rate - 18.5 per cent - in Spain. Never before had a big company sought applications from those traditionally consigned to the bottom of the heap in Spain. At Ikea's new warehouse in Castilleja de la Cuesta, in the outskirts of Seville, the air of gratitude was palpable.

In Andalucia, as in the rest of Spain, female unemployment is double that of men. Women earn 30 per cent less than men, on average, and are more likely to be trapped in the revolving door of fixed-term contracts. In defiance of the law, pregnant employees are often fired. As a result, housewives such as Maria Angeles Clemete, a 35-year-old mother of three, had given up on ever getting a job.

"I married young. I don't have a university degree and I had never worked before. I thought my chances of being selected at Ikea were nil," Mrs Clemente says.

Yet she put in an application because the store was just up the road from where she lives. "And here I am, working in the potted plants department, five days a week."

Four of her neighbours - all women - and a neighbour's son, have been hired by Ikea. A part-time contract allows Mrs Clemente to look after her children in the afternoon.

Ikea has hired 350 people to work in its new store. Juvencio Maeztu, the Andalucian store manager, says Ikea's employment model in all countries is to target those who really need the jobs. He was offering part-time jobs where there were few to be had, and training for those who had never worked before.

People with disabilities have been taken on in the customer services, administration and logistics departments. The selection process lasted six months, Mr Maeztu says. "We were more interested in finding people with the right motivation than with the right college degrees."

Ikea's progressive hiring policies may be standard practice in Sweden, but they are almost unheard of in Spain. The Seville store attracted nationwide television coverage, and Ikea, which plans to open 22 new stores in the Iberian peninsula over the next 10 years, has become something of a beacon for job seekers desperately hunting for enlightened employers.

And in a nation of small shopkeepers, Ikea is sensitive to the impact of megastores and their negative image.

Not long ago, Sánchez Romero, an upmarket supermarket chain, was shamed when a radio journalist found some of the company's job interview notes that had been cleared out and dumped in rubbish bags outside its Madrid head-quarters.

"A fattie. Pig faced, poor make-up," said one interview note. "South American. Dark, without being black. Coffee and milk, long on coffee," read another. "No - because mentally handicapped. Buck teeth, speech impediment." "Foreigner, dark-skinned, hungry-looking."

A spokesman for Sánchez Romero denied the company discriminated against foreigners, handicapped or ugly people, and denied any knowledge of the interview notes. Many Spaniards suspect, however, that in a country with a jobless rate of 11 per cent - the highest in Europe - this kind of discrimination is common.

The ruling Popular party, which is fighting a general election next month, prefers to accentuate the positive: more than 3m jobs created during José María Aznar's eight-year premiership, increases in child benefits for working mothers, and government subsidies for employers who take on young people and those over 50. Last year Spain created half of all the new jobs in the European Union.

A recent European Commission report, while praising Spain's progress in reducing unemployment, nevertheless questioned the quality of the jobs being created. Too many were insecure, fixed-term contracts where pay and productivity were low, it said. The abuse of fixed-term contracts is so widespread that Spaniards have coined a phrase for them: "contratos basura", or rubbish contracts. Companies that provide cleaning services are some of the worst offenders. Trade unions have begun to organise against them.

Spain's economy ministry admits that some employers are making excessive use of fixed-term contracts to circumvent contractual obligations such as having to provide pension or unemployment benefits. It says it is trying to close the loopholes in Spanish employment law.

At Ikea, meanwhile, Mr Maeztu is more concerned with keeping his employees happy than the ease with which he can fire them. "We devote a lot of time and effort to getting the right mix of people," he says. "I don't want them to leave."

This column appears every Tuesday


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