I’m a British citizen living in Spain. I hold a legal residence card (issued 1993). My partner and my two kids are Spanish. I studied design, English philology and a master in education in Spanish universities. I can fluently speak three languages: English, Spanish and Catalan and have been teaching in different institutions for over twenty years.
The first reason behind writing this diary is that it may help me rid of the pent-up frustration of having to learn how to survive as an individual whose rights to live and work according to law have been constantly neglected by the Spanish educational authorities and the British government who has made NO attempt whatsoever to remind the Spanish government of the Withdrawal Agreement.
I also hope that my diary, helps other fellow citizens living outside the UK and who may also be experiencing issues of: discrimination, bullying, persecution, inequity, unfairness, prejudice …. You name it!
Brexit, my dear UK government has been a mess for many of the British people living abroad and it doesn’t matter how much effort you place in burying your head in the sand, the issues will still be there and apparently, we will remain fighting them ALONE. You may wish to put it to some of us living under the radar, you may even put it to some of us insisting in doing things “the British way”, but the fact is that many of us chose to live abroad before Brexit was even an idea and we faithfully lived according to the proverb “In Rome do as the Romans do”.
The majority of us did all our paper work and gracefully took the bitter pill when told that Brexit was to be decided without our votes and then, you went and turned a blind eye telling us to seek legal advice with an English-speaking lawyer when we started to suffer the consequences of Britain leaving the EU. As if these “difficulties” had been caused by a refusal to learn the language.
Today 20th of July, I am aware that my contract with the conselleria for teaching will soon be terminated and after not being allowed to take part in two selection processes; which have concluded, I can hardly expect to be able to obtain a short-term sickness leave.
So having said all that, here’s my “diary” with all the documents, articles and reflexion along with my testimony of being constantly discriminated against as an English teacher living in Spain. My fight is one of a battle after battle, and I refuse to just vanish into thin air without leaving a record that should put both, the Spanish and the British government to shame. Some of the documents I will post are altered for the purpose of privacy, however, I will deliver the information as accurately as I possibly can.
August 6th 2021
I’d been working at the EOI (Official Language School) for six years. I’d also worked in secondary schools, but I really love the challenge of adult education, so my aim was a post for the following academic year 2021-2022 at the same institution. I had applied for the posts that were available, but did not expect to obtain one, due to the fact that there were many other teachers in a better position among the candidates. Therefore, I expected to obtain a vacancy during the first week of September. However that morning, a friend texted, informing me of a resolution that the educational authorities had passed that very day. The resolution stated that five British candidates could no longer apply for teaching jobs in the Balearic Islands. I told my friend that this surely did not apply to me, as it surely referred to British citizens who had not held positions before Brexit. I was in for a shock because an hour later, my name was deleted from the list of candidates. There were basically two reasons for the exclusion:
- I was no longer a EU citizen and British citizens were supposed to have applied for a selection process before December 2020, which was not available until two months later – strange!
- There had been several complaints about British citizens being teachers in the post-Brexit Spain.
In the first place, there were only two British citizens who had been excluded, not five. It seems that the Conselleria mistakenly believed that increasing the number of excluded individuals would somehow alleviate the situation, but such tactics are not effective and are rather unnecessary.
Secondly, it is true that we were no longer EU citizens, but what about the Brexit deal? Were Spanish doctors and nurses being fired in the UK?
Thirdly, belonging to the list of available candidates is NOT a selection process. This was a misinterpretation of the BOE that did not make any sense. I contacted S* (labor union) for assistance, and even a person from this labour union blamed me for not doing my paperwork, which could not be done in the first place because teachers who have been teaching for years do not have to do anything else but check provisional lists to verify that all the information is correct, which I had obviously done.
It draws my attention that S* should go along with the Conselleria’s effort to exclude British citizens. Later on, when I called them – without giving my name- asking about being a candidate on the list – they were much better informed. They told me that the list was not for a selection process. Instead, it was based on points obtained through work experience, courses, and grades. I obviously knew this, but I needed to check.
And finally, concerning the several complaints against British teachers, this is not a reason for exclusion. Just imagine the scenario if those complaints had been based on someone’s race or sexual orientation. We are supposed to be residing in a democratic country where the government protects individuals from unjust treatment. Should these principles not apply to British citizens who are legally living in this country?
10th August 2021
I couldn’t believe it! It was a nightmare! I had been eliminated from the candidate list in the blink of an eye. There were two more teachers: one had recently passed a selection process; oposiciones (that I had applied for and had been rejected), so he would probably be all right. The other candidate had been working for a year or two and was not well positioned within the list. I tried to get in touch with her, but with all the privacy policies, I couldn’t. I contacted two labour unions, but neither of them were very helpful (remember this was August). I also contacted the UK government, which duly spelled out my rights, but also said that I was to seek out legal advice from an English-speaking lawyer. The next step was to contact the British Embassy in Madrid, however I got an answering machine asking me if I:
- had suffered from physical injury
- had had my documents stolen
- had been arrested
- wanted to report a death
How can you possibly establish contact when you encounter such a filter that refuses to help you if you have not been subjected to any of the problems mentioned above? I finally decided to stop wasting time and make the most of the ten days we have to file a complaint, so that was my next step, hoping that everything had been a mistake.
Later on, I eventually did manage to contact the embassy, but was told by the lady receiving my call that they did not know how to help me!
I had received no formal reply from Education concerning my complaint, and chances were that I would remain excluded from the list and the next dates for applying for posts were just round the corner. I called Education but unfortunately was told that my complaint had been irrelevant. They also kindly suggested that I should go and meet up with my fellow citizens to demand that Boris Johnson respected the rights of Spanish citizens in the UK.
When it comes to hiring a solicitor to argue a case against the authorities, one frequently finds themself with the door slammed in their face, not to mention the deterrent effect that fees can have. But not only this, somehow everybody seemed to agree (labour unions included) that not being able to continue working for the Spanish government had all been my own fault for… being British. However, being unemployed and suffering from insomnia allows one to spend a lot of time reading about Brexit and both European and British people’s rights. In this context, I asked Your Europe Advice for clarification.
And Challenge the decision is what I did by sending a complaint to the European Commission.
On December 10th, 2021, I received a response to my complaint from the European Commission.
The result was that a few days later, after an urgent meeting between the conselleria and the European Commission had taken place, the Directora General de Personal Docente, Rafaela Sánchez, published a new resolution where British citizens who had already been candidates in the list for possible teaching posts were readmitted. The former Directora General de Personal Docente acknowledged that the conselleria had made a mistake and that British citizens who came under the Withdrawal Agreement could continue working as they had been doing before Brexit.
The result was that I was informed that I would now be able to apply for sickness leaves, and that should I be offered one, wherever or whenever that may be, it was mandatory to accept it. As refusing to do so would mean that I would be eliminated from the list again for two and a half years (this is usual).
After the publication of the resolution 15th December, Education refused to accept responsibilities for the unfair exclusion as the consequences had been that I had not been able to apply for the positions available in September; where four positions had been given to candidates below me. Furthermore, the inability to work had resulted in the loss of valuable work experience points, which adversely affected my position on the candidate list for future applications. Therefore, in 2022 a lawsuit against the education was initiated. In March 2023, partial success was achieved when the authorities admitted that the exclusion had violated European law.
Happily back to teaching. Surely everything will be okay now, right? I was in for a “surprise”.
During the academic, 22-23 year, two different processes that aimed to provide teachers with job stability were taking place: the stabilisation process and the selection process. I applied for both and was turned down as a candidate for both, the reason being that I was no longer a UE citizen. Teachers are entitled to contest the authorities’ decision by filing a complaint, however, both were rejected. My lawyers also contested the decisions, however, the Conselleria has denied me the right to take part in these processes. For those who are not familiar with the Spanish educational system, I will explain what each one consists in and provide some details on how this has impacted on my professional career and mental health.
In Spain, the stabilisation process for teaching staff refers to a formal procedure aimed at providing job stability to qualified educators who have been working on temporary contracts within the public education system. The main goal of this process is to create a more stable and predictable work environment for teachers, which in turn contributes to the overall quality of education in the country.
Aim: The primary objective of the stabilisation process is to address the issue of temporary employment in the education sector. Many teachers in Spain have historically been hired on short-term contracts, leading to job insecurity and potentially affecting the continuity and quality of education. The stabilisation process seeks to remedy this by converting eligible temporary positions into permanent ones, providing teachers with greater job stability and promoting long-term commitment to the profession.
Eligibility and Application: The stabilisation process typically involves identifying teaching staff who meet certain criteria for eligibility. These criteria may include factors such as the duration of service, the number of contracts held, and the specific requirements of the educational institution. Teachers who meet these criteria are usually given the opportunity to apply for permanent positions through a formal application process. The process involves demonstrating their qualifications, experience, and suitability for the permanent role.
If a person fulfils all the requirements for participation in a stabilisation process, but they are not allowed to take part, it could potentially be considered a form of discrimination, particularly if there are no legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for their exclusion. Discrimination occurs when individuals are treated unfairly or unequally based on certain protected characteristics or criteria, such as gender, race, age, disability, or in some cases, employment status. In the context of employment and labour laws, preventing someone from participating in a stabilisation process despite meeting all the requirements is viewed as unfair treatment when the decision is based on discriminatory grounds.
In my case, being a British citizen who has been legally living and working in Spain before Brexit, I am covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. Therefore, If a British candidate, who is covered by the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement, is not allowed to participate in a stabilization process despite meeting all the requirements, it is considered a form of discrimination, and in this case, it is specifically categorized as nationality-based discrimination.
Competitive Examinations, commonly referred to as “oposiciones” in Spain, serve as a standardised selection process for filling permanent teaching positions in public schools. These exams are an essential part of Spain’s education system and play a crucial role in maintaining the quality of education and the professionalism of teaching staff.
The European Union has principles and directives that impact education in general, which could indirectly affect competitive selection processes for teaching staff. One of these criteria is the non-discrimination.
“Non-Discrimination: EU law promotes principles of non-discrimination, ensuring that individuals are not treated unfairly on grounds such as nationality, gender, age, disability, etc. This principle should apply to selection processes, including competitive examinations for teaching staff.”
If a person – me – has been denied the opportunity to participate in both the Competitive Selection and the Stabilisation process, while many positions have been filled by those who were eligible for either of these processes, it can indeed create a challenging situation for that person. Not to mention the impact on an individual’s mental health which can be profound when facing situations of unfair treatment, unequal opportunities, or denial of professional advancement. Such experiences can lead to feelings of frustration, disappointment, anxiety, and depression. The uncertainty and stress caused by these situations can take a toll on both a person’s personal well-being and their professional outlook.
My most warm-hearted thanks to David Petrie and the Italian Insider for shedding light and drawing the parallelism between his long-term fight against the Italian government to uphold EU law concerning immigrants’ rights to equal treatment for British lectures in Italy, and my present-day situation.
You may read the article on the link below