Workers at the Spanish Embassy in London and the three Spanish Consulates in the UK will go on strike indefinitely from Monday March 14th as they call for an improvement of their work conditions.
“It is possible that the provision of services by the Consulates will be affected, especially in London,” Spain’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
The Embassy and Consulates are responsible for issuing Spanish passports, offering assistance to Spanish nationals, processing visas for Britons who want to move to Spain and more.
“In any case, the provision of minimum services will be guaranteed to offer the highest possible level of attention to the public and justified emergency situations will be dealt with as a priority,” Exteriores stressed.
The strike group is demanding a salary update after thirteen years of reported wage freezes (equivalent to the accumulated inflation from 2008 to 2021), equal pay for all workers in the same administrative category and the option of contributing to Spain’s social security system rather than the UK’s, which since Brexit offers higher benefits than the British system.
Staff members will stage a protest outside the Spanish Embassy in London at 12.30 on Monday 14th.
📢ANUNCIO IMPORTANTE❗: a partir del 14 de marzo, servicios mínimos por huelga del personal de la Embajada 🇪🇸 en RU, y de los Consulados en Londres, Manchester y Edimburgo.https://t.co/5d7SAq8YYv
— Embassy of Spain UK (@EmbSpainUK) March 10, 2022
According to La Región Internacional, a publication aimed at Spaniards abroad, the strike has the support of the majority of the embassy and consular workers and follows months of negotiations during which the demands of the group haven’t been met.
As expected, the news has not gone down well among Spaniards in the UK, who have taken to Twitter to complain that the consular service offered before the strike was already subpar.
In 2021, Spain went for six months without having an Ambassador in the United Kingdom and there have been ongoing complaints for the past years about long queues, poor service and lengthy processing times, all of which have worsened as a result of Covid-19 and Brexit. The Spanish Consulate in London in particular receives a large number of negative reviews on Google and Facebook.
There are now reportedly dozens of Spanish nationals in the UK with expired passports who have complained that the Spanish Consulate in London offers a complex and arduous cita previa (prior appointment) system for renewing their documents.
Spanish consular staff already staged two strikes in 2015 and 2017 for reasons relating to pay and work conditions.
More than 200,000 Spanish nationals are residents in the United Kingdom.