Auxiliares: English teaching assistants in Spain’s Valencia region complain they are ‘working for nothing’ after late payment shambles

NATIVE English speakers employed as language assistants by education authorities in the Valencia region will stage a protest on Friday over repeated delays in payments.

A campaign group calling themselvesAuxiliares de Conversación sin Cobrar’ – language assistants without payment – have called a demonstration outside the regional ministry of  education in Valencia for 1.30 pm.

Around 1,200 English speakers  are ‘employed’ in the programme within the Valencia region, and they complain that many still haven’t been paid for the months of October and November, with some told their payments could be delayed until February.

It isn’t the first time such problems have surfaced.

These native-English speakers assist Spanish teachers for 16 hours a week in the classroom usually over four days during term-time for the reward of a monthly stipend of €1,000, designed as a tax-free grant (beca) to cover living expenses.

In January 2020, language assistants staged protests after some of them hadn’t been paid for four months.

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Auxilares will protest outside the Education ministry in Valencia on Friday.

Anne Tiesenga, 50, who taught in a school in Catarroja in the Valencia region for three years and who was involved in the campaign before moving back to Chicago contacted the Olive Press to highlight the issue.

“The problem was that we are not strictly teachers, and therefore employees, but are considered as students who are given grants. So we didn’t have a union and didn’t have workers’ rights,” she explained.

Now the group is complaining that dozens of language assistants that they know of haven’t been paid at all since the start of the school year and many are still waiting to obtain a NIE and have not yet been given access to healthcare.

Jesse Sullivan from Seattle who moved to Spain to work in a school in Villareal in Castellon province said he has been living off savings.

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Jesse Sullivan says the way auxiliares are being treated is ‘surreal’. Photo: J Sullivan

“I’m lucky I had some money saved up that I can live on until the late payments come through,” he told the Olive Press.

“We have had to jump through all sort of hoops to get all the paperwork in order and we are being passed from one department to another, with no one taking responsibility,” he said. “It’s basically a whole job on top of the one we have in the classroom to try and get everything in order.”

Several teaching assistants have already abandoned their positions and gone back home. “How can we be expected to support ourselves and work for nothing for months on end?” he said.

“I lived in France for a while where bureaucracy was pretty bad but since I’ve been in Spain I’ve discovered it’s even worse!”.

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