At the moment I’m about to whazz off an email to Tenerife’s Cabildo (government) to ask to be put on the press list…again.

After the local elections on Tenerife it’s often ‘all change’ and that doesn’t mean the politicians. Unlike Britain where council workers remain constant, in Tenerife they are often allied to whatever political party is in power. Which means when there’s a change in political parties, there can be a change in the personnel who carry out the day to day administration of keeping things running.

Our first experience of this was a few years ago in Puerto de la Cruz when shortly after the last election we went to the town’s press officer to ask for contact details for someone at the Lago Martiánez. The press officer, who had only been in position for a few days, was clearly overwhelmed.

“Sorry, I’m still trying to build up my list of contacts,” she explained. “The computer records have all been wiped clean.”

Basically, she told us that the previous lot (which are now the current lot again) had made it as difficult for the new incumbents to do their job. I don’t know about you but to me this sort of behaviour demonstrates that the people who conduct themselves in this fashion have no interest in the welfare of the town they were supposed to be governing. It’s petty, destructive and doesn’t benefit anyone.

After the recent elections the post of International Press Liaison Officer for the Tenerife Cabildo seems to have disappeared. I say ‘seems to’ because although I’ve heard it through the grapevine there has been no official notification. Press releases just stopped. No word to say this is the new contact…nada.

How can people develop a desire to be truly professional and have ownership of their jobs if the job might disappear in 4 years? It is a ludicrous system that for me explains why customer service, efficiency and a passion for the job isn’t always what it should be in officialdom.

There’s another aspect to this wholesale job change and that’s the question of filling positions post election. I was involved in recruitment on a regular basis in the UK and whenever we wanted to employ anyone, the most stringent recruitment process was followed to ensure that we got the person who had the most suitable abilities, experience, qualifications, potential…whatever. We considered a whole range of factors before making a decision to be as sure as possible that we had the right person. And that applied from the lowest position to managerial posts.

So what happens on Tenerife? There’s often no recruitment process, especially for the most responsible positions. People are simply put into positions based on…well that’s the sixty four thousand dollar question. Forget suitable experience, in depth knowledge of the sector they’re going to be working in or qualifications etc.

It’s a complete nonsensical way to conduct business in modern Europe and is a system that is almost certainly guaranteed to make progress a bit of a non-starter.

At Tenerife Magazine we awarded some of Tenerife’s councils the TIT of the week award (This is Tenerife) because years after e-government has become the norm around the more developed parts of Europe, they’re struggling to maintain the most basic of websites…and that’s being generous.

E-government is way beyond their grasp at the moment. But given what I’ve outlined above is that really a surprise?

  1. José Miguel says:

    Hi. I’m a tinerfeño who enjoys reading your blog (despite my poor English) and couldn’t avoid a smile with your comments on council workers. Please, note that in Spanish city councils there are, simplifying very much, two classes of employees: funcionarios y personal de libre designación (officials and free appointment staff). Officials gets their jobs trough hard competitive exams but free appointment personnel is hired directly by politicians and fired at the same time. Not any kind of exams o qualification is required then you can find very incompetent people. A press officer belongs to this kind of personnel (free appointment… not necessary incompetent). They

    Canary Administrations (Comunidad Autónoma, Cabildos, City Councils) are ruled for the same basic laws that the rest of Spain. Proceedings, terms, rights of citizens, etc. are well established and obligatory. Note that administrative proceedings in Spain are writing not oral with very few exceptions. What you talk to politicians, advisers, etc. tends to be vain, then make your petitions written and following the legan proceeding (without prejudice to seek all oral clarifications and explanations you need). Of course, a problem is you need a good Spanish and a little knowledge of how system operates. It works!

    • dragojac says:

      Thanks José Miguel.
      That’s a really useful insight into council employment policies. I’m always interested in learning about how things work and you’ve really helped me understand a lot more. It explains a lot. I think offiicial systems can be difficult to understand in anyone’s home country let alone in another and also in a different language.
      In the blog, my criticisms are definitely aimed at some’personal de libre designation’. Presumably things like Ayuntamiento websites fall under their responsibility and that’s why e-government seems to be some way off for some of Tenerife’s ayuntamientos?
      I agree with your comment about vanity. It’s those people who put their ego before their town, municipality, island etc that for me are getting in the way of progress. I worked with central and local government in the UK and in comparison am often left bewildered by the behaviour and lack of professionality shown by some of the people I encounter through my work here. But, as you’ve explained, if people are hired that haved no qualifications for the role they’re asked to perform then that’s no real surprise. It must be very frustrating for the professional people working in councils on Tenerife.

      Thanks again for your valuable comments and your English is excellent 🙂

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