Protest in St Peter's Square in Manchester. / SUR

Spanish Foreign Office workers in the UK warn about visa application delays due to indefinite strike

The strikes have been ongoing since 14 March, in protest against salary inequality and job insecurity. The UK offices have been dealing with a significant rise in visa applications since Brexit

LILY FARRANT

The Spanish Embassy and Consulates in the United Kingdom have been running on a reduced staff basis for urgent services since Monday 14 March, when employees went on strike to protest their work conditions.

As per Spanish rules, a reduced staff service is in place to provide help with urgent and basic services. However, although the offices are still operating, there are delays in processing visa applications due to a decrease in staff numbers.

Since Brexit, British citizens have to apply for a visa to stay in Spain for longer than 90 days in every 180-day period. This has resulted in a significant rise in visa applications, adding to those of all other foreign nationals who can no longer use their UK residence card to travel to the European Union.

This increase in visa applications challenged the Consulates last summer, when they struggled to provide appointments to every applicant on time. It is believed that working with fewer members of staff could lead to a similar situation.

Almost two weeks have passed since Spanish Foreign Office employees were called on strike, but little has been heard from the Government in Madrid or the Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, who, so far, has failed to sit at the negotiating table. Workers are asking the Spanish government to end years of wage freezes and job insecurity as inflation keeps rising.

In a statement, representatives of the employees have said that the strike will go on for an indefinite period of time until their demands are met.