José Joaquín Sánchez has played clarinet in the Barcelona Municipal Band for the past 27 years, and today is his last day. They fired him, not because he didn’t do his job well, but because the City Council required him to have a C1 level in Catalan, a qualification he didn’t have despite fully understanding the language. He complained of suffering in Catalonia from a linguistic dictatorship that, he told us, had spread to many sectors.
Now, after almost three decades as interim consistory, José Joaquín Sánchez has to make a merit competition to regularize his position. “They use language to marginalize,” he criticized.
The Barcelona City Council includes in its competition rules the need to pass the C1-level exam in Catalan. If you do not do this, the remaining merits given to the candidate to keep his job will not be taken into account, and he will be formally excluded from the process and ultimately dismissed.
José understands Catalan after playing in a band for almost 30 years, where most of its members are Catalan and Valencian. He even got an A2 level in this regional language after voluntarily taking training in 2006. But the City Council asked him for a higher order: “I’m angry.”
José went to court
José’s hope now lies in the judicial process. He challenged the grounds of the merit contest by considering exclusive and unequal linguistic requirements and waited for a verdict: “I believe that no Spaniard should be prejudiced on this issue.”
You have been dismissed from your job for not proving a linguistic requirement that has been shown in daily practice to be unnecessary to perform your duties.
This is a situation that affects another 11 people, who were fired after at least seven years as interim workers for not showing a sufficient level of Catalan. These include architects, cleaners, warehouse workers, or janitors. “If it is definitive, we will return to Seville. The use of a regional language that has nothing to do with Spanish, as is done in Catalonia, I think, will not attract people to come here. This will lead to rejection. They use language to marginalize”.