A CÁDIZ-BASED council employee who did not go to work for six years has been fined the sum of one year's annual salary net of tax.
Joaquín García, now 69 and retired, was put in charge of overseeing the construction of a sewage plant in the south-western coastal city but was never seen on the premises by those who sat in the offices next door to him.
His six-year absence was discovered when he became due for a commemorative plaque for 'long service' after 20 years as a civil servant.
According to García's solicitor, the council worker was bullied at work and humiliated in the press because of his family's political alliances being different from those of the local government he was employed by.
He was moved by the local authority to a public-sector-run water board as a result of these political differences, but there was literally no work to do when he got there.
García says he believed he was effectively being constructively dismissed, but that he was afraid to speak out because, if he got fired, he would never have found another job due to his age and would be left without a salary to feed his family.
With nothing to do, he came into the office a few hours a day – but not full office hours – and spent most of his time reading philosophy.
But the water board manager said he had never seen García in the whole six years he was supposedly working there.
He thought the employee answered to the council and did not get involved, but the council believed he answered to the water board manager and did not get involved either.
None of García's other colleagues had seen him in six years and thought he had left.
His salary was €37,000 gross, or €27,000 net - €2,250 a month, or in the standard 14 wage-packets given to civil servants with a double pay at Christmas and in August, €1,929 a month.
The council is only allowed by law to recover a year's net wages from him, and he has been ordered to pay them €27,000.
But García, explaining the situation, has written to the mayor asking to be let off paying.
The Spanish press has referred to him as the 'phantom civil servant' because of his six-year absence from work.
Photograph: Cádiz city hall, the council headquarters