Íñigo Errejón, the second-in-command at new Spanish political party Podemos, has been suspended from his research job at the University of Málaga (UMA) as a precautionary measure. Errejón, whose party has gained huge popularity this year as a result of its anti-corruption message, has found himself at the center of controversy over the terms of his contract with UMA.
Errejón was hired by the university to research housing in Andalusia, with a gross salary of €1,825 a month. However, it has since emerged that the contract specified that the politician should spend 40 hours a week working from the UMA campus. Despite this, the Podemos secretary has admitted that he was working on the project from Madrid.
The contract specified that the politician should spend 40 hours a week working from the UMA campus
Errejón had already announced that he was planning on leaving the post on December 17, given the increasing demands of his role in Podemos, which won five European Parliament seats after receiving 1.2 million votes in elections earlier this year. But the suspension has seen him removed from the job first.
“This is an administrative error,” said Alberto Montero, the UMA lecturer in charge of the research project, which was put out to tender but attracted only one candidate: Errejón.
Both Errejón and Montero, who is also part of the leadership of Podemos, are now subjects of a disciplinary investigation by UMA. They both have a month to present their arguments.
The university began a probe into the pair on November 21 due to the alleged breach of contract. After hearing explanations from the two, the UMA concluded that there were “indications that the conditions of the contract have not been met,” according to sources from the university.
Montero reportedly explained to the UMA inspectors that he had given verbal authorization to Errejón to carry out his work from Madrid, given that in the capital he would have “access” to more “bibliographic sources and statistics.” What’s more, the use of technology made “his work viable” at a distance, according to Montero’s arguments.
But while permission was given by the director of the project, no formal request to alter his labor conditions was made to the university.
Errejón released a statement on Thursday in which he described the university’s investigation as “a defamation campaign against some of the more visible faces from Podemos.”