General Secretary of the General Union of Workers (UGT), Pepe Álvarez (left) and General Secretary of the Workers’ Commissions (CCOO), Unai Sordo, Europa Press
The government can’t interfere with the deals, but it can interfere with corporate taxation to cover a fund for those in need. Union headquarters will reach out, but will not allow other actors to deprive them of their representation. Eliminate the term “lease” from political and socio-economic language. There won’t be.
Not long ago, on March 2, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez seriously suggested the need to develop a “national plan to respond to the effects of war” and to promote an “income pact”. The former is underway, despite the serious difficulties it has endured in Congress. In view of the outrageous differences between unions and employers, however, nothing is on the table from the collective agreement. The government already knows there is nothing to be done; the second vice president, Yolanda Díaz, claims she was never at the negotiating table. The announcement was made by the President in Congress. Next will be union pressure on the executive branch to act with fiscal means and raise corporate taxes. Even without alarmism, union headquarters are preparing national concentrations of their delegates to oversee the negotiation of agreements one by one once global collective bargaining has failed. The call for a strike enters the hypothesis of disagreement.
The inertia of bottom-up agreements has been broken. Due to many attempts by the government, especially the labor secretary, to pull the social agreement car, this does not seem possible. Unleashed inflation worsens the executive branch’s cheerful discourse on job creation. This price increase without wage increases is the workhorse of the unions, with the understanding of the government and the rejection of the employers. The swords are high with the union demand for an increase of 3.5% and above all a salary adjustment clause at the end of the year. Stability and balance for workers and businessmen are the repeated slogans that lead nowhere.
“If that had happened with a PP government, the unions would have called several strikes.” This prediction is repeated in conservative circles but rejected by the executive, which responds by flaunting the agreements reached between social actors with little or no support from the parliamentary right. This satisfactory situation has put an end to the new evils brought about by the war in Ukraine, which have exacerbated inflation and energy problems. The unions, with Unai Sordo and Pepe Álvarez at the helm of CC OO and UGT, affirm that they want agreements and not conflicts and will therefore do their best to “move the CEOE to more balanced positions”, emphasize the interlocutors of the unions. But there will be warnings, warnings and a show of union muscle. Before the end of June, there will be two major mobilizations in front of the headquarters of the territorial business associations across Spain to advance the negotiation of the agreements. There is no desire to call strikes, but there will be if the deals end in frustration for workers. This matter is not the government’s responsibility, but it is aware that the demands of the unions are not exaggerated given the loss of purchasing power with inflation at 8.4%, albeit declining.
The context is not good for any of the actors. Elections in Andalusia in less than four weeks; Congress of the CEOE employers’ association ends with the sure re-election of Antonio Garamendi; Struggle between the parties of the left, led by the PSOE, to stand up as guarantors for the needs of the less affluent classes and the unions. At that time, the right was waiting for social peace to falter. The government already knows that the unions will soon “be bolder”, the authorities stress.
An inflation adjustment benefit can be one of the measures aimed at low-income earners. An increase in the minimum corporate tax rate of 15% could be the basis for this help for the needy. The answers of the CEOE are flatly rejected in this context: link salary increases to productivity and forget inflation altogether. If wages rise, so do prices and the spiral of inflation, claims the supreme economic organization. Impossible for unions to accept these arguments. A meeting of the social agents with the second levels of each organization will be celebrated today, where figures will be on the table. It is about discussing the difficulties of certain sectors of the economy, especially the hotel industry, when looking for workers. Trade unions carry their local knowledge with them. Maybe it has something to do with the offer of 1,200 euros salary, long working hours and rent payments that can be between 600, 800 or 900 euros depending on the city.
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This is being discussed at this negotiating table today against the background of concerns about the risks associated with excessive stretching of the social rope. Unions remain willing to agree on the front lines, but without being cornered or replaced by other actors.
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