Yolanda Díaz has stepped on the accelerator to carry out her labor reform in Congress with the usual nationalist allies. The priority of the Second Vice President and Minister of Labor is to seek formulas that satisfy ERC and PNV without having to resort as a last option to Ciudadanos, an alternative that, however, does not displease the socialist part of the Government, for the moment regardless of the negotiations. Díaz held a long conversation in Madrid on Wednesday night with the president of the Generalitat and ERC leader, Pere Aragonès, and next week he will travel to Catalonia to campaign for the reform.
Work sources indicated that Díaz’s meeting with Aragonès, during a dinner taking advantage of a visit from the president to Madrid, it offered “positive” results. The ERC leader was more cautious in public. He warned on TVE that the positions are still “very far away” and he reproached the Government for not fulfilling its promise to repeal the entire labor framework imposed by the PP in 2012. Esquerra insists that right now the position of its 13 deputies in Congress is vote against the reform, when the decree law that regulates it is submitted for validation in the Chamber, on February 3.
Díaz and Aragonès agreed to continue the negotiations between the Work team and representatives of the ERC group in Madrid. At the same time, the vice president will travel to Barcelona next week to defend the reform in various public events. Next Friday he will meet with SEAT managers and workers and will speak before an assembly of 200 union delegates. In the meeting between Díaz and Aragonès, among other issues, one of the main demands of ERC on labor reform was addressed: recovering the administrative authorization prior to the application of the ERE in companies, suppressed by the reform of the PP. The Generalitat had transferred that competence, which, according to Aragonès on TVE, if it had been retained, it would have allowed it to intervene in a labor dispute of great impact in Catalonia, which ended with the closure of the Nissan factory.
Díaz’s team in the ministry has also maintained contacts this week with top-level leaders of the PNV and EH Bildu. In the case of the peneuvistas, their demand, shared by the other nationalist forces, is to establish the prevalence of regional labor agreements over state ones. The Government already raised that proposal in its day at the table of social agents that negotiated the reform, but ended up withdrawing it due to the rejection of the employer’s association.
Sources close to the negotiations explained that different solutions have been proposed on the table. One of them, according to government interlocutors, would be to incorporate the demands of the nationalists —the primacy of the regional agreement and the authorization of the ERE— to other norms outside of the labor reform, a way to satisfy the parliamentary partners without altering the text agreed at the table of social agents, which could seriously compromise the support of businessmen. In the case of the authorization of the ERE, the ministry already included in its Strategic Plan of the Labor Inspection, approved last December, the commitment to approve a new regulation on the matter. But the nationalists are reluctant to this formula, according to the same sources, and it does not convince the socialist part of the Government either. Official Labor sources limited themselves to commenting that “several options are being considered” and that at the moment there is no decision on any.
Díaz’s team sees more possibilities according to ERC and PNV. With EH Bildu, on the other hand, the positions are further apart, since the nationalist left insists on reversing the lower cost of the dismissal approved by the Rajoy Government in 2012, a condition that would surely cause the employer to dissociate itself from the agreement. Díaz, in addition, has stated on several occasions that this measure was not even contemplated in the government agreement between PSOE and United We Can.
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The Executive still has three weeks ahead to close support for a crucial vote for the future of the coalition between PSOE and United We Can. But Díaz wants to overturn without waiting in the negotiations with the nationalists and other smaller groups, such as Más País, to avoid what would be the last resort: the nine deputies of Ciudadanos, ready to enter into the agreement if the Government dispenses with its allies usual. The PSOE, which for the moment is leaving the vice president to lead the negotiations, would not see that option with a bad eye, unlike Díaz and United We Can.
The support of Ciudadanos, if it were accompanied by the rejection of all the nationalists, would not be enough to support the reform, although the Executive could also find some rare endorsements. The two deputies of the Navarrese People’s Union, for example, who have hinted that they will not support the PP’s no and choose to abstain.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.