Temporality is the Achilles heel of the Spanish economy: competitiveness is lost there, unemployment overreacts in times of crisis and the business fabric and the socioeconomic structure of an increasingly unequal country are limping. But it is not just a problem for companies: Brussels demands that Spain also reduce abuses in the public sector. The Executive has committed to the European Commission, within the framework of the reforms associated with European funds, to undertake a reform of the Civil Service Statute before the end of the year, according to government sources, to reduce the number of interns.
The temporary employment rate of the private sector is close to 25%, but the Public Administrations abuse temporary contracts even more. Three out of every 10 civil servants are temporary, and the two main pillars of the welfare state, health and education, present very high figures: temporary employment rates of 41.9% and 29.1%, respectively, according to data from the Active Population Survey. Professors, doctors and health personnel accumulate one contract after another without their situation being regularized, in part because the Public Job Offer continues to be the only method to end this scourge, and it continues not to offer the necessary places to cover the vacancies accumulated in the last years. “These figures are not acceptable,” said Minister José Luis Escrivá a few weeks ago. “You have to solve it in one, two, three years; no more ”, said the Minister of Territorial Policy and Public Function, Miquel Iceta, recently in an interview in this newspaper.
The European Commission has been crystal clear in its negotiation on the reforms associated with European funds. Spain already knows exactly what the Community Executive wants: “Spain has a very high percentage of temporary workers in the public sector. How are you going to reach the goal of reducing that percentage to the 8% goal? Do you plan to include the reduction of the high rate of temporary contracts in a general reform of the Public Administration, including hiring? ”, Says Brussels in its response to the Spanish plan to spend European funds, according to the text to which it has had access THE COUNTRY.
Executive sources underline that Spain has already committed to reform the Basic Statute of Public Employees “in the short term, in about six months; in any case, before the end of the year ”. The same sources point out that this is not just a Spanish problem: the temporary nature of the public sector is around 16% in Germany. Spain, of course, does not plan to set deadlines to bring the interim to the 8% objective: “It must be done in a staggered manner,” add the sources consulted. Territorial Policy will address this reform together with the Ministry of Finance and together with the autonomous communities: the central Administration already meets the objective set in Brussels of 8% interim, but that rate rises to 37.9% in the case of the autonomies, with stratospheric peaks. 56% of Health employees in the Canary Islands are temporary, and more than 45% of workers in the education sector in Cantabria are temporary.
Disappearance of replacement fees
In Spain there are about four million people with a temporary contract; in Public Administrations the figure is close to 600,000, largely as a dark legacy of the Great Recession. After the rescue of Spain in 2012 and the subsequent harsh adjustment – despite the fact that the then Minister Luis de Guindos baptized the rescue as “a loan with very advantageous conditions” – the temporary period increased, with effects on job instability and quality. of public services, admit the sources consulted. The pandemic and the congestion of the public health system are just a reminder of that problem. Between 2012 and 2015, the replacement rates (of retired civil servants) were 0%: “Despite the myth that Minister Cristóbal Montoro helped spread that the Government did not increase the workforce in the public sector, the truth is that the Needs were met with interim officials. As a consequence, the rebound in the temporary employment rate skyrocketed as of 2017, ”the same sources point out.
The Executive intends to undertake a legislative change to reduce the perverse incentives of the Administrations on the abuse of the temporary service, with a model that allows temporary rates “where the needs of the service advise them”, and that in turn “converts in fixed contracts that are temporary without justification ”, according to the sources consulted. In 2017 and 2018, the PP Government launched a plan – which has not been completed – to reduce the number of interns to 190,000. Territorial Policy and Finance seek agreements with both the unions and the autonomies and in Congress to modify article 10 of the Civil Service Statute. “This is a very limited reform that will affect more than half a million families,” say Executive sources. Spain has announced that intention in Brussels, although the final answer will be sent in writing before the end of the month, along with the rest of the Spanish plan.
The Government presented at the end of December to the European Commission the vast majority of the 30 components of the plan to start spending when before the 140,000 million euros of the Next Generation Fund. And in January he sent the most controversial: the labor and pension reform. The reception in Brussels has been favorable: Spain is advanced with respect to the rest of the partners, and has committed to undertake a total of 170 associated reforms. Brussels complained about the “weak” Italian plan, but that has changed with the arrival of Mario Draghi. France has also improved its, and it has transpired that countries like Germany barely include reforms in their plans and intend that 75% of the funds received (22,000 million) be spent on plans that were already budgeted before Brussels created the Fund for Recovery and Resilience.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.