Friday, December 3

Labor reform, minimum wage, riders … the continuous pulse between Díaz and Calviño

Yolanda Díaz and Nadia Calviño.

The gesture immediately went viral: during a parliamentary speech last May, the Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, assured: “Yes, we are going to repeal the reform of the Popular Party.” In the next seat, the Minister of Economic Affairs, Nadia Calviño, seems roll your eyes. Whether or not the eye movement responded to the words of her government colleague, the image was repeated in the news and social networks as a perfect summary of a relationship full of tension: that of the two main vice presidents of the economic area of ​​the Executive and their political visions, often conflicting. One, representative of orthodoxy, Calviño; another, who claims to be “the social democrat in Europe” of the Spanish government, Díaz.

Precisely the labour reform It has been one of the issues in which the difference of views between the two vice-presidents has been most manifested. Díaz has been strengthening his speech against the labor regulations of the Rajoy era as the legislature has advanced: “We are going to repeal the labor reform, we are in the Government for this. I am clear, we are going to do it and if we do not do it, the country, the Government and Spain will be wrong, ”she cried out during her speech at the PCE party in September. Calviño has always been reluctant to touch that legislation, and has preferred to focus on areas of the labor market that have less to do with the 2012 reform (such as the simplification of contractual figures) rather than on matters that are even included in the pact of Government PSOE-Unidas Podemos, such as the reversal of the application priority of the company agreement over that of the sector, one of the keys of the law approved by the PP.

But the longest-running dispute between Díaz and Calviño has been over the minimum interprofessional wage (SMI) of 2021. The fight began at the end of 2020, because it is usually in December when the increases for the following year are announced. So the battle was won by Calviño, who persuaded the rest of the government with his argument that it was better to consolidate the job recovery before raising low wages. Díaz publicly protested: “for the economic recovery of the country it is necessary to boost demand and for this it is essential that wages rise,” he assured on social networks, while proclaiming in interviews and television interventions that, like pensions and salaries of public employees, the SMI could also have risen 0.9%.

The revenge came in September, after months of low-intensity conflict in which Díaz came to align himself with the unions against the socialist part of the Government: in the heat of the need for an agreement within the Executive to carry out the project of General State Budgets, Díaz achieved a monthly increase of 15 euros for the SMI in the final part of the year; In addition, he reinforced his profile by presenting the decision as fruit of a personal negotiation with Pedro Sánchez, further underpinned by an expert report that endorsed the Labor position that the SMI had to rise in 2021.

Riders, ERTE and Europe

Although SMI and labor reform have been the subjects in which the dispute has been most sustained, the truth is that in a good part of the political initiatives led by Labor there has been a political struggle between Yolanda Díaz’s department and Economic Affairs. Work attributes the delay of the call law rider (the one that employed the group of home delivery drivers) to the objections of the Economy: the rule began to be negotiated in October 2020, but it was not approved until May 2021, and its scope was less than that of Díaz’s team aspired (it was limited to a rule of only two articles, and circumscribed only to home delivery rather than reaching more areas of the digital platform economy).

In the successive extensions of the ERTEs there have also been – government sources say – friction between Labor and the Economy, in this case aligned with the Treasury: Díaz has defended the most expansive measures (for example, the improvement of benefits up to 70% of the regulatory base from the sixth month of ERTE), while Calviño and Montoro preferred to lean towards spending control. And in the negotiation with Europe for the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, there has also been controversy: the financing of future post-covid ERTEs, these sources say, was already then (at the end of 2020) a reason for disagreement between Labor and the Economy.

Europe is precisely one of Calviño’s tricks to prevail in its conflicts with Díaz (also with the other ministries): as it is the key interlocutor with Brussels, the reforms and funds are under the competence of its department. Now, with the public support of Sánchez, he is preparing to direct the end of the labor reform negotiation before some social agents (sources consulted by this newspaper say) who do not want to participate in the fight between ministries for fear of shipwrecking a possible agreement when there are only a few weeks of negotiation left.

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