After five months of meetings between Labor, unions and employers, the final drawing of the labor reform is not finished, but it has little left. On the table, at the moment, there are two non-minor subjects: The first, the study of formulas to reduce excessive temporality; ideas such as set maximum percentages of eventuality in companies, prohibition of work contracts o la hiring of permanent employees by temporary employment agencies that can be made available to other companies for occasional tasks.
The other big issue is training recruitment and the step between these work formulas and stable employment. The details of the Employment Sustainability Mechanism are also finalized, a hybrid between ERTE and ERE This will allow to reduce the working hours of workers in companies that are facing financial difficulties and to support with training the transits of employees who have to change sectors or companies.
In an earlier phase of the negotiation, aspects such as the concurrence rules of the agreements were addressed (the applicative priority to the sector pact on the company in the main matters, such as working hours or salary), the validity of the agreements once they have expired (it is stipulated that, in the absence of an agreement, the agreements will remain in force even if the negotiations to renew it are prolonged without success) or the limitation of subcontracting (to that sectoral agreements also apply to subcontracting, and it cannot lower the salary or working conditions with its own agreement).
The power of the employer to modify the working conditions of its employees is also limited by demanding supporting documentation of the changes that it intends to undertake, and that these be negotiated with the representatives of the workers. This whole package of measures is what refers to what the left and the unions have called in recent years “the most damaging aspects of the labor reform” of 2012. However, some of the most controversial provisions of the legislation of The labor market of the Rajoy era has not been addressed in this negotiation, such as the lower cost of dismissal.
November is the limit
It has to be said that none of these matters is formally closed, and that the dynamics of the negotiation table sometimes implies reopening aspects that seemed already resolved. The horizon to finish the negotiations, with or without an agreement, is that of the end of November, because the Government needs a few weeks to approve the text in the Council of Ministers and send it to the Cortes, and thus fulfill the commitment acquired with Brussels of have the labor reform approved before the end of the year. There is therefore little more than a month of dialogue; the next meeting is next Wednesday.
Despite the fact that on occasions the public statements of the participants at the table, especially those of the employers’ association, have cast doubt on the possibilities of an agreement, the truth is that all parties maintain confidence in being able to reach an agreement. “It is not impossible,” claimed a prominent union leader. “We are not going to leave the table until the end,” say CEOE negotiators.
Unions, businessmen and the Government know that an agreed text not only has more possibilities to last over time in the face of political changes, but also would be seen with better eyes by Brussels, which has always had – and maintains – a special interest in regulating the Spanish labor market.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.