Wednesday, August 10

The Executive leads the labor reform to two different negotiations in the absence of a month

Pedro Sánchez, Nadia Calviño and Yolanda Díaz.

The negotiation on labor reform enters its final phase with a new structure that increases the number of spaces for dialogue, adds new participants to conversations and can even rethink the topics for debate. The pact between the two wings of the Government to unblock the conflict for control of the reform between the first vice president, Nadia Calviño, and the second vice president, Yolanda Díaz, is made at the expense of add considerable complexity to negotiations underway, and all a month before the dialogue has to close: the deadline agreed with Brussels to have the regulation approved is December 31, but in order to comply with the formal requirements required by the approval of a Royal Decree-Law The talks should conclude, according to government sources, at the beginning of December at the latest, with or without an agreement.

This convoluted structure leads in practice to a “political table” and a “technical table”, a formula that it has no equal in this legislature and goes against the practice of negotiation of the last months, based on patience, continuity of the interlocutors and flexible deadlines. The dialogue about the riders law, for example, started in October 2020 and ended in March 2021, five months, although its approval had to wait until May, and its entry into force in August; and that only occupies one page and consists of a single article. The pension reform began to be debated in November and its first phase was completed with an agreement on July 1, after seven months of conversations, but the pact was achieved at the cost of leaving several important issues pending that are still being discussed. To date, in structural negotiations a ministry has always led the way (Work in the riders, Inclusion in pensions) and the influence of other portfolios, such as Economy and Finance, was exercised between meetings, not in the meetings themselves.

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Methodology and content

Until now, the labor reform negotiations followed the usual model: they were concentrated in a weekly meeting, every Wednesday morning, between the Secretary of State for Employment and those responsible for labor matters from UGT, CCOO, CEOE and Cepyme. With this method progress has been made through 22 meetings from March 17 to this Wednesday, and this work has resulted in a 29-page summary document that Trabajo compiled, based on its proposals, on October 14. The subsequent crisis within the Government has generated the new structure that will be applied from now on: the weekly meeting will be attended by at least two more members (from Economy and Inclusion), and will be preceded and followed by intergovernmental coordination meetings. As for the contents, they are still under examination: the Government will define its position in a meeting at the highest level next Tuesday, November 2, which has already started to prepare: This same Wednesday afternoon the Secretary of State for Employment has made a first review, in a meeting held in Labor with representatives of other ministries, of all the issues on the table (from collective bargaining to training). The objective: to determine where the disagreements are within the Executive.

Precisely the dual nature of the change in the negotiation, in the methodology and in the content, anticipates new complications, because each one of the sectors of the Government puts the accent in one of the problems. For the socialist wing, there is no controversy on the matters and the solution to the dispute is reached with formal changes and the participation of more ministries; On the other hand, in the part of United We Can they repeat that the bottom line is that Economics does not want to reverse crucial aspects of the 2012 labor reform, such as that referred to collective bargaining (that is, the duration and hierarchy of the agreements).

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The social agents have received the change with caution: formally, do not enter the internal organization of the Government and they remain optimistic about the possibility of an agreement between the Executive, unions and employers before the end of the term. However, the unions do not hide their concern about the possibility that the repeal of the part of the 2012 labor reform agreements could be called into question, and they advance that they do not rule out mobilizations if this change is not undertaken, which they define as a “Red line”.

Quiet on the technical table

While in the upper echelons of the Government the architecture of the next meetings and the distribution of responsibilities between departments were being agreed, on the ground, in the Ministry of Labor, the usual negotiators held the content meeting every Wednesday. According to one of the participants in that meeting, the meeting has passed “as if nothing had happenedWe have talked about open issues (temporality, prevalence of agreements, training contracts …); It has been a fruitful day, although without notable progress. “The only novelty: that they have been announced that from the next meeting there will be two new faces: the General Directors who will send Inclusion and Economy.

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