Tuesday, May 24

Unai Sordo: “Productivity must be improved without reducing wages or making employment precarious”

Inocencio González continues to lead the union in the Islands. Is continuity good news at the present time?

Yes, the work that has been done in the Canary Islands has been reflected in the affiliation, representation and perception of utility data. Especially in a pandemic that I honestly think we have lived up to.

Will very difficult times come after the ERTE?

By the time vaccination fosters group immunity, the economy is going to recover in a very intense way and the ERTEs have served to have three million fewer workers laid off. Improving in the medium and long term will depend on many variables, including how European funds are used.

The previous crisis brought a decline in union vigor. Will they regain lost ground in this crisis?

The work of the union must be valued during the pandemic: attention, advice and the information that has been given to millions of workers who did not know how to deal with an unprecedented situation. Also, the role we have played in social dialogue. For the first time in a Spanish crisis, the fall of the economy is less than that of employment.

The ERTE exit rate is much lower in the Islands than in the rest of the country. Is this peculiarity present in social dialogue?

At all times. The recovery of the economy affects differently depending on the productive fabric and those more based on services and linked to tourism suffer the greatest impact. The fact is that 80,000 of the 400,000 workers that remain in ERTE are from this land. The figure is very significant.

Minister Díaz assures that the ERTE will be in force as long as they are necessary. Can we be calm?

Yes. They should be in force while there are economic restrictions and afterwards, reconfigure them so that they are also useful in normal periods. Companies have become accustomed to a lot of temporary hiring and a lot of recourse to dismissal at the slightest problem. This dynamic must be replaced by others that give prominence to adapting the day or working time.

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“It is necessary to break the business culture installed in the resort to the temporary contract and the dismissal”

Unai Sordo – CCOO Secretary General


A good part of the recovery goes through European funds. Will they be processed on time?

Yes, I don’t think there is a possibility of a bureaucratic paralysis problem. The question is deeper, because of course 27,000 million euros will be noticed in the economy. It is not simply a matter of distributing them, they have to serve to improve the productive fabric and digitization, to diversify production and promote the energy transition.

Italy and Spain say that the credibility of the EU depends largely on the success of both in managing these funds. Do you agree?

Yes. Taking out a fund of 750,000 million that is not distributed according to the population but the impact of the pandemic and that is nourished with debt acquired by all the EU countries was unthinkable just two years ago. It is a leap forward in the process of European integration that countries such as Spain or Italy need so much, but, logically, it will be highly controlled by countries that do not see it favorably. That is why I say that the challenge is not only to improve the economy in the short term.

Tackling temporary employment is one of the conditions that Brussels has set.

The problem is how, because sometimes the most important thing is in the details. However, it is good that the EU considers that having between 27% and 32% temporary employment in Spain is not only a social anomaly or a problem of job instability for millions of people, but also an economic one. It is very difficult for workers to be motivated for a permanent qualification if they are always rotating through contracts. The objective is to improve productivity without reducing wages and making jobs more precarious, but by investing in digitization and permanent training for people. That is the challenge.

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And how to tackle it successfully?

Breaking a business culture that is highly installed in the use of temporary contracts and dismissal to adjust when facing a transition or change the economic cycle.

What to do with the temporality in the Administration?

The government has to negotiate a system to consolidate vacancies without waiting for the courts to solve the problem. The legitimate interests of those who have been rotating with temporary contracts for years cannot be ignored, but it is true that access to the public function must be done according to equality, merit and ability. A selection process in which seniority merits have sufficient weight may be the solution.

Is there still room to negotiate an increase in the minimum wage (SMI) this year or is that a losing battle?

It is not lost at all. We are waiting for the Government to summon us to the negotiating table. They awaited the report commissioned from a group of experts and, once the result is known, it is time to agree on the path of rise for the legislature. It would be a huge mistake to stubbornly freeze the SMI in 2021 when the economy is going to grow above 6%, prices are rising 2.7% and jobs are going to be created in the second part of the year. It would not be understood that lower wages lose purchasing power.

Satisfied with the pension agreement?

Above all because it changes the orientation that prompted the last decree of pensions of the Government of Rajoy in 2013. It said that the increase in pensioners that there will be, with higher pensions or for a longer time, had to be resolved through cuts. Now the revaluation index of 0.25% and the sustainability factor are repealed, and income is nurtured with resources that will be around 2% of GDP when all the measures are implemented in the next decade. Bridges are put in place to guarantee pensions and their financing.

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“It would be a mistake to stubbornly freeze the SMI when the economy is going to grow more than 6%”

Unai Sordo – CCOO Secretary General


To what extent is this agreement a recovery of the power of social dialogue?

It is very relevant, the labor reform, which must be repealed, and the pension reform broke previous consensus. That the system has been led by an agreement that goes beyond the political conjuncture and regains consensus is extremely important.

Why are there such different reactions when Unai Sordo and Antonio Garamendi say practically the same thing about pardoning the independentistas?

I am concerned about the level of political tension that some of the political actors want to impose. I do not have to defend the opinion of CEOE or Garamendi, but I am clear that the economic power seeks a minimum of political stability. I do not know if the average Spanish businessman is in favor or against, but I do know that many of them interpret that they are a necessary condition, not sufficient, to establish a framework for dialogue. There are those who do not assume the grays, and skin those who leave the pre-established script for each one.

What opinion do you have of the management of the Government of Spain in the face of the migratory phenomenon?

The Canary Islands or the south of the Peninsula cannot take up the challenge alone and we have told the Government many times.

And Europe?

It has to design a policy with global meaning and that takes into account human rights, not outsourcing as has been done, for example, with Turkey. Europe has an aging population and a labor force is needed. Orderly migration processes must be developed.


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