Wednesday, April 17

Unions and employers ask the Government for “autonomy” to negotiate wages

UGT and CCOO demand to maintain purchasing power while the CEOE warns of the serious error of linking salaries to inflation

Lucia Palacios

The government, unions and employers have sat down again to negotiate in this case a possible income pact after the convulsion that the war in Ukraine is already causing in the Spanish economy, in view of the fact that high inflation will continue longer than expected. it had been anticipated. The social partners were united in defending what until now has been an exclusive issue for them: the negotiation of the salary increase for 2022 and, if agreed, for the next few years. And so they informed the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, and the eleven ministers who were part of this meeting convened by Moncloa.

«Salary negotiation already has its lane and already has its autonomy. It is a competence of the social agents”, warned the general secretary of the CC OO, Unai Sordo, at the subsequent press conference. And this was also emphasized by his UGT counterpart, Pepe Álvarez: «The issues that have to do with wages, the framework in which they must continue to be dealt with is the Agreement for Employment and Collective Bargaining (AENC). The war cannot alter the road map that we had set for ourselves.

And in this line they also manifested themselves from the employers’ association. “The AENC is something that we have been doing all our lives and it is part of the bipartite dialogue”, highlighted the president of the CEOE, Antonio Garamendi, who pointed out that at the meeting “it has become very clear that the AENC is totally independent of the income agreement ».

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Of course, both parties rejected any type of pressure from the Executive in this regard and invited the Government to define what matters should be included in this salary agreement that they want to seal to face a conflict (the Russian invasion) that “will not last Little time”. Thus, they were summoned to continue working on identifying what issues will require this pact.

But here comes the harmony between unions and employers, who were, however, totally contrary in the rest of the issues. Thus, both UGT and CC OO demanded to guarantee the purchasing power of the workers and opted to reach a collective bargaining agreement for two or even three years in which the workers’ salaries are shielded with salary revision clauses. Thus, if these guarantees are included in the agreements, the percentage increase in wages would be “less important.”

“The very high inflation that we have is not going to be able to be passed on immediately to all wages, but within three years we must guarantee that they retain their purchasing power and that is done through salary review clauses,” explained Sordo, who denounced that “wages cannot pay for the duck or be the pagans of high inflation”

On the opposite side, Garamendi warned of the “serious mistake for the future” that it would be for Spain to re-index wages to the CPI. Similarly, the employers rejected any increase in taxes or limits on the distribution of dividends, as demanded by the unions.

And it is that they defended that the income agreements have historically been linked to taxation or social protection spaces, according to Sordo, who was in favor of “containing” the distribution of dividends and company profits as well as acting on the Corporation Tax, whose collection margin is still very wide since it barely serves to enter 10% of business profits.

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