Wednesday, October 27

General State Budgets and gender gap

Last Thursday, October 7, the Council of Ministers approved the Draft Law on General State Budgets for 2022. It will soon begin its processing in the Parliament for its final approval after a debate that will undoubtedly be intense and in which the Government and the parliamentary majority that supports it must, once again, negotiate and compromise with other political forces.

We have already been told that they will be Budgets for a fair recovery, so that Spain is a more productive, competitive and sustainable country, ensuring that economic improvement reaches all families and that all social groups have more resources and better public services. And also that, with the highest spending ceiling in history -similar to that of 2021-, a commitment is made to youth, the revaluation of pensions and the salary increase in public employment, among other aspects. In short, the largest social spending in history will be made, allocating 60% of the budget to social policies in all areas. Remarking also that extraordinary resources will be allocated to Social Security for a transfer of 18,396 million euros to guarantee pensions.

Go ahead that, without yet knowing the project in its details, the lines already published suggest a special sensitivity of this Government with the problems of most of the citizens. Without arguing that, as is evident, a different distribution, greater support for certain sectors, or even the suppression or reduction of parties traditionally contested by the left would always be possible. But, in any case, with its, without a doubt, enormous difficulties and possible contradictions, it is a Budget Project that substantially improves previous projects and advances along an essential path for equality and social justice.

I want to place special emphasis on one of the aspects highlighted by the information provided by the Government: its commitment to closing gender gaps, which is reflected in the increase in the Ministry of Equality’s budget by 14.4%, after a increase of 157.2% in the previous year, as well as that feminism crosses and permeates the entire budget and that practically 90% of the programs… contribute to the fight to close the gender gap.

And it is here where, safe, as I say, that the details of the project pick up something else or that it is amended in its parliamentary journey, in my opinion there is a gap, a clamorous lack. Lack that is reflected in this transcendental rule whose starting point is found in the basic legislation of Social Security, which does not yet include a benefit such as the one that I am going to comment on now. I already know that without regulation of the benefit it does not make sense to include the corresponding item in the budgets, but the truth is that there is no news of an imminent recognition of it. That is why I am extremely concerned.

It is the unemployment benefit for people who work in the family home, in domestic work. Benefit today still unfair and incomprehensibly non-existent, except for a small period in which an extraordinary subsidy for lack of activity has been in force within the framework of the exceptional legislation linked to the COVID-19 epidemic.

It is, without a doubt, one of the most urgent and just demands that we can claim. And supported, in addition, in the international and community field.

Indeed, already in 2011 the ILO approved its Convention No. 189, on domestic workers. Agreement that Spain has not ratified in these ten years, despite having done so with most of the conventions of this organization. Something that powerfully draws attention and urges to remedy, being also one of the commitments of the agreement for the coalition government. Convention whose objective is to guarantee decent work and equality with other workers and whose article 14 states that “every member shall adopt appropriate measures in order to ensure that domestic workers enjoy conditions no less favorable than the applicable conditions. to workers in general with regard to the protection of social security, including in relation to maternity “.

And if this was not enough, very recently, on September 30, the Report of the General Counsel of the CJEU was known, proposing the answer to the preliminary ruling raised by the Contentious-Administrative Court No. 2 of Vigo. This Court posed a question to the Luxembourg Court about the interpretation of Article 4.1 of Directive 79/7 / EEC in the context of a national regulation that excludes unemployment benefits from benefits recognized by a legal social security scheme with respect to a category of workers as a whole, the activity of domestic workers being carried out by a group made up almost exclusively of women. Well, the Advocate General concludes, in essence, that this constitutes indirect discrimination not justified by objective factors and unrelated to any discrimination on grounds of sex and that the exclusion of domestic workers from unemployment benefits is contrary to the community regulations. And so we await the Sentence of the European Court.

It is, yes, an obvious question of elementary social justice and also, as I said, of the utmost urgency. In this sense, it should also be remembered that Royal Decree 1620/2011, of November 14, which regulates this special employment relationship of the family home service, already provided that the Ministry of Labor would proceed to the constitution of a group of experts to Prepare, prior to December 31, 2012, a report on, among other issues, the viability of establishing an unemployment protection system adapted to the peculiarities of the family home service activity that guarantees the principles of contributivity, solidarity and financial sustainability . Forecast that so far has not materialized and that successive governments have blatantly failed to comply.

There are already many, too many people, the vast majority women, who have lost unemployment benefits to which they have never had legal access, with the corresponding damage also to subsequent benefits of another nature. For this reason, time is running out and you should not waste another day without tackling this very serious dysfunction of our Social Security system.

One more aspect of the still existing gender gap. An aspect whose solution depends only on legal regulation. One more question in which this Government must respond as required. Sure there are more areas to continue working on, but today I understood that this was a priority approach.

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