The only deputy in the Congress of Galician nationalism will vote against the labor reform. “The most harmful aspects” of the rule that the Popular Party approved alone in 2012 “are left untouched,” considers Néstor Rego. Only if PSOE and United We Can agree to process the text in Congress as a bill and include proposals such as the recovery of the 45-day compensation for dismissal or the permission of the labor authority to execute ERE, will the BNG change its mind. To intensify the pressure, the organization has allied itself with the Esquerra Republicana, EH Bildu and the CUP to demand changes in the text agreed upon by Yolanda Díaz with the Workers’ Commissions, the UGT and the employers’ association. “The surprising thing is that with sufficient majorities in Congress, this government always stops halfway,” says Rego.
Why does the BNG not benefit from this labor reform?
Because it does not comply with the commitment made by this government to repeal the PP reform. The changes that are introduced are minimal. Only the ultra-activity of agreements and the prevalence of sectoral agreements over company agreements are recovered, but the latter only in those referring to wages. And although the type of contracts is changed, without reinforcement of the labor inspection, abuses and subcontracting will not be prevented. The most damaging aspects are left untouched.
What would need to change for your organization to support it?
There are key elements, such as recovering 45 days severance pay. Or the permission of the labor authority for collective dismissals, with which situations such as Vespas could be avoided, in which a profit-making company fires workers to relocate production. We also demand the recovery of processing wages, prevent employers from unilaterally withdrawing from agreements or prohibit state agreements from prevailing over regional ones even if rights are lost. The question, in my opinion, is: why, having a sufficient majority, does the Government privilege the agreement with the bosses?
What do you attribute it to?
Well, to a submission to the guidelines of the European Union, which had already warned that if Spain wanted Next Generation funds it could not repeal the labor reform of the PP. We are surprised that it is sold as an achievement that the CEOE is in the agreement. We all started from the fact that the bosses were not going to accept the repeal of the PP legislation and that the Government would have to rely on the strength provided by the votes and the majority of sovereignists and leftists in Congress. We must not sacralize agreements with employers. Let us remember that the reform of the PP went ahead despite the opposition of unions, the left and two general strikes.
The Socialist Party seems to seek the support of Ciudadanos, while United We Can insist on the so-called investiture bloc, of which you are a part. Do you perceive divergences in the coalition?
I do not want to go into whether or not there are differences. What I perceive is that both parties are determined that no changes be made to the text of the reform during its processing in Congress. They are transferring the ability to legislate to an informal forum, because the so-called social dialogue is not even an official body. And so they have chosen their counterparts, two unions and employers’ organizations. Why was the Economic and Social Council not consulted? Because there are other unions with representative status, as is the case of the CIG, majority in Galicia, or ELA, in Euskadi, which oppose this reform. We want it to be negotiated in Congress as a bill and collect our contributions.
If it finally goes ahead with the support of Ciudadanos, what would it mean?
It would be the verification that this reform is not good for the workers, because it serves the right wing, Ciudadanos, the FAES and Casado, who, despite the fact that the PP is going to vote against it for partisan reasons, has already affirmed that consolidates what was done by Mariano Rajoy. It would also be evident that the Government refuses to dialogue with the leftist forces in line with the investiture commitments. And it may introduce a twist in their alliances that further defrauds the prospects for structural change.
Gabriel Rufián warned that ERC does not support “personalist projects”, referring to Yolanda Díaz. Does the BNG share this impression?
I don’t know if it is a personal project, what I see is that the reform was approved by the Council of Ministers. I’m not worried about who promotes it, I’m worried that it doesn’t serve to recover the rights of workers.
Díaz insists is that, for the first time, a modification of the labor legislation benefits the workers.
For me, there is a more important question: why, when there is a sufficient parliamentary majority to repeal the PP reform, does Yolanda Díaz not do so? That is what the minister should explain. To argue that voting against is to prefer the PP is demagogic, an insult to intelligence. What seem to prefer it are the government parties, because they do not repeal it. I am also concerned that the populist demagoguery of the extreme right ends up capitalizing on discontent with the executive.
But if the Government’s proposal fails in Congress, the PP rules will remain in force.
That premise is false, because if it does not go ahead, the PSOE and United We Can have the possibility of arming a majority with the sovereignists and the left. Unfortunately, it seems to me that it will have the support of Ciudadanos, the PNV and other forces that have already announced it.
Two years after the investiture of Pedro Sánchez and the government coalition, does the BNG feel more distant from the Executive?
What we feel is that this government fails to fulfill many commitments. It has made it possible to make progress on some things, such as the reduction of tolls on the AP-9, but not on fundamental elements that excited people, such as the pension reform, a law of democratic memory that does not end the impunity of Francoism or the disappointing bill to reform the Gag Law. We will see what happens with the housing law. The surprising thing is that with the right scenario and sufficient majorities in Congress, it always falls in the middle. The BNG, in any case, will continue to act in defense of the interests of Galicia, of the Galician popular classes and, as in the case of the labor reform, of the popular classes of the State.