Perplexity at the social dialogue table. The Ministry of Social Security has not been present at the negotiating table for the extension of the ERTE this Friday, as happened yesterday, a few days after the protection mechanism expires. Two consecutive absences that the unions have criticized for the impossibility of advancing in the design of the new extension of the files due to the pandemic. Above all, because the point that generates more friction corresponds to Social Security: the intention of Minister José Luis Escrivá to condition aid to companies to present a training plan for their workers.
Labor proposes to extend the current ERTE by one month and that the new ones be applied from November
The two majority unions and the two employers have released statements at the end of this Friday’s meeting, in which they regretted the new Social Security sit-in. CCOO, more critical, accused the ministry headed by Escrivá of being “exercising a blockade of the negotiating table that will make it difficult to arrive on time for the renewal of the ERTEs.” “The absence of this ministry at the Social Dialogue table supposes a lack of respect for the social dialogue process itself and for the people who are with ERTE,” added the union.
From the UGT they also criticized that the Government had not gone to the dialogue table with “no text.” “The ERTE table has been paralyzed due to the absence of the Ministry of Social Security, which prevents progress on fundamental issues,” indicated the organization, such as exemptions and training. The current conditions of the ERTE expire on September 30, so the last previous Council of Ministers is that of this Tuesday, September 28.
The businessmen for their part have emphasized that “just six days after the end of the term” of the ERTE “a new joint proposal by the Government has not been brought to the negotiating table.” For CEOE and Cepyme, the absence of Social Security is “incomprehensible” and implies “a lack of respect” for the social partners, the 84,000 companies and the more than 250,000 workers who are still in ERTE at the moment “.
In the last extension of the tool, the Government had to enable an extraordinary Council because the agreement did not arrive in time to be validated in the last ordinary one. On this occasion, if a pact is not reached on Monday, this scenario could be repeated.
Social Security denies the blockade
Social Security sources explain that the Ministry is “working on a new document to present to the social agents as soon as possible.” This preparation is what justifies that no person in charge of Social Security has attended the dialogue table, as happened on Thursday.
“The issues that were raised to us in previous meetings are complex and we are addressing them. In no case, we are blocking the dialogue, but preparing a technical proposal with some of the elements that the social agents have transferred to us,” they add in Social Security.
This Friday an inter-ministerial meeting between Labor and Social Security was also held in the morning, to continue defining the Government’s offer, which, as can be seen, is not ready with regard to exemptions and training. That meeting was attended by the Secretary of State for Social Security, Israel Arroyo, as well as the Secretary of Employment, Joaquín Pérez Rey. The latter has had to absent himself for a while from the dialogue table with the representatives of the unions and employers, but then he has returned to continue debating.
‘Counter to zero’ in unemployment until the end of June
Sources from the Ministry of Labor highlight that this Friday’s meeting has been fruitful because a new extension of the so-called “counter to zero” of the unemployment benefit of workers in ERTE has been closed, until the end of June next year. This issue was left open at the social dialogue table on Thursday, with the union’s request for a new extension.
The counter to zero since October 1 of last year consists in that people in ERTE consume days of the right to unemployment generated in their career but that, if they are dismissed before December 31, 2021, the SEPE undertakes to replace the days you have consumed in this ERTE period. The new deadline date would be June 30. That was the request of the unions until yesterday, but this Friday UGT has demanded that the meter be extended until December 31, 2022.
CCOO and UGT have highlighted that there has been “progress”, but they urge the Government to present a joint and unique proposal, which includes both labor and Social Security matters. The businessmen agree on the claim and, given there is little margin left for the expiration of the ERTE, they ask for an automatic extension. The Ministry of Labor offered yesterday at the table that there be an automatic extension of one month and that the new conditions that are agreed for the ERTE are applied from November 1 to January 31.
With an eye on next Monday, sources of social dialogue assure that this weekend will surely be intense in contacts between the negotiating parties. That day will be decisive to know if a new agreement is reached ‘in extremis’ to extend the ERTEs for Tuesday or if it is necessary to give one more day of margin, with an extraordinary Council of Ministers on Wednesday. To date, all ERTE extensions have been approved with a social agreement.