The Government is preparing a proposal to raise the Minimum Interprofessional Salary (SMI) to take to the social dialogue table and approve it next September for its immediate entry into force. The work is advanced, although not finished, after the good employment data in recent months, with an affiliation to Social Security that already equals that of the one before the pandemic, have knocked down the last resistance to increasing the indicator on the path of what is marked by the Government agreement.
The committee of experts proposes an increase in the minimum wage of between 1.3% and 2% in 2021 in full debate in the Government
“The economic data are accompanying us, the Government will study that possibility,” said the Government spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, on Tuesday at the press conference after the Council of Ministers. Sources from the Ministry of Labor have confirmed that a proposal is being studied to present to unions and employers, although they prefer to keep the discretion on the details until everything is closed. The workers’ representatives have already amply announced their support for the measure, while the CEOE has shown its disagreement.
The opinion of the social agents is, in any case, nothing more than that. Your opinion. The decision is made by the Government, which has experienced a tough struggle within it since the end of 2020, when the economic vice president, Nadia Calviño, and the Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, publicly disagreed on what to do with the indicator. Calviño was betting on freezing it, while Díaz wanted to negotiate an increase.
The coalition agreement marked an increase path that would leave the SMI at the end of the legislature at 60% of the average salary, as established by the European Social Charter. To define exactly that average salary, the Executive convened a group of experts that issued its opinion last June. The government then chose to extend the 2020 SMI, rather than freeze it, to give the committee time to finish its work.
The 12 specialists concluded that, to fulfill their commitment, the Government should set the SMI in 2023 between 1,011 and 1,049 euros in 14 payments. And they proposed an increase for this 2021 of between 1.3% and 2% on the current 950 euros, between 12 and 19 euros per pay.
Despite the content of the report, the socialist part of the Government was reluctant to approve an increase in the SMI this year and proposed to subsume it in that of 2022, with the justification of not hindering the creation of employment and the exit from the crisis caused by the pandemic. In Work, with Díaz already as vice president after the departure of Pablo Iglesias, they maintained their intention to approve a raise this same year.
But the economic data and, especially the unemployment data and Social Security affiliation, have finished tilting the balance on the side of Díaz. Employment touched 20 million people in July, while unemployment recorded another historic drop, while the departure of workers from the ERTEs accelerated.
In the middle of the struggle, the latest Living Conditions Survey indicated that the year in which the SMI was raised by 22.3%, inequality and working poverty were reduced. Díaz also had the support of the unions, both the CCOO and the UGT. “The Government cannot pretend that we sit down to negotiate only when it wants. It has to sit down to see what we think in relation to the SMI. We have to reach an agreement to reach that path of 60% of the average salary, which would be about 1,100 euros “, they also said in July.
At the end of that same month, Nadia Calviño gave the first clues that Yolanda Díaz’s position could triumph within the Executive. “In September we will see if it is possible to resume the path of increase,” said the first vice president, far from her outright rejection of the decision. Last week she took another step by showing her confidence in being able to “recover the path of the increase” of the SMI as soon as possible.
That moment has come and will be resolved in the coming days. An increase of up to 20 euros in September would apply to the remainder of the year, since the increase is not retroactive. With almost no continuity solution, the Government must also present to the social agents the path of increasing the SMI for 2022 and 2023 and place it in what the European institutions recommend.