“Spain is not bankrupt.” With those words, Pedro Sánchez has rejected the bad omens that Pablo Casado foreshadows when the half of the legislature approaches and the Government begins to see the light at the end of the tunnel of the pandemic. It was during the control session in Congress just three hours before the Minister of Finance, María Jesús Montero, solemnized the delivery of the General State Budgets of 2022 with which the coalition wants to leave behind the hardest months of the COVID-19 which, in addition to thousands of lives, has meant a very expensive economic bill to the country. The European funds designed to overcome the crisis with expansionary policies that rectify the era of austerity allow the Executive to present the accounts with the most spending in history. 40,238 million for investments, 11,000 of them in infrastructure; an item for education that exceeds the 5,000 million threshold for the first time; record figure for culture; 12,500 million destined for the young … These are the great numbers that encourage a coalition, the first in 100 years, that was surprised by a pandemic never seen three months after coming to power. The objective, after the success of the vaccination, the president and his ministers repeated, was to turn the page to the crisis in the second half of the mandate. And the imminent challenge that is set is to dismantle the labor reform of the PP, a recurring commitment of the Government, which had agreed in writing with its parliamentary partners but difficult to implement during the months of death and job destruction, a consequence of stopping the activity of almost an entire country.
The Government presents some Budgets for the recovery with a focus on young people, public services and SMEs
Moncloa has prioritized economic and social measures in its action plan for the remainder of the year, putting aside other pending promises, such as the reform of the Penal Code or the repeal of the Gag law. Sánchez wants to hit the streets and offer concrete results beyond the political battles that, as he told the leader of the PP two weeks ago, have the Spanish “up to the crown.” And for that it will focus on the mantra of “fair recovery” and on emphasizing measures such as the youth voucher for culture, the 250 euros for rental assistance or the increase in scholarships. All with the tailwind of a Europe, which for the moment has left behind austerity and the recipes of the 2008 crisis.
“We are going to make the most of the historic opportunity posed by European funds to ensure that this fair recovery is at the same time a transformation of our country towards a more environmentally sustainable model, which guarantees real equality between women and men and takes advantage of digitization. to reindustrialize our country, “the secretary general tells the PSOE militancy in a letter in which he assures that Spain is at a” turning point. ”
Despite the fact that the Government figures at 42% the degree of compliance with the commitments acquired (fundamentally in the programmatic agreement of PSOE and United We Can), the year and a half of the pandemic has meant a halt in the execution of some of them, causing misgivings of the majority of parliamentary partners, who have been demanding for months the Executive to put the batteries in matters such as the repeal of the labor reform.
And that is where the coalition has marked its next milestone in red: overthrowing the most damaging aspects of the legislation promoted by the PP and approving a new framework for labor relations. Nothing else to agree on the Budgets – which meant a half victory for United We Can with respect to the housing law, but at the cost of making waivers such as the childbearing benefit, the purple rate, the increase in maternity and paternity leave to six months and even the gag law–, Yolanda Díaz has stepped on the accelerator in what is her unavoidable commitment for 2021.
New document from the Ministry of Labor
The Ministry of Labor has put on the social dialogue table this Wednesday a new document of proposals in the negotiation of the new labor legislation. The battle against temporality, one of the aspects that most worries both in Spain and in the EU, is one of the priorities for the Government. As elDiario.es has advanced, Trabajo proposes that temporary contracts be limited to 15% “of the annual workforce of each company.” The Ministry advocates, in addition, to recover the prevalence of the sectoral agreement over that of the company in wages among the elements to dismantle the Rajoy labor legislation and other measures to “Europeanize” the labor market and avoid mass dismissals in the face of crisis or uncertainties in companies, through a permanent ERTE mechanism (the MSE), among other measures.
Yolanda Díaz is aware that she will have to struggle in the negotiation with the unions and the employers after adding several victories from which the Government takes its chest by reaching more than a dozen agreements so far in the legislature, including six extensions of the ERTEs due to the pandemic. Convincing entrepreneurs on this occasion is going to be very complex. The unions consider it almost impossible in what involves the dismantling of the 2012 reform, although they consider that there are some options for a partial agreement on matters that are of great interest to employers, such as the permanent ERTE (MSE) mechanism, which could have aid for companies as has happened with ERTE during the pandemic.
The employers have already marked distances with the coalition Executive in the rise of the Interprofessional Minimum Wage (SMI) that the Council of Ministers approved at the end of September – after an important internal tug of war – and that Sánchez announced as soon as he returned from vacation. There began the new stage: once herd immunity was achieved, the country had to move towards economic growth and this should reach everyone, according to the slogans monclovitas.
But if the Government was stressed before the failure of the employer’s association for this agreement, it will be even more difficult to negotiate the labor reform that the PP designed to suit the businessmen. In an event on employment at the end of September, Sánchez opted to direct the labor market towards digital transformation and ecological transition, which he placed as the axes of the “new economy.” “This will require governments, unions and employers to have an intense and constructive dialogue on what active employment policies should be, renew our labor framework and promote public-private collaboration,” he warned.
A litmus test for the coalition
In any case, the PSOE has also assumed that the labor counter-reform is a priority that cannot wait any longer and a commitment that, if it does not go ahead, would place it in a complicated situation with its left-wing allies outside the Government who have not yet said yes to their public accounts. Beyond having sealed it in the investiture agreements, the Socialists reaffirmed the promise in subsequent budget negotiations and even to get the five votes of EH Bildu in one of the extensions of the state of alarm. However, he will also have to balance with the PNV, a preferred partner for Sánchez, who has always asked for caution in matters that affect the employer.
Despite the fact that Yolanda Díaz has aligned her message on the labor reform with that of Sánchez, the second vice president is clear that ending the regulations that she imposed on the PP is an insurmountable line for her mandate. “I tell you loud and clear that we are in the Government for that,” he said at a rally on the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party in which he hinted at his intention to do so even without businessmen. “It is necessary to repeal the labor reform. I am clear: we are going to do it. Right, Unai? Right, Pepe?” He rhetorically asked the leaders of the majority unions. the country, the Government will be wrong and Spain will be wrong. ”
This negotiation will be the true litmus test for the coalition government, which with its second budgets is assured of reaching the end of the legislature, despite the fact that the Minister of Finance has been convinced that the accounts that have arrived this Wednesday Congress will not be the last.