Celebration and vindication. The big day of workers and workers returns to the streets without restrictions due to the pandemic. This May Day, a festive and demanding day for labor rights at the international level, the vast majority of unions have focused their claims on wage increases. The majority, CCOO and UGT, have also highlighted the progress made in recovering rights in the labor reform, the ERTE, the minimum wage and other social dialogue agreements.
Unions and employers run aground on wages after having reached a multitude of agreements
“I think there is no May Day with so many rights conquered”, celebrated Pepe Álvarez, general secretary of the UGT, at the Madrid demonstration. The CCOO leader, Unai Sordo, has vindicated the efforts of social dialogue to achieve a social solution to the pandemic crisis and has warned that “it is the opposite of what we see now”. Sordo has denounced that “the crisis and the uncertainty due to the war in Ukraine cannot be paid by the workers”.
In a scenario of skyrocketing prices, due to exorbitant energy prices that have already spread to many other items, wage advances (if any) are lagging far behind. The result: an impoverishment of working people, suffocating millions of them who were just making ends meet.
The majority unions, CCOO and UGT, have marched through the streets of the country with the slogan ‘The Solution. Raise wages, contain prices, more equality’. The Union USE also claims “raising wages is the only way out of the crisis” and CSIF, organization with considerable weight in public administrations, this May Day has been directed to guarantee the purchasing power of workers, but also to ensure that there are no “cuts” in public services in the face of economic difficulties due to the war in Ukraine. For their part, the anarcho-syndicalist organizations CNT Y CGT They emphasize avoiding the impoverishment of the working class and the need for “social conquests” in the face of the “fiasco” of the labor reform, respectively.
The current inflationary situation, which worsened due to the war in Ukraine, is a challenge for the country’s economy and takes its toll on millions of households in a country like Spain, with high levels of poverty and many precarious homes. “When you don’t have enough, these things are much more noticeable,” Estefanía, a young worker with two children and her partner who is unemployed, tells elDiario.es. Estefanía and Isabel highlight in this report how having a job does not guarantee you on many occasions to make ends meet. “Psychologically, it affects. It makes you angry because you’re working and you have the right to live like the others, but they won’t let you”, says Isabel.
May Day with the approved labor reform
This May 1 is celebrated with the labor reform of the coalition government already approved and unfolding its effects. With an unprecedented boom in indefinite work and with the repeal of some elements of the 2012 PP reform, such as the prevalence of the company agreement over the sectoral agreement, which weighed down wages and worsened working conditions in many companies.
The Second Vice President and Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, present at the demonstration, stressed that “for the first time we can say that we came out of a crisis by improving people’s lives”, in reference to the pandemic. The government spokeswoman, Isabel Rodríguez, has spoken in the same vein, criticizing the right for “voting against” these rights.
Díaz has announced that in the next few days the panel of experts will be convened for the elaboration of the Workers’ Statute “of the 21st century”, one of the electoral commitments of the government coalition. This will review more labor law issues beyond those addressed in the reform approved at the end of 2021.
Notice to employer resistance
The unions have also focused this May Day on wages in the face of resistance from employers. CCOO and UGT, as majority organizations, negotiate with the CEOE and Cepyme employers the state agreement for collective bargaining (the so-called AENC), but it has run aground due to the salary debate. After a multitude of agreements in the social dialogue in recent years, in the tripartite negotiation that includes the Government, the social agents are blocked in the discussion on wages. “We are not going to compromise,” Unai Sordo warned about wage increases.
The unions demand that, despite the fact that more moderate increases can now be agreed, the purchasing power of the workers be guaranteed with salary review clauses. Clauses that should adjust the increases to the evolution of prices at the end of this year and in the following two. Businessmen flatly reject linking wages to price trends and insist on the inflationary risk that this step may entail.
In the current context, economists warn of the risk that the boom in energy prices that has triggered inflation will spread to other elements of the economy, generating inflationary loops. Employers cling to these warnings to deny salary increases according to prices, but unions warn that this rise is already being reflected in many other prices, so that companies are increasing their income, and reject leaving behind workers. Workers.