There is only one day left, but the representatives of the SEPE workers do not resist admitting the loss of 500 troops. “We ask the Treasury to reconsider the decision, to extend the reinforcements, they can do so,” insists Françoise Calvo, a public employment service worker and UGT representative. CCOO and CSIF have also urged the Government to retract the cessation of these interim support to the organization due to the emergency of the pandemic at a “critical” moment, they insist. Just on June 30, the contract of another 635 temporary workers also ends, who belong to another program and in principle it cannot be extended any more because they have already been in their positions for more than three years. “It is a drama, offices will have to be closed because there will be no people to open them, the procedures and benefit payments will be delayed. It is a disaster,” continues Calvo.
The same messages come from the CCOO, which on Friday stood at the Ministry of Finance to ask the minister, María Jesús Montero, to reconsider her position. CCOO anticipates that there will be “more delays” in the management of benefits that “citizens will notice.”
The unions clearly point to the Ministry of Finance, although the SEPE depends on the Ministry of Labor and the resolution on the end of their contracts is signed by the Ministry of Public Function. At the Ministry of Labor, headed by Vice President Yolanda Díaz, they indicated that their request “was for total renewal” and awarded the decision to the competent ministries. That is, the Treasury and Public Function.
“The Public Function told us that they were going to extend the interns, who were waiting for the authorization of Expenditure. But the Treasury has said that it did not authorize it,” says Françoises Calvo of the meetings and communications prior to the communication of the cessation of these 500 interns of reinforcement dated July 30. In the past, interns have been extended with just a few hours from the end of their contracts, so the unions expected the same to happen this June and the 1,500 COVID reinforcement interns would remain in public employment offices. But it has not been that way.
At the end of last week, the government informed the SEPE unions that 500 interim unions would no longer be renewed in July. The rest, 1,000 workers, are currently being extended until the end of September, without knowing for sure what will happen after that date.
In the Ministry of Finance and Public Function they point out to elDiario.es that “an effort has already been made” to renew 1,000 interns of the reinforcement program until September, which they recall that it is “70%” of the program’s workers. At this time, both ministries insist, the workload is not the same as in the most acute moments of the pandemic, when there were 3.4 million workers in ERTE.
A “perfect storm” against the citizens
“Of course, now there is not the same situation as in May 2020, but we continue with 350% more workload than before the pandemic,” says Josetxo Gándara, head of Union Action for the General Administration of the State of FSC-CCOO. Right now there are still about 450,000 people in ERTE due to the pandemic.
Gándara indicates that in 2019, before the pandemic, “SEPE workers could no longer handle the workload they had and now much less.” At that time, the union considered that the organization needed around 1,500 members to function normally. “They have to say what they want: a body that works or one that does not work. And with this lack of personnel, the SEPE does not work,” adds the union member. “If they want us to be like 2020, with a total blockade, let them say so,” he continues.
In UGT they emphasize that the temporary regulation files require a lot of continuous work that is carried out by human personnel. “Every month workers have to be mechanized in their hours of activity, which change”, explains Françoise Calvo. Given that there are 635 interns who leave the body on June 30 from another program, the unions consider that the Government’s decision to add another 500 more exits of the covid reinforcement personnel is “unjustifiable.” They claim that, given that the pandemic continues and the personnel needs as well, the Executive once again extends the contract to these reinforcements.
Both the UGT and the CCOO insist that the lack of personnel will force the closure of some of the agency’s offices in July. “How do we do if 1,135 people leave at this time, that there is another large part of the staff on vacation?”, Says Josetxo Gándara. In CCOO they calculate that, “approximately, 140 offices go bankrupt with this decision, half of them because there is no one left and the rest that there is a worker left. There is no slack in the workforce currently for a replacement”, continues Gándara.
In the Ministry of Labor, although they have defended the permanence of the reinforcements, they respond that “they have no data” on the closure of SEPE offices for this reason. “Without ignoring the problems caused by the progressive withdrawal of these troops, which has to be compensated with a reinforcement for the management not only of the pandemic, the ordinary functioning of the organism will not be harmed”, they affirm about the problems in the management of which the unions warn.
Labor “is seeking structural solutions so that the management work of the State Public Employment Service is carried out in adequate conditions,” add sources from the Ministry.
The spokesmen for CCOO and UGT assure that the position of the unions is to try to reverse the exits until the last minute, tomorrow, June 30. If the dismissals take place, the unions will opt for a strategy of confrontation and mobilization, they say. “We can’t handle the work that there is, the staff is tired and the loads don’t stop rising,” says Calvo.