The recent remodeling undertaken by Pedro Sánchez in the socialist sector of the Government had overshadowed one of the most pressing debates within the Executive: the rise in the Minimum Interprofessional Salary (SMI), pending since January and that divides the two partners of the Executive. But with the new ministers already presented and taking the measure of their responsibilities, from United We Can has taken up the pressure to ensure that the increase in the indicator occurs this summer. The second vice president, Yolanda Díaz, leads this fight, for which she has important allies, such as the unions or some of the parliamentary allies. Opposite, the first vice president, Nadia Calviño, maintains her thesis to freeze the SMI and undertake the rise later.
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
“If a government leaves out the weakest, it is very difficult to say that it is a social government,” declared Yolanda Díaz in an interview on TVE last Thursday. On the same day, the National Institute of Statistics (INE) published the Survey of Living Conditions which indicates that one in five Spaniards is at risk of poverty in Spain, although the risk of poverty rate among the employed has been reduced by 1 , 2 points to 12%, the lowest value since 2012. Also the Gini index, which is used to measure inequality in countries, has fallen 1.1 points to stand at 32.1, the value lowest in the last 13 years. Two improvements that have been accompanied by individual increases in the SMI, especially in 2019.
The leader of United We Can in the Government insisted in the interview on the idea: “It is not credible that we are the Government of recovery if we do not improve the salary conditions of the weakest.” But Díaz has very internalized the differences that exist within the Executive in this matter, to the point that he recalled that the economic vice president already opposed the rise of the SMI to 950 euros in 2019 and with the PSOE ruling alone, ” when Spain grew more than the EU average “. “We think differently,” he acknowledged, to point out that “United We Can and the unions” have it “clear.”
Indeed, the day before Díaz’s interview on TVE, the unions were demonstrating under the slogan “Now it is time” and they warned the Prime Minister that they will “toughen” social dialogue if the SMI is not raised this year. On the table, two important negotiations underway: the second and third phases of the pension reform and the new labor framework that should replace the 2012 PP labor reform.
From the CCOO, harsh messages expressly addressed to Pedro Sánchez have been launched in the last hours. “We call on the President of the Government to fulfill the commitments made and renew the social agenda,” said leader Carlos Bravo.
But much tougher has been the sister union of the PSOE, UGT. Its general secretary, Pepe Álvarez, also said on Thursday in RNE that “the excuses for not raising the SMI are very bad.” “The Government must call us and, if not, we will ask for a meeting to explain to the Prime Minister that there is no reason not to raise it, all European countries that have a minimum wage have raised it this year, if they ignore us, we will harden our position” .
In fact, only the PP Government of Mariano Rajoy has frozen the SMI in recent years. In January 2021, the Executive decided not to extend the SMI from the previous year, but to postpone the decision to this summer, when the experts’ report to set the growth path of the indicator until 2023 had already been made public and that proposed a rise of up to 2% this year.
The negotiation within the Executive is still underway, although the issue of the SMI has not been specifically addressed since the meeting held at the end of June by Sánchez and Díaz, the two leaders of the Government partners and who will have to make the decision. final.
Against the rise is the most orthodox sector of the PSOE, with Nadia Calviño at the head. The recently promoted to first vice president due to the departure of Carmen Calvo, although she maintains her exclusively economic powers, insists that “the priority is employment” and, although she does not expressly say that the SMI will not be raised this year, she does suggest that while there are workers in ERTE, it is not advisable to improve the indicator.
An answer that the leader of the UGT did not like, who in the same interview cited above pointed out that “one thing does not interfere with the other” and pointed out that the relations of the union he leads with the Government “do not go through a good moment “before the “Lack of sensitivity and arrogance” of Vice President Calviño.
In June Pedro Sánchez had cooled down the options that the Government would finally raise the SMI. But in recent weeks, while the pressure from United We Can and the unions intensifies, it has stayed out of the dispute, at least in public. The decision, whatever it may be, must be made imminently. The last Council of Ministers before the summer holidays will be held on August 3. Later, the Government will enter fully into another negotiation, also very complex and on several bands, to obtain the General Budgets for 2022.
Whether now or later, the commitment included in the government agreement is to bring the SMI at the end of the legislature to 60% of the average salary, which the experts appointed by the Executive placed around 1,050 euros in 2023, a year of multiple and momentous electoral appointments.