Yolanda Díaz has eight days to achieve a double objective: that the labor reform goes ahead and that it does so with the majority of the investiture, that is, with a coalition that aligns the majority of progressive formations in Congress. With this mission between eyebrows and eyebrows, the Vice President and Minister of Labor has organized a two-day trip to Barcelona with which she wants to show practically total harmony with the most representative Catalan unions, CCOO and UGT. She has done so this Wednesday, when she has met with the leadership of both and has participated in an assembly of the federation of Workers’ Commissions services.
Diaz is also scheduled to have dinner tonight with Roger Torrent, Minister of Labor, before whom the vice-president wishes to explain the improvements that the new labor framework would entail for workers in Catalonia. Torrent has insisted in recent days on the need for the labor reform to contemplate competence issues, such as returning to the Generalitat its ability to authorize EREs and also the prevalence of the territorial agreement, two aspects that have not been included.
The vice president has taken advantage of her time in Barcelona to send an unequivocal message to the Palau de la Generalitat, in which Díaz and his team trust to unblock the negotiations with the ERC parliamentary group. The Republicans, with their 13 seats, are the key piece of the parliamentary sum that the Labor team wants for next February 3, when the vote on the new labor framework will be held. “I am convinced that this reform is going to come out. No one could tell the workers that a rule that is going to lead to an improvement is not going to be applied,” Díaz warned ERC.
The vice-president’s unity with Javier Pacheco (CCOO) and Camil Ros (UGT), the latter with excellent relations with the Republicans, is actually the Government’s best card to convince ERC. Pere Aragonès occupies the presidency of a territory where the unions are totally aligned with the labor reform, something that no other party with which they are negotiating can say. In the Basque Country, the ELA and LAB unions, the majority, have considered the regulation insufficient and are putting strong pressure on the PNV. But in Catalonia things are just the opposite. The first left-wing president in more than a decade may begin his term by turning against the main labor organizations.
“We believe that this is a good agreement, a balanced agreement and with which the Catalan workers will win”, the general secretary of the UGT has expressed without half measures. “We want to express a very clear message to the parties: we want this agreement to be ratified by the majority of the left that overthrew Rajoy, that invested this government and that approved the budgets”, Ros underlined. ERC’s relations with this union are more than fluid. Without going any further, the negotiator of the labor reform on the part of the Republicans, the deputy Jordi Salvador, was secretary general of the UGT in Tarragona.
More forceful has been Javier Pacheco, leader of Commissions in Catalonia, who has charged against the parties that refuse to support this reform, assuring that they do not respect the representativeness of social dialogue. “No one has to give us lessons on what popular sovereignty represents,” said Pacheco, who considered that although the parties have the legitimacy to decide their vote, it would be “political myopia” if they did not respect what was agreed by the three actors of the agreement, that is, unions, employers and the Government. “We would not understand that a decision contradicted the perpetual validation of the conditions of the PP for many years. This is not a right to the foot, it is a shot in the head,” said the general secretary of CCOO Catalunya.
Before the representatives of the assembly of the Federation of Services, the vice president has passionately defended the Royal Decree-law that they will take next week to Congress and that will mean, she has said, a “historic change” in the framework of labor relations . “To the voices that say that this is makeup, I say, with affection, that I think the scope of the standard should be better studied,” she assured. “This rule changes the paradigm of labor relations in our country,” she added.
Despite the insistence of the press, the vice president has been careful to be exquisite when referring to ERC, a party from which some complaints have come out due to recent statements made by other members of the Government in relation to the negotiation of the labor reform. “I deeply respect ERC, I know the social sensitivity of the party”, she has said. And she has finished off by saying: “I only have good words for the party that accompanied a healing labor policy during the pandemic.”
Relations between Díaz and his people with the Republicans, both in Madrid and in Barcelona, have been very good. For the moment. Because from En Comú Podem, which has approved the last two budgets in Catalonia and has become a more reliable partner than the CUP for Aragonès, they warn that the honeymoon would end if the ERC rejects the labor reform next week. As occurs with the offense, it is not whoever wants to press, but who can, and in the case of the Minister of Labor, there is no doubt that she has powerful weapons to squeeze the Republicans. More difficult to predict is whether it will be enough to change a decision that ERC has practically taken against the decree.