The fourth meeting of the negotiating commission that must settle the conditions of the ERE in El Corte Inglés has ended with the positions of the company and unions very far apart. According to a statement from the latter, the department store company offers employees who agree to leave their position voluntarily 25 days per year worked, with a limit of 15 monthly payments, it limits voluntariness to workers in the areas and centers that it wants to reorganize, Instead of opening this possibility to the entire workforce, and in case of not reaching the quota of between 3,000 and 3,500 dismissals that has been marked, it proposes forced exits in worse conditions, with compensation of 20 days per year worked and a maximum of 12 months. Those interested in leaving the company will have one month from the signing of the agreement to communicate it, and El Corte Inglés will have another month to respond if it admits their request.
Commissions Obreras, Fasga, Fetico and UGT, the four unions that negotiate with the company, instead claim compensation of 36 days per year worked with a maximum of 24 monthly payments, they want El Corte Inglés to allow the entire workforce to adhere to the formula of voluntary departures, and ask that if there were not enough volunteers, the company rethink the figures and there are fewer layoffs. The unions have expressed the distance that separates the parties right now in one sentence: “The path that the company has chosen today has been radically the opposite of what, from the social side, we consider fair.”
The representatives of the workers have not spared qualifiers to the proposal. They consider that the compensation offer is “ridiculous”, “is out of the market” and “far from reality”. However, elsewhere in the statement, they seem to assume that not all layoffs will come with the consent of the worker. “Our goal is that the majority of departures are voluntary,” they point out.
The negotiations began 11 days ago, after the announcement by El Corte Inglés at the end of February that it would carry out the first ERE in its history to “adapt resources to current needs”, the euphemism with which it refers to the drop in income due to the pandemic and changes in consumer habits, which have reduced face-to-face purchases to focus more on Internet consumption. The reorganization means the exit of around 5% of the 63,000 workers from its shopping centers, the largest cut ever made by the firm.
In the first negotiating round, the company excluded employees over 50 from the ERE on the grounds that their reintegration into the labor market is more complicated. There was no joint communication on the second. And in the third, the policies to support repositioning for departing employees were studied. Now, in the fourth, is when the thorniest issues have been reached: those concerning the severance payments to be paid, the perimeter of the dismissals and their voluntariness. Until now, El Corte Inglés reiterated that all departures would be voluntary.
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