“Pay them more,” US President Joe Biden responded recently to the difficulties of employers finding workers in a country with nearly 40 million unemployed. The Moncloa was inclined a few weeks ago to permanently freeze the minimum interprofessional wage (SMI) in 2021, after the strong rise in 2019 (22%, up to 900 euros in 14 payments) and the rise in 2020 (up to 950 euros). But there is a party: the Vice President and Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, is pressing for a rise, contrary to the opinion of the Vice President and Minister of Economy, Nadia Calviño, and the Minister of Social Security, José Luis Escrivá.
Once again, the now traditional struggle between the socioliberal wing and the most left wing of the Government. “The decision has not been made and corresponds to President Pedro Sánchez,” government sources explain. Sánchez, in an interview with La Sexta, threw balls out on Thursday. “We are going to see how employment behaves in the coming months,” he said. A day later, the very positive data for June was published: a record drop in unemployment of 167,000 people and the creation of 233,000 jobs. These good data thus open the door to a rise this year, albeit very moderate, almost symbolic.
Next, the president pointed out that the Executive “must put all the focus on the recovery”, adding that the Spanish economy faces “high levels of uncertainty”, which would increase the chances of a freeze until the rebound is over. nods.
Those are, roughly, the two schools of thought that coexist within the Government, with the more political faction of La Moncloa and a part of the PSOE pushing for a rise. Until recently, Sánchez was very cautious, and on the other hand, in recent days both he and his cabinet have shown that there could be a very moderate increase, which will be decided throughout July.
The Bank of Spain burst into that debate a few weeks ago with a report that was read with a certain bias: the strong rise in 2019, the study said, reduced at least 100,000 jobs, especially among young people and older age groups, but the The central bank did not hide that the academic literature and the advice of international organizations have been changing: “The effect on employment tends to be mixed,” says that text.
The Government, in short, does not renounce to continue raising –up to 60% of the average salary– the SMI throughout the legislature, and a few days ago a commission of experts convened by Labor ruled a range of increases: the recommendation was to raise between 12 and 24 euros the minimum wage this year; between 24 and 40 euros in 2022 and, finally between 25 and 40 euros in 2023.
The ERTE, direct aid to companies, the minimum vital income, the most important reforms linked to European funds and now the SMI have become flags for the two versions of economic policy that coexist in the Government.
“The commitment is to reach that 60% of the average salary throughout the legislature, but in no way can job creation and economic recovery be put at risk,” sources from the Ministry of Economy explain to this newspaper. Another of the economic ministers points out that it is not “prudent” to undertake a new rise now, and that a greater increase, in one stroke, would be preferable for 2022, when the risks and uncertainty have definitively dissipated.
Vice President Díaz, on the other hand, has given clear signs of betting on an immediate rise, both because of the political message to come out of the crisis and because of the strong rebound that is coming and the need to avoid an uneven recovery.
The Minister of Labor presented her arguments in a meeting with Sánchez last Monday: at the end of last year, pensions and salaries of civil servants rose, inflation is above 2.5% and continuing to freeze the SMI would mean a lame recovery , with the levels of inequality and poverty in the upper part of the eurozone and that wound worsening with the pandemic: the working poor have increased by 16% in Spain during the covid, according to data from the European Trade Union Confederation.
Díaz’s position is shared by some of the president’s advisers in La Moncloa, due to the need to shore up the government’s image in polls, and even in the PSOE. “It would be a serious political and economic mistake to freeze the SMI after a crisis like the one we have experienced and with the CPI at levels above 2.5%”, according to an article published last Wednesday by Toni Ferrer, Secretary of Employment of the Socialists, who believe that the SMI should be “a lever towards a fair recovery.”