The social agents move after knowing the preliminary results of the committee of Labor experts to mark the growth path of the minimum interprofessional wage (SMI). The unions CC OO and UGT have jointly demanded this Tuesday the Government to immediately reopen the debate on this rise in the social dialogue table, so that the decision is not delayed further.
“Now that the economic forecasts are favorable (the Bank of Spain foresees a growth of 6.2% for 2021) and employment begins to grow, it is time to revalue the SMI,” the union organizations maintain in a statement. This is in line with what sources from the United We Can wing in the Executive defend, who believe that now is the time to face an advance in these salaries.
In December there was already a fight between the two souls of the Government for the revaluation of the minimum wage. Then the game was won by the socialist party, with the Vice President of Economic Affairs, Nadia Calviño, at the head. That is, the amount was frozen and a possible increase was delayed for mid-2021. This was subject to the economic recovery and the million jobs that existed before the coronavirus and are still out of the labor market. That is why now a new clash is expected between those in favor of the revaluation and those who bet on waiting a little longer.
According to a very advanced draft of the opinion of the group of experts that EL PAÍS advanced this Tuesday, the recommendation is that the minimum wage be raised to a range of between 1,012 euros and 1,047 euros in 14 payments between now and 2023, which represents an increase between 6.5% and 10.2%, compared to the 950 euros that are currently paid. That is, it would have to be increased between 62 and 97 euros to close the gap that separates the SMI from reaching 60% of the average salary, according to said report. The increase would imply that between 2017 and 2023 the minimum wage would have improved between 54.5% and 59.8%. Neither Economy nor Labor take this figure as definitive, among other things because in a week a survey of the salary structure will come out with data from 2019 that could very slightly tweak the final result. And this could change later as the goal of reaching 60% of the average profit varies.
Both the Workers’ Commissions and the UGT value in their joint note positively the technical analysis carried out on how to calculate 60% of the average salary. And they insist: “The path of rise of the SMI to reach that 60% in 2023, at the end of the legislature, is a political decision that the Government must take after addressing it within the framework of social dialogue.” In other words, it urges that the dialogue table be negotiated as soon as possible and that the decision not be delayed any longer.
The CEOE employer, for its part, is waiting to know the details of the final report. In their case, like Cepyme, they have not participated in the group of experts, although initially they did have representation. Both organizations withdrew from the committee because they understood that this work should have been carried out at the social dialogue table. Therefore, neither Edita Pereira, secretary of the CEOE Economic and Financial Policy Commission, nor Luis Aribayos, now Cepyme’s general secretary, have participated in the discussions.
Effect of increase
The study of the experts highlights the strong improvement that the minimum wage has registered in recent years until it currently stands at over 50% of the average salary in any of the sources taken (the salary structure survey is considered the best way to quantify it). They also highlight that Spain has thus gone from being at the bottom of Europe to being among the first in the classification. And they recommend that a prudent approach be made when setting the path, in line with Calviño’s recent statements, which calls for a pause to allow time for the economic recovery to be vigorous.
In addition, the group created by Labor defends that studies be carried out on the impact it may have on the labor market, as the Bank of Spain has recently done, which figures that the increase in the minimum wage in 2019 subtracted at least 100,000 jobs. The unions, for their part, deny the major. They consider these studies positive, but they do not coincide in that reading and highlight the positive effect of the rise on employment in the medium term: “The increase in the SMI generates a positive effect on employment in the medium term, since the improvement in purchasing power of the recipients of the minimum wage is largely transferred to consumption and this produces an increase in demand ”.
However, the time has come to bring this issue to the table of social dialogue, in which a great stumbling block remains: agreeing on the rate of rise. The group of experts recommends two routes: one would consist of concentrating the increases in 2022 and 2023. And the other in making a small increase this year, between 12 and 18 euros. The Government will be the one to make the political decision, since it has the option of addressing it unilaterally, although first it is time to discuss it with employers and unions. The pulse, at the dialogue table and within the coalition government, has only just begun.
UGT and CC OO, in addition, have denounced this Tuesday that 75% of the collective agreements in the Hospitality and Commerce sectors have expired, with the consequent lack of updating of wages and labor rights. Something that they consider serious: “It is urgent to start negotiating, both with the employers of these sectors and with the Government, so that the negotiations on the labor reform are activated”, said the secretary general of the Federation of CC OO Services, Chema Martínez.
Along the same lines, the Secretary General of the Federation of Services, Mobility and Consumption of the UGT, Antonio Oviedo, has stated: “Employers are intentionally taking advantage of this difficult situation to block collective bargaining.” For this reason, the trade union organizations warn that it will be a “hot autumn” if minimum wages are not set in agreements or the bases of collective bargaining are retaken.
Oviedo has underlined that these sectors generate 17% of GDP and 3.2 million jobs (957,000 in hospitality and 2.3 million in commerce), which means 20% of the total labor market. Of this mass of workers, 85.4% of workers in the commerce sector and 72.4% in the hospitality sector continue without a salary increase, according to the unions.