CC OO, UGT and CSIF, the most representative unions in the public sector, have conveyed to the Minister of Finance, María Jesús Montero, their concern about the delicate situation in which the State Public Employment Service (SEPE) finds itself after having lost this Thursday to 635 of the interim officials who entered as reinforcement to face the increase in the workload derived from the coronavirus. Through a letter, the union representatives assure that currently the pressure on the body “almost quadruples that existing in this same month of the year 2019”, and they do not understand that the number of members is cut when the peak of activity that has generated the pandemic has not yet stopped.
The decision to dispense with part of the reinforcements was taken jointly by the General Directorate of Personnel Costs, under the Ministry of Finance, and by the General Directorate of Public Function. The department headed by Miquel Iceta recognizes these exits – although they reduce them to 500 – and they assure that the remaining 1,000 workers will remain at least until September 30. “Later it will be seen”, they acknowledge. In the Treasury they go further, and point out that the 635 positions that have become vacant in June “due to the expiration of the interim contract” will be covered “later”, and that “in no case will there be a reduction in the number of staff” . Although they do not have competence in personnel management, the Ministry of Labor does not share the cuts, and they consider it necessary to take care of a “key body in the Welfare State”.
To these 635 interns who ended the contract on June 30, will be added, according to the unions, 1,000 more in the next five months (500 in September and 500 in December), so by the beginning of 2022 the reinforcements will have evaporated. With these figures, they denounce that the cuts will mean a reduction of 19% of the SEPE’s global workforce and almost 28% “if we refer to the staff in the network of Benefits Offices, who provide face-to-face care to users of this Public Service ”, They indicate.
The lack of hands in the SEPE is evident for the unions, who also denounce that in a situation as exceptional as the one that has caused a pandemic still in force, the body in charge of managing the temporary employment regulation files (ERTE ) ―Among other benefits― will have only 7,065 employees in July, compared to the 7,970 available a year ago. “The result falls within grotesque keys, even comical if it were not for the consequences of such a decision,” they say, referring to the resolution agreed by the two organizations. Within the text they describe as “titanic” the effort made by public workers “to respond to the greatest administrative challenge that the Administration of this country has faced throughout the democratic period.”
With this reduction in the workforce, the unions predict a delay in the time for the recognition of economic rights of the unemployed population and deny that the cut will alleviate the general accounts, since “the difficulties and imperfections in management that this cut in workforce will far exceed what is intended to be saved ”. The letter concludes by requesting a meeting “urgently” with the minister. Asked if they have received a response from the Treasury, from CSIF they assure that “not yet.”
Other types of incidents have also been added to the complications derived from the increase in work in the last 14 months. On March 9, the SEPE computer system was the victim of a cyberattack that disabled a large part of its equipment and prevented access to the body’s website and electronic headquarters. The virus that caused the infection, typology ransomware (which causes an express kidnapping of data and demands a ransom for them) caused the work to stop in the 710 SEPE offices that provide face-to-face service and in the 52 telematics, as reported by CSIF. The assault affected both the computers at the workstations and the laptops of the staff who were teleworking. As confirmed by sources from the Ministry of Labor, all computers have been operational for a long time and the service is provided normally.