Last week, a few words from Antonio Garamendi, president of the CEOE, during an interview were understood as an endorsement of the pardons of the politicians imprisoned in Catalonia, in line with the position expressed by the Catalan businessmen themselves at the Cercle D’Economia . This positioning has raised a controversy in some sectors that the employer’s leader now intends to settle. “I have not said that I am in favor,” he assured during his participation in the UIMP summer courses in Santander. “I do not say the phrase of the pardons, if it is a confusion on my part I ask for forgiveness, or if it could be understood in another way,” he emphasized.
The committee of experts proposes an increase in the minimum wage of between 1.3% and 2% in 2021 in full debate in the Government
Cross-examined by the different journalists, the CEOE president has assured that these are words that “are taken out of context” and that the CEOE “has not entered or is not going to enter” a topic that it considers “political”, as is the case of pardons. It does understand, of course, that the different organizations that make up the employer’s association position themselves, but that there will not be a unified position within the CEOE. “It cannot be interpreted from what I said that it seemed good to me, what I am seeing saddens me because we do not deserve it,” he emphasized. “I am suffering a series of considerations that I do not deserve,” he assured.
Garamendi has been the third person in the economic world to participate in the conferences held in the Cantabrian capital this week, after Minister Nadia Calviño and the president of BBVA, Carlos Torres. The leader of Spanish businessmen has walked through the different issues that currently affect his organization, especially in the heart of social dialogue. One of them has been the open debate in the Government regarding the increase in the Interprofessional Minimum Wage and that has as conflicting positions Calviño herself with the Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz.
The CEOE president has positioned himself closer to Calviño’s thesis, defending that “this is not the time” to raise it. “Now it is a question of consolidating employment in companies,” the business leader has defended, although he has acknowledged that among his represented “few speak of the SMI”, because it does not affect all communities and sectors. “At this time it does not touch because we think it is the best for the economy, with companies facing solvency or activity problems,” he remarked. Of course, he has stated that the measure is the prerogative of the Government and that businessmen do not have “the right of veto.”
Garamendi has clearly charged against the group of experts on the Minimum Wage, created by Labor but with representatives from other areas of the Government such as Finance or Economic Affairs, as well as the unions. The employers were also invited but, as the CEOE president recalled, they decided not to participate. “It is a group of experts who are going to say the same as those who have chosen them,” he pointed out. “He has my respects but in my holy house I have hundreds of experts,” he said. “I do not validate this group of experts.”
The employer’s leader has ensured that the goal of reaching a minimum wage in 2023 that reaches 60% of the average wage in Spain does not affect him. “It is an agreement of the Government, of the PSOE with Podemos, we have no obligation to do so,” he asserted.
Garamendi has also addressed other issues on the social dialogue table, such as pension reform. The CEOE president has assured that “we like music but we have yet to see the lyrics”, referring to the fact that “the process is not going bad, but there are still fringes.” Of course, the employer representative has criticized that the Government has “eagerness” to “give news every day” and that “trust and discretion are better partners in the negotiation.”
The third of the issues on the table that he has valued is that of labor reform. Garamendi recalled that Brussels has not positioned itself on the current rule, but it does require changes in terms of hiring or active employment policies. The businessman has defended the regulation that Trabajo now wants to modify, ensuring that he has the support of the IMF, the OECD, the ECB or the Bank of Spain. “We will sit at the table with the premise of a possible improvement,” he assured. “If we consider that it can be improved, we will support it,” he defended, arguing that it would come after the summer. “If what you want is to restrict, you will not have our approval,” he has settled.
Garamendi has been confident that from now on there will be an improvement in the economy, especially thanks to the opening up of tourism and the significant spending capacity that households have with the savings reserved during the last year. Thus, it has opened the door for the last agreement to extend the ERTE program, until the end of September, to have been the last. “They have to come to an end and this summer there is going to be a spectacular drop in the number of people in ERTE,” he pointed out. Although, he has emphasized that there will still be some sectors affected by the lack of activity.