Increase in the minimum pension and extend partial retirement: the changes that the unions ask Escrivá

The unions demand more changes to the Government for the final phase of the pension reform. Minister José Luis Escrivá has advanced some general lines of the two matters that he intends to address in this block, the period for calculating the pension and what the highest salaries contribute. CCOO and UGT require Social Security to expand the list of modifications, especially with two more issues: the extension of partial retirement and the increase in minimum pensions.

This is one of the results of the social dialogue meeting this Monday, the first of the pension table that activates the negotiation of the last block of changes of the reform committed to Brussels. The meeting has been a "first contact", Minister José Luis Escrivá pointed out in an interview on TVE. The Social Security has not presented any proposal in writing, according to sources of the negotiation, but has transferred the general framework that the minister has exposed to the media in several interviews this Monday.

The majority unions and employers, CCOO and UGT on the one hand and CEOE and Cepyme on the other, have called on the ministry to specify their proposals with numbers and papers. Social Security has promised to transfer soon its first proposal to enter into negotiations on content. Now, the trade union centrals have asked to expand the contents.

CCOO and UGT have brought to the negotiating table some matters that they consider should be added to the final stretch of the pension reform. Among them, they include reviewing minimum and non-contributory pensions to agree on increase mechanisms that do not depend on the will of the government in power, as well as extending partial retirement to all workers.

"The amounts of the minimum and non-contributory pensions must have a formula that guarantees the adequacy of the pensions in relation to the poverty risk thresholds," they point out in CCOO.

Carlos Bravo, secretary of Public Policies and Social Protection of the union, explained that the measure is proposed from the point of view of reducing the gender gap in pensions, since these lower benefits are received by more women. With this approach, the union also considers the "integration of the gaps" in the price to be essential.

On the other hand, the union centrals ask to extend the partial retirement and the relief contract to all the activities, not only the manufacturing industry, as the leader of the UGT, Pepe Álvarez, insisted last week. Partial retirement allows a working person to reduce their working hours by receiving a reduced salary and part of the pension, while the relief contract enables the entry of a new worker in their place.

Partial retirement was one of the issues that fell off the negotiating table in the first block of the pension reform due to lack of consensus and now, the unions are asking to recover it. At that moment, the Ministry intended to limit the possibilities of reducing the working dayrestricting the option of concentrating it to prevent partial retirement from being used as a "disguised" early retirement mechanism, Minister Escrivá pointed out.

CCOO and UGT have pointed out that, before entering to negotiate this latest package of modifications, there are still several pending commitments that hang from the first pension agreement. First, the contribution of all scholarship holders. Also "the problems that are occurring in the calculation of the regulatory base of the temporary disability benefit of people with fixed-discontinuous contract, especially in the agricultural sector, continue without a normative solution", they highlight in CCOO. From UGT they also remember the start-up of the Social Security Agency, also pending.

From the Ministry of Social Security they respond to elDiario.es that, at the moment, the two issues that the minister has mentioned are on the table (the calculation period and the maximum pensions), although they recognize that "the negotiation begins now" . This cannot be extended much, since the Government promised Brussels to close the changes before the end of the year.

The unions have urged the Ministry of Social Security to detail the proposal of the Executive to be able to enter to debate it. For example, it is known that the Government plans to increase the maximum pension and what the highest salaries contribute (the maximum contribution bases) progressively over the next 25 or 30 years, but there is no detail of how much it wants to increase and if the rise in the contribution is linked to the same increase in the future pension.

The person in charge of Social Security has also anticipated that the debate on the calculation period of the pension will revolve around "three levers". In the first place, to extend the calculation period (today located in the last 25 years), but "at the same time" to combine the measure with two others: to be able to rule out "the worst years" of the labor career and/or a "better treatment " of gaps in professional life. José Luis Escrivá has ruled out this Monday that the extension of the period reaches 35 years, but has not specified what figures the Executive handles. Nor how many years are expected to be excluded.

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