keys to understand a labor dispute based on discrimination

This Wednesday night the referees' strike has been unblocked after a tense week, with the Women's League and the Queen's Cup paralyzed. The agreement between the parties - the referees, supported by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), and the F League - will allow competitions to resume. Although a formal meeting was scheduled for Thursday morning, finally the announcement of the end of the strike came in the form of a joint statement at the stroke of midnight. The pact supposes the professionalization of the figure of the collegiate, until now the only women's football sector that worked without a contract.

Throughout this last week there have been several meetings and cross talks that, until now, had not produced results. On the one hand, the referees, supported by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), claiming their labor rights. On the other, La Liga F, the organization organizing the competition, which rejected their demands from the outset. Finally, the Higher Sports Council, which depends on the Government, and which has mediated in recent hours to cool down the conflict.

In the statement made public by the RFEF, the agreement is valued and the role of the public entity is highlighted: "Throughout today's session there have been a succession of conversations between the Higher Sports Council and the RFEF that have borne fruit in a historic agreement for the professionalization of the refereeing establishment in football”. The outcome comes, according to the statement, "through the consolidation of some budget items for which the CSD will contribute an amount of 350,000 extra euros per year during the first three seasons." For its part, the F League has spoken through another statement in which it charges against the RFEF and celebrates that the competition will resume "after the shameful episode of Day 1 that should never have been allowed."

The last to achieve professionalization

Until now, soccer referees were not considered professionals. There are many who, after years of working, have not quoted a single day. Without a contract they were not entitled to paid sick leave, unemployment or vacations. They were outside the labor system with all that that entails in terms of rights, and also in terms of wages.

After years of demands, for the first time this season the F League – the first division of women's football – was going to be professional, but only for the players. The referees, a fundamental figure for the celebration of the matches, were left out of the progress in rights. Faced with this situation, and after trying to negotiate several times throughout the summer, they decided to call a strike to coincide with the start of the competition.

Their demands are based on the professionalization of their figure: they demanded a labor contract with a minimum wage. This is how the referee Marta Frías, one of the group's spokespersons, summed it up at a press conference last Monday: “I've been in arbitration for 21 years and I haven't contributed a single day. I was unemployed for seven months due to a back injury, I paid for the physiotherapist, I had to pay for private insurance and on top of that I didn't get paid. If we don't whistle, we don't get paid. We are not claiming something economic, but a contract, ”explained the referee. In that same appearance, her partner Marta Huerta de Aza, an international referee, recounted how she did not receive any type of support after her recent motherhood.

One of the hot spots of the negotiation was in the economic section, as is usual in this type of conflict. And here the figures differ depending on who counts them. The referees initially asked to work under contract and reduce the salary gap with respect to their fellow referees. Until now, the main referee of a match received around 300 euros. The entire arbitration team received 3,300 euros for each match, to be distributed among them –main referee, assistants and fourth referee–, and from which travel expenses, diets and material had to be deducted.

The initial demand of the group was to agree on an income of 21,000 euros per year at the beginning, to gradually reach 50,000. The League offered to cut it in half, and finally the agreement raises her salary to 34,000 euros per year, according to Cadena Ser. In the League F statement, other amounts are mentioned: “The main referee goes from 300 to 1,666 euros per match; the assistants, from 166 to 1,066; and the fourth referee from 84 to 250”, they say.

In any case, the wage gap remains open. Comparison with their male peers, the professional referees in men's competitions, remains uneven. Members of the Santander League earn around 12,500 monthly, 150,000 per year. Taking into account only that base salary, the agreement reached by the referees supposes a salary of less than a quarter of that of their male colleagues. But in their case, to that base you have to add several extras, such as 4,000 euros for each game directed, 7,000 if they are from the Champions League.

As for the first division players, as of this season, professionalization has meant that they have to earn at least a minimum salary of 16,000 euros, according to the F League itself. But the star athletes of clubs with more budget can reach exceed 100,000 euros per year. Light years from the astronomical figures handled by first division players.

Source link