Until the last minute. Reissuing an unprecedented scenario in Europe and which has triggered legal insecurity in our country, the Government and social agents today have squeezed the negotiating table of force majeure ERTEs to the maximum, whose validity expires tomorrow. The table, which began to meet at eleven o’clock in the morning, ended at around nine o’clock at night with a proposal that the social agents must submit to their governing bodies early tomorrow morning. Whatever its outcome, tomorrow’s council of ministers will give the green light to the regulations.
The chances of an agreement are therefore extended to tomorrow morning. Sources of the negotiation point out that hope is still alive since, according to what they specify, some improvements in exonerations have been put on the table that could bring the positions closer. However, the atmosphere is less optimistic on the corporate shore where, although they refer to the executive meeting tomorrow, they refuse to speak in agreement. The unions would be, on the contrary, more prone to the agreement.
And it is that after an intense weekend in which the papers have flown from one side of the table to the other, the Government risked everything to a new proposal in which, although it maintained the aid only for some sectors and its chain of value, improved conditions of the companies that were left out of the umbrella through the so-called Regrowth ERTE. Thus, the Executive proposed assimilating the conditions of these regrowth ERTEs to those of force majeure in the event of a confinement or closure imposed by the Administration.
Specifically, the Government proposed exemptions in Social Security contributions of up to 85% in the companies most affected by the pandemic, discounts that could be accessed in three ways. The first of them is to be part of one of the sectors considered central in this pandemic (tourism, transport, culture …). The second is to show that the company’s turnover depends on a company considered to be the most affected (for example, a dry cleaner that works for a hotel that is now closed or a supermarket in a tourist area), that is, forming part of its «chain of value ». That the conditions are met should be authorized by the labor authority, a point that generated a strong rejection among the social agents who give an example of the collapses that occurred in the minimum vital income or the Sepe and reject such a bureaucratic process.
The third way to access these exemptions would be through regrowth ERTEs, but this would only protect in the event that the company has to close due to a confinement imposed by the authorities that limits or paralyzes its activity. In this case there is no sector limit to access. This would therefore be the only protection that would remain for severely damaged sectors such as hospitality and commerce.
As in the previous occasions, the exemptions also decrease as the months go by. Those offered are 85% and 75% in October and November, depending on whether the company has less than 50 workers or has a higher workforce. For the months of December 2020 and January 2021, the exemptions would be 70% and 60% in the first case and 60% and 50% in the second.
Since the negotiation table began in Palma de Mallorca on September 1, the talks have been tangled like a skein of wool. The positions between the social agents and the Government began closer but the internal discrepancies within the Government were in charge of putting distance. The extension of the ERTE has been, in fact, the cause of a new rift in the Government coalition that left the Minister of Labor, Yolanda Diaz, on the same side as employers and unions, and on the other to the holder of Social Security, Jose Luis Escrivá. The Minister of Economy, Nadia Calviño, -in favor of establishing more “surgical” aid due to budget restrictions- and the Minister of Tourism, Reyes Maroto, -who supported the idea of dedicating greater efforts to the industry of his portfolio.