The reform of part of the Rajoy labor reform remains on the most immediate agenda of the Pedro Sánchez Government. The Council of Ministers approved its regulatory plan on Tuesday, with the legislative changes proposed for this second semester of the year, which includes modifications in the so-called ‘most harmful elements’ of the PP labor legislation, such as El País has advanced. It is a commitment of the coalition government prior to the pandemic, which remains on this roadmap for 2020 despite the reluctance within the Executive of the economic vice president, Nadia Calviño, and the employers’ associations, who after the outbreak of the coronavirus have refused to approve these changes more emphatically.
Calviño sees “absurd and counterproductive opening the debate” on the repeal of the labor reform in the midst of the coronavirus crisis
Vice-presidency Carmen Calvo has been in charge of reviewing the most outstanding projects of the regulatory plan, among which she has not highlighted labor changes. The text of the legislative plan is very generic and refers to a Law to modify “the structure, the temporal scope and the conditions of non-application of collective bargaining, as well as the mechanisms of contracting and business subcontracting.” Executive sources explain that it refers to recovering the priority of the sector agreement over that of the company, reestablishing the ultra-activity of collective agreements (so that they do not decline when there is no new one), as well as the lowering of agreements and subcontracting. “Also to a certain extent the limitation of the ability to unilaterally modify working conditions by the company”, add official sources.
The aforementioned issues, which in the past socialist government called “the most damaging elements” of the labor reform of the PP, were those that the Ministry of Labor already intended to address in the first phase of dismantling the legislation of the Government of Rajoy. Minister Yolanda Díaz proposed a repeal, which would not be total or at once, in several phases: modify several more urgent elements in the short term, others in the medium and, finally, an in-depth review of the whole of the Workers’ Statute “to adapt it to the 21st century.”
These most urgent elements are those that the coalition government intends to approve this year, according to executive sources, which will be addressed in any case in the social dialogue with the unions and employers’ employers. The role of social dialogue in these changes generates some differences within the Government. The president, Pedro Sánchez, has circumscribed the modifications to which there is agreement at the negotiating table, while Minister Yolanda Díaz always guarantees social dialogue, although she recognizes that after it there may or may not be an agreement.
The inclusion of the dismantling of part of the labor reform in this year’s regulatory plan, although it was on the government’s agenda before the pandemic, is remarkable after the outbreak of the coronavirus. Vice President Nadia Calviño reinforced her opposition to these revisions of the labor legislation after the agreement of the PSOE, Unidas Podemos and EH Bildu to repeal the labor reform in exchange for the support of the Basque party for one of the extensions of the state of alarm. Calviño said that he saw “absurd and counterproductive opening” this debate in full pandemic. The pact with EH Bildu, which later lowered the PSOE, unleashed the anger of the businessmen, who staged a sit-in at the negotiating table with the Government.
In the context of a pandemic, the employers have increased their opposition to dismantling the PP labor reform. Although CEOE and Cepyme insist that they are open to “talking” and negotiating aspects of labor legislation, their leaders have affirmed that given the current crisis situation they do not consider that it is the moment for it. In the majority unions, CCOO and UGT, they think just the opposite and consider “urgent” to tackle these modifications to avoid salary cuts in the short term.
“After agreeing on the extension of the ERTE and the Distance Work Law, we should immediately begin to negotiate these issues,” Unai Sordo, leader of CCOO, points out to elDiario.es, who recalls that “this first part was very hackneyed, we were well advanced the negotiation “after the work of the last legislature, when Magdalena Valerio was in charge of Labor. “We cannot just be working on the issues that have to do with the pandemic, but we also have to talk about the structural problems of the country,” said Pepe Álvarez, secretary general of the UGT at Servimedia, where he stressed that this topic “does not support waiting”.
Telecommuting, ‘Rider Law’ and other regulations
The regulatory plan includes several laws and decrees that affect the workplace, among which the Distance Work Law stands out, which aims to regulate teleworking conditions and which the Ministry of Labor is finalizing with the unions and employers these days. Although the text is not yet closed, sources from the social dialogue explain that there are no longer important differences between the parties and that the latest “technical details” are being outlined. Work agreed to raise 30% of the day outside the center to define telework, from the initial 20%, which was one of the last reluctance of the most prominent employers.
In the pulse with Vice President Calviño, the Minister of Labor also points out the inclusion in the normative plan of the so-called Rider Law, on work on digital platforms, which the economic vice-presidency has tried to delay, according to union and sector sources. Although initially the Ministry of Labor referred to this law in a broad manner, the regulatory plan is limited to workers in “distribution activities”, so it would not reach the set of digital platforms in other sectors.
A new Public Function Law is also being proposed, which will renew the regulatory framework for public workers to “face renovating transformations”, highlighted Carmen Calvo. The Ministry of Public Function, led by Carolina Darias, recently agreed with the Communities and Municipalities reform labor legislation for public employees to promote teleworking and reduce temporary work.
The legislative route for 2020 also includes the approval of the Co-Responsible Labor Law, with which Labor intends to transpose the Community Directive on the reconciliation of family and work life of parents and caregivers, in order to improve reconciliation options. It also includes the transposition of a European directive on the protection of workers against carcinogens, in which the previous one-color government of the PSOE intended to expand exposure to some agents (such as silica) and that it counted on the opposition of Yolanda Díaz, then in opposition.
Other notable revisions include the increase in the sanctions of the Law on Offenses and Sanctions in the Social Order (LISOS), unchanged since 2000, so that the “variation” of the CPI is taken into account.