The Council of Ministers this Tuesday takes the first step towards the ratification of the revised European Social Charter. The Minister of Labor has already announced that the Government intended to sign “before the end of the year”. Pending since 1996, the coalition government agrees to send the ratification to the Congress of Deputies with the intention that the Cortes support Spain’s adherence to this framework of social and economic rights, which guarantee rights in Europe such as housing and dignity at work, among others.
Overtime, insufficient notice and holidays not guaranteed: Spain’s breaches of the European Social Charter
The Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, celebrates the step taken this Tuesday by the Executive in an article in elDiario.es. “The international guarantee of these rights, the prerogatives of the weak as we said at the beginning, supposes the consolidation of our Social State, putting an end to the self-exclusion of Spain from the most important text of all those that guarantee social rights in Europe”, he highlights Diaz.
The Ministry of Labor also explains that the Council of Ministers also refers to the Cortes the adherence to the Protocol of Collective Claims, which allows social agents (trade union and business organizations) and NGOs to denounce the State in Europe, in this case Spain , for breaching the social guarantees recognized in the Charter.
The European Social Charter, opened for signature in Turin on October 18, 1961, guarantees the fundamental social and economic rights of European citizens and was ratified by Spain on May 6, 1980. The Charter was updated and expanded in 1996 ( accessible here in PDF), but Spain did not ratify its revision. Among the rights added in 1996 are protection in the event of dismissal, dignity at work, equal opportunities for workers with family responsibilities and protection against poverty and social exclusion, among others.
Sources from the Ministry of Labor explained to this medium that, although Spain fulfills many of these rights at present, the objective of the coalition Government is to ensure them for the future, “whoever is in the Government.” The past Executive of Pedro Sánchez started this ratification, but that finally remained without being ratified by the Congress when advancing the end of the legislature.
“Now that Spain ratifies the revised Social Charter, it will not only be incorporating a new European convention: it will be showing to the international community, and to the Spanish citizens of today and tomorrow, that social rights and people’s well-being are spaces won for a better democracy in which it is no longer possible to go backwards “, Yolanda Díaz points out in her article.
According to the minister in the Senate, the ratification process is being directed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the participation of Labor, Economy and Social Rights, among other teams. “The processing is not easy,” said Yolanda Díaz in the Upper House, for a minimum of “six months.”
Complaints to the EU
On this occasion, the coalition government has also given its approval to the accession of Spain to the Protocol of Collective Claims, “as important as the Charter,” said Minister Díaz in her announcement in the Senate. It is a mechanism that allows social agents and NGOs to denounce one or more States for breaches of the European Social Charter before the European Committee of Social Rights.
This body is the guarantor of compliance with the rights embodied in the Charter and that in the last report on Spain, last year, it considered that Spain was in breach of several of its precepts, as for uncompensated overtime and insufficient notice in case of dismissal, among others.
When the accession procedure is completed, as planned, social organizations may file complaints with the European Committee if they find breaches by Spain.