December 3, 2020

The Government will ratify the revised European Social Charter “before the end of the year” and the protocol to denounce the State for its non-compliance

The coalition government will ratify the revised European Social Charter “before the end” of the year, the Minister of Labor and Social Economy, Yolanda Díaz, announced this Tuesday in a response to the PNV in the Senate. Pending since 1996, the Executive will adhere to this charter of fundamental social and economic rights, as well as to the Protocol of Collective Claims, which allows social agents (trade union and business organizations) and NGOs to denounce the State in question for breaching the guarantees recognized in the Charter.

Overtime, insufficient notice and holidays not guaranteed: Spain's breaches of the European Social Charter

Overtime, insufficient notice and holidays not guaranteed: Spain’s breaches of the European Social Charter

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Yolanda Díaz has defended the importance of this step, because it represents a “guarantee” of rights, which The one-color government of Pedro Sánchez has already started, but that finally remained without being ratified by the Congress when advancing the end of the legislature. The Council of Ministers will re-sign the Revised European Social Charter to be sent to Congress “before the end of the year,” said Díaz. The minister explained that the process is being directed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that “the procedure is not easy”, of a minimum of “six months”.

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 on rights recognized 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 explain 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.” Yolanda Díaz has compared the Social Charter with “an authentic social Constitution of Europeans”, which had it been in force “it would not have been possible to approve a labor reform like that of the PP,” she argued.

Possibility of reporting to the State

The Minister of Labor has also advanced that the Government will ratify the Collective Claims Protocol, “as important as the Charter”, which the previous Executive of Pedro Sánchez did not sign. It is a mechanism that allows social agents and NGOs to denounce one or more States for possible non-compliance with 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.

With its ratification, social organizations may file complaints with the European Committee if they find non-compliance with Spain. For example, last June the Committee found 34 violations of articles of the European Social Charter regarding equal pay between men and women in fourteen countries as a response to the collective claims filed by the international NGO Universidad Mujeres de Europa (UWE in its English acronym) against 15 countries that accept this mechanism. Spain was not one of the countries evaluated, having not ratified it.


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