Celebration and vindication. The big day of workers returns to the streets without restrictions due to the pandemic. This May Day, a festive and demanding day for labor rights at the international level, the vast majority of unions have focused their claims on wage increases. The majority, CCOO and UGT, have also highlighted the progress made in recovering rights in the labor reform, the ERTE, the minimum wage and other social dialogue agreements.
Unions and employers run aground on wages after having reached a multitude of agreements
"I think there is no May Day with so many rights conquered", celebrated Pepe Álvarez, general secretary of the UGT, at the Madrid demonstration. The CCOO leader, Unai Sordo, has vindicated the efforts of social dialogue to achieve a social solution to the pandemic crisis and has warned that "it is the opposite of what we see now". Sordo has denounced that "the crisis and the uncertainty due to the war in Ukraine cannot be paid by the workers".
In a scenario of skyrocketing prices, due to exorbitant energy prices that have already spread to many other items, advances in wages (if any) are lagging far behind. The result: an impoverishment of working people, who suffocates millions of them who were just arriving at the end of the month.
The majority unions, CCOO and UGT, have marched through the streets of the country with the slogan 'The Solution. Raise wages, contain prices, more equality'. The Union USE also claims "raising wages is the only way out of the crisis" and CSIF, organization with considerable weight in public administrations, this May Day has been directed to guarantee the purchasing power of workers, but also to ensure that there are no "cuts" in public services in the face of economic difficulties due to the war in Ukraine. For their part, the anarcho-syndicalist organizations CNT Y CGT They emphasize avoiding the impoverishment of the working class and the need for "social conquests" in the face of the "fiasco" of the labor reform, respectively.
The current inflationary situation, which worsened due to the war in Ukraine, is a challenge for the country's economy and takes its toll on millions of households in a country like Spain, with high levels of poverty and many precarious homes. "When you don't have enough, these things are much more noticeable," Estefanía, a young worker with two children and her partner who is unemployed, tells elDiario.es. Estefanía and Isabel stand out in this report how having a job does not guarantee you on many occasions to make ends meet. “Psychologically, it affects. It makes you angry because you're working and you have the right to live like the others, but they won't let you”, says Isabel.
May Day with the approved labor reform
This May 1 is celebrated with the labor reform of the coalition government already approved and unfolding its effects. With an unprecedented boom in indefinite work and with the repeal of some elements of the 2012 PP reform, such as the prevalence of the company agreement over the sectoral agreement, which weighed down wages and worsened working conditions in many companies.
The Second Vice President and Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, present at the demonstration, stressed that "for the first time we can say that we came out of a crisis by improving people's lives", in reference to the pandemic. The government spokeswoman, Isabel Rodríguez, has spoken in the same vein, criticizing the right for “voting against” these rights.
Díaz has announced that in the next few days the panel of experts will be convened for the elaboration of the Workers' Statute "of the 21st century", one of the electoral commitments of the government coalition. This will review more labor law issues beyond those addressed in the reform approved at the end of 2021.
Notice to employer resistance
The unions have also focused this May Day on wages in the face of resistance from employers. CCOO and UGT, as majority organizations, negotiate with the CEOE and Cepyme employers the state agreement for collective bargaining (the so-called AENC), but the salary debate has run aground. After a multitude of agreements in the social dialogue in recent years, in the tripartite negotiation that includes the Government, the social agents are blocked in the discussion on wages. "We are not going to compromise," Unai Sordo warned about wage increases.
The unions demand that, despite the fact that more moderate increases can now be agreed, the purchasing power of the workers be guaranteed with salary review clauses. Clauses that should adjust the increases to the evolution of prices at the end of this year and in the following two. Businessmen flatly reject linking wages to price trends and insist on the inflationary risk that this step may entail.
In the current context, economists warn of the risk that the rise in energy prices that has triggered inflation will spread to other elements of the economy, generating inflationary loops. Employers cling to these warnings to deny salary increases according to prices, but unions warn that this rise is already being reflected in many other prices, so that companies are increasing their income, and reject leaving behind workers. Workers.
At the head of the demonstration, this May Day there is another novelty. The usual masculinized image of the banner has been altered, of union leaders always headed by men, which in recent years has been tried to dilute giving space to those responsible for equality in both organizations. This International Labor Day there are two women in the center, but because both unions lead for the first time in the Community of Madrid. They are Paloma López, secretary general of the CCOO in the region, and Marina Prieto, her counterpart at UGT.
The two majority unions have general secretaries for the first time on the big day of workers, this May 1. “It is the work that we have been developing for a long time. Our managements are joint, in addition more than 48% of our membership in Madrid are women, with which reaching the general secretary is the natural evolution of a feminist union, "says Paloma López. “It is evident that in recent years there have been great advances in the equality of women and men in society and within the union as well. The clear fact is that I am the first woman to lead the union in Madrid”, highlights Marian Prieto for her part.
Both union leaders recall that in addition to what has been achieved, there are still steps to be taken to achieve equality in the labor market. To this end, López and Prieto underline the importance of a tool that can bring to light multiple inequalities faced by women workers and in which the unions have a lot to say: equality plans.
“They are going to help us correct the different gaps that occur in the labor market. Since March 7, these plans must be negotiated in companies with more than 50 workers and this implies a lot of work and effort from the union to carry them out, ”says the CCOO leader in Madrid. The leader of UGT Madrid celebrates the ability of these plans to reduce the wage gap, to which she considers that the unions have contributed especially with the agreements to raise the minimum wage. "We will continue working and moving forward," both union leaders maintain.