The dismissals for employment regulation files (ERE) in Catalonia in the first six months of the year (2,337 workers) were practically the same as those that occurred throughout 2018 (2,359). If the first semester of the current year is compared with the same period of the previous year, the growth is of 80.5%, according to data published by the Observatori del Treball. The main company responsible for this increase is Nissan.
The 600 jobs lost in the aforementioned car company explain practically 58% of the increase of those affected (1.042). The general secretary of CC.OO., Javier Pacheco, says that "the increase in ERE is due to the Nissan effect" both for direct jobs and for component companies that have been affected by the fall in production at the factory in the Zona Franca de Barcelona.
In 2009, EREs affected more than 14,000 people
Despite the fact that the growth in the number of people affected is very high, the total volume of employees dismissed by ERE is in the low band, as shown in the graph. Although the trend of the first semester was maintained and the layoffs will be around 4,000, it would still be far from the levels of 2009 and 2012 when between 12,000 and 14,000 people lost their jobs through collective dismissal mechanisms.
"You have to be cautious with the ERE figures because it is still too early to anticipate any kind of crisis," reflects Pacheco. The general secretary of Treball, Josep Ginesta, is of the same opinion and affirms that "what you see in the figures are restructuring or reconversion processes such as Nissan and other very specific issues".
The figures of the EPA and Social Security are good because they show a reduction in unemployment
Ginesta adds that "we do not see a worrisome situation" since the data of the EPA (Active Population Survey) are not bad. The latest figures are those corresponding to the first quarter and show that the number of unemployed in Catalonia was 446,600 people, 12,100 less than a year earlier. The unemployment rate stood at 11.64% compared to 12.19% in the first quarter of 2018. The survey also shows a net employment creation of 87,700 people. Apart from Nissan, UGT Catalunya union policy secretary, Núria Gilgaldo, maintains that the increase of those affected by ERE has also to do with "the adjustments in banking and also with the increase in subcontracting". In his opinion, the elimination of the prior administrative authorization for the ERE causes files to be filed more easily.
Javier Ibars, director of Labor Relations of the employer Foment del Treball, is the most negative of all. In his opinion, the first reason for the increase in collective dismissals is "due to the economic slowdown that affects employment directly." The second explanation -according to the employer's representative- is for "a circumstantial situation of some companies" while the last reason is for the elimination of measures that allowed labor flexibility in companies.
For Pacheco, the most worrisome are not the collective dismissals since currently "it is destroyed more because of temporality". In fact, the temporary rate has grown as shown in the Annual Report of the Catalan economy presented this week. It was practically the only figure in the labor market that had worsened. In 2018, the temporary rate rose to 21.9% compared to 26.8% for Spain as a whole and far from 16.2% for the euro area.
The unions see the conjunctural figure while for the employers it is the reflection of the "economic slowdown"
The growth of layoffs by ERE also occurs in an environment of decline in industrial activity in Catalonia. In year-on-year terms, the GDP of the industry fell by 0.8% in the first quarter of the year. In fact, as can be seen in the attached information, most of the EREs presented this year corresponded to industrial companies such as Nissan, Calsonic or Total. In the figures of ERE in Catalonia, the files presented to Madrid are not taken into account because they affect more than one community such as CaixaBank, Santander, Vodafone or Dia.