March 3, 2021

“The priority now is to grow”


MADRID

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The labor reform once again constitutes an element of tension within the coalition government. It has always been an issue that has generated dissenting points of view between the PSOE and United We Can but today the Government spokesperson, María Jesús Montero, has certified in the press conference after the council of ministers that any legal modification of this draft it will have to be substantiated within the framework of social dialogue. The spokesperson was once again channeling a reform of these dimensions to the necessary agreement between the Government and the social agents.

In addition, Montero has cooled off the idea of ​​implementing a four-day work week as Vice President Iglesias had hinted when he assured that neither the council of ministers nor the “umbrella” of the government’s economic area has addressed this scheme and has asked not to lose the focus of the country’s priorities. “The government’s priority is to return to previous growth rates and establish a framework of stability so that investors decide to come to Spain,” he said. “We must not deconcentrate from what concerns us now,” he stressed.

Montero was trying to settle various controversies this week. On the one hand, the one opened by statements by the President of the Government in an interview with the newspaper of Catalonia this weekend in which he stated that without an agreement in the social dialogue there would be no repeal of the labor reform. These statements have been understood by the unions and by the purple part of the Government as granting a veto right to the business sector. The general secretary of the PCE, Enrique Santiago, recalled that same day that the government agreement between PSOE and UP specified the following: «We will repeal the labor reform. We will recover the labor rights taken away by the labor reform of 2012 ». Santiago stated that “in a democracy the rights of workers are inalienable” and that “social dialogue is not the right of veto.” And he pointed out that if there is no agreement, the reform should be taken to parliament.

The Government spokesperson has denied that such a veto right exists, opening the door in the future to a unilateral reform. But making it clear at the same time that for the moment they have marked the need to reach an agreement in this area: “The issues that have to do with such important matters must be discussed and agreed within the framework of social dialogue,” said Montero , defending the need to “return to the framework where we have found the best agreements” and as a method to “achieve the right balance.”

The priority right now is to finish sealing the approval of the PGE. From here, new debates will be opened, but the socialist part of the Government makes it clear that its bet differs from the proposals of Podemos that want to execute at all costs the points signed between both parties in the coalition Government agreement. In the socialist sector, it is considered that economic circumstances have changed substantially during the pandemic, and that some of the agreed issues must be addressed in a different way, with a new approach than previously agreed. This point is also linked to the firmness with which Montero has ruled out today a possible legal amendment to promote the four-day workday in our country.

Montero has assured that this debate has not taken place in the Council of Ministers, and that it has not been the subject of debate between the ministers of the economic part of the Executive. The spokeswoman has been very blunt in stating that at this time the priorities should be to recover the growth rates prior to the pandemic and generate a framework of stability that allows the return of investment flows to our country.

The controversy regarding the possibility of working four days and freeing three broke out last week when Vice President Iglesias was asked about an amendment from Más País that pointed precisely in this direction. Iglesias avoided criticizing the measure and, on the contrary, assured that the Ministry of Labor was “exploring” it within the framework of “social dialogue.” “We have always been in favor of reducing the working day. The proposal is interesting and I know that the Ministry of Labor of Yolanda Díaz is studying it, and within the framework of social dialogue it will be explored because it would undoubtedly favor the generation of employment, “he said.

The Errejón amendment specifically proposed that an investment of 50 million euros be enabled in incentives for companies that took advantage of this 32-hour work week. And, as Errejón advanced, he will raise it again this week in the process that the General Budgets are currently going through in the Senate.

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