Following the increase in employment, wages. The Government has approved this week a public employment offer (OEP) for more than 44,700 places throughout 2022, a level that he has pointed out is the "highest in history". Half are new positions and the rest are for internal promotion and to consolidate positions occupied by interims. The unions have not hidden their satisfaction after reaching an agreement last Monday, although they also do not hide that there are aspects related to the work of the officials that still have to be resolved. The main point is the wage increase.
A few days before the new public employment offer was agreed upon -which exclusively covers the General State Administration- CCOO and UGT already issued a statement urging the Secretary of State for Public Function to convene in the shortest possible time a negotiating table to deal with aspects such as salary increases. Otherwise, they advanced that there would be mobilizations by the group of public workers. Some mobilizations that the CSIF union, another of the majority union forces in the public sector, has already started this Wednesday.
"We should not take long to meet, the 2% that has been raised this year to officials has turned out to be much lower than inflation," says Rosa Cuadrado, spokesperson for the public area of the CCOO. "There has to be a salary recovery because we have chained 12 years of loss of purchasing power," she adds. Cuadrado emphasizes that this negotiation must affect all workers in the public sector in Spain, not only those in the General Administration, so the negotiating table is different from the one agreed this week by the public job offer.
From CSIF, the loss of purchasing power of public workers since 2010 has been quantified at 15%. "We have been asking the Ministry since March to begin salary negotiations to deal with the increase in inflation and they have been silent in response", Union sources defend. Although there are other open issues for this group that must be negotiated in the coming months, they place the salary increase as the most pressing aspect.
Isabel Araque, responsible for union action at the UGT Public Function, defends that "public employees cannot be left without salary review again." "You cannot carry the consequences of the crisis on your shoulders once again," she adds. "Neither can nor are we going to allow three million public employees to be left without the salary update that justly corresponds to them," she emphasizes.
Like workers in the private sector, civil servants and public employees have bought in the first months of this year that the increase that was agreed for this year through the General State Budgets has turned out to be lower than inflation. The latest CPI data, in April, reached 8.3%, compared to a 2% wage increase. The war in Ukraine has put more pressure on prices than has been seen since last summer and officials believe that wages should be updated.
Salary improvements are not a new claim by the group, although they have been urged in recent weeks by the increase in inflation. In the private sector, unions and employers negotiated mechanisms for the salary increase of the new agreements that would avoid the loss of purchasing power of the workers, although the negotiation ended up stalled without an agreement. The CEOE ended up proposing to its associates that there be "salary moderation" and avoid linking salaries and inflation.
In the public sector the points do not seem very different. The Minister of Finance and Public Function, María Jesús Montero, stated this Tuesday after the council of ministers that the Government must "combat inflation" and, for this, "cannot convert any circumstantial measure into a structural one." "It must be done [la subida salarial de los funcionarios] on time and properly, with caution," she said. The minister, who is both responsible for public employment and State accounts, opted to wait for the indicator "to be modulated" in the second half of this year and Therefore, it will be “after the summer” when the negotiations will “intensify.” Therefore, he links this negotiation with the elaboration of the next General State Budgets, which are called to be the last of the legislature.
In the past, unions have protested the ways in which wage negotiations are usually carried out in the public sector, since they understand that not much room for maneuver is usually left. For this reason, they have been advocating for time that the negotiation be carried out with more time and with a multi-year plan. This is an idea shared by the three majority unions, that an action plan be set that at the end of a medium-term time horizon has allowed officials to recover greater purchasing power. "We are responsible in our claims, but a message of trust must be given to the public sector," they point out from CSIF.
A month ago, the Government sent to Brussels an update of the Stability Program, where it outlines some basic lines of State spending and income for the coming years. In the document, the Executive avoided assessing this possible pluriannual agreement and pointed out that "as of 2023" a salary increase for public employees is expected "in line with the evolution of prices for the period contemplated", which in the forecasts that it manages the Government is significantly lower than that of this course. That is, it was ruled out to make an additional update due to the price increase this year.
Wages are not the only problem that the unions consider and that must be addressed at the negotiating table. Cuadrado, from CCOO, summarizes that one of the key points is the "updating" of the Basic Statute of the Public Employee, which indicates that it has not been modernized for two decades. This section includes subjects such as professional careers and their levels in the administration according to the level of studies. "It is necessary to update and reform it," says Cuadrado.
The CCOO spokeswoman also points out other aspects such as equality plans in the administration and in public companies, a fact to which private companies are obliged from a certain size and that in public companies there is a delay, according to Cuadrado. She also points to other demands that come from afar, such as the recovery of 35 hours per week, since in 2012 they rose to 37.5 hours.
From Csif other pending agreements are also incorporated within the civil service, such as the development of teleworking in the administration. This week, together with the public employment offer, the Council of Ministers agreed on a plan to reduce the administration's energy consumption that includes the recovery of the three days of teleworking. This was an agreement that was reached a year ago with the previous minister of the branch, Miquel Iceta, and that the unions claim that its realization and application are months late.
The agreement on the public employment offer has incorporated issues demanded by the unions such as the consolidation processes of interims or the speeding up of oppositions for internal mobility, reducing time and content. In addition, the commitment has been achieved by the Government that the places announced in a public employment offer go out to competition in the same year. However, Cuadrado recalls one last claim that, like the salary increase, will depend on the Budgets: the elimination of the replacement rate. The unions maintain that the existence of these percentages that limit the creation of positions in the face of retirement have caused the rise of temporary employment in the past and the reduction of the templates.