The general secretary of UGT, Pepe Álvarez, indicated this Thursday that his organization will not support an increase in the interprofessional minimum wage of less than 5%. “We have few red lines, but this is one of them,” he indicated, after denouncing that the current 1,080 euros per month spread over 14 payments “does not represent 60% of the current average salary,” as Labor defends. The union leader has advocated using the data offered by the Tax Agency, Social Security and the European statistical office Eurostat to calculate the country’s average salary, and from there delimit a path of increases that will allow reaching 60% of that average, as the Government promised to do during the last legislature. At the same time, he has announced that his union has filed a complaint against Spain before the European Committee of Social Rights for not contemplating in its labor regulations an extra cost of overtime “of at least 25%”, which, in his opinion, , would serve to discourage a tool that in many cases has been considered fraudulent.
During a meeting held this Thursday at the headquarters in Madrid, the general secretary of UGT announced what the lines of action of his union will be for this year. Among the most immediate is the resolution of the new increase in the minimum wage, which, as the second vice president and Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, has announced, will be resolved in the meeting to which the social agents have been called this Friday. “We will not accept any percentage that is below 5%,” said Álvarez, which would place the new figure at at least 1,135 gross euros per month.
Despite this clarity, the general secretary of UGT has shown himself willing to moderate his expectations to achieve the support of businessmen. Because? “With the CEOE at your side, it is easier to transfer the increases in the SMI to the agreements than with it against you. “It is not blackmail, but rather a recognition of the weight that employers have over companies,” he indicated. CEOE and Cepyme announced after the last meeting that they will not support a 4% increase – as proposed by the Ministry of Labor and which they themselves considered reasonable at the beginning of the negotiation – since their other two requests – the indexation of the increase to contracts public contracts and bonuses in agricultural contracts—have not been accepted by the Government.
According to Álvarez, the difficulty in delimiting the average salary in the country – something that the committee of experts convened by Labor has denounced on several occasions – would be resolved using the official salary data collected by both the Tax Agency, Social Security and Eurostat. “Official, verifiable and non-debatable data must be used,” suggested the general secretary of UGT. Taking these studies as a reference, the resulting amount would be 28,360 euros per year, which would result – applying 60% – in a salary of 1,215 euros per month in 14 payments. “Does this mean it has to be done in a year? No. Therefore, the minimum for 2024 must be 5%, which would place it at 1,135 euros,” Álvarez indicated.
The minimum wage has been very present throughout Álvarez’s presentation, to the point that for the UGT leader this should be the reference when calculating unemployment benefits, and not the IPREM (Public Income Indicator for Effects Multiple). “It has to disappear as an instrument to determine income in our country. It is an invention that has been made to avoid raising social incomes. To fool us all a little. Furthermore, the Government does not consult whether it should be revalued, and that is why we want it to disappear and be changed by a new transparent indicator, which does not depend on the good mood of the Minister of Finance on duty,” she considered.
Use and abuse
The suppression of IMPREM has not been the only unexpected revelation of Álvarez’s appearance. As already happened with the cost of the dismissal, UGT has filed a new lawsuit before the European Committee of Social Rights against the Kingdom of Spain, in this case for not having contemplated in its labor regulations – the Workers’ Statute – a surcharge for the overtime, as stated in European legislation. “In Spain, around 13 million overtime hours are performed monthly, the equivalent of 180,000 permanent jobs. Half of them are not paid, and if they are paid, they are paid illegally,” denounced the union leader. “Therefore, yesterday [por este miércoles] We denounce to Europe that Spain is failing to comply with the European Social Charter and we demand that the extra cost of overtime be at least 25%,” he added.
In relation to the lawsuit filed more than a year and a half ago regarding compensation for unfair dismissal —both UGT and CC OO appealed to European bodies considering that this does not compensate the employee, as required by community regulations—, Álvarez has regretted “the “sticks in the wheel” that the Government (more specifically the Ministry of Justice) has put in place to delay a resolution that “should occur in February, but we will see if that is the case,” he said.
This has not been the only pinch that the UGT leader has given the coalition government. As the general secretary of CC OO, Unai Sordo, did on Wednesday, Pepe Álvarez has also demanded that greater weight be given to collective bargaining, giving as an example of the opposite the unemployment benefit reform that this Wednesday brought down the Congress. “You will find little of us in the debate and the political-partisan brawl, and even less between left-wing political groups that we would like to understand each other. The horizon of the left in our country has to be to alleviate the problems that people with fewer resources have,” Álvarez suggested, in reference to Podemos’s vote against the reform of the unemployment benefit received by the unemployed over the age of 10. 52 years raised by Labor, and which did not achieve sufficient support to move forward.
Vice President Díaz has announced that she will bring together the social agents to address this reform again, to which Álvarez has replied that her union will “return to the starting point” that it raised in this negotiation, and that it will remain waiting to find out “ What does the Government bring to the table? “Previously, we ran into a pediment when we negotiated the whole renovation, so I would like to see the new elements. If they are just touch-ups or we can talk about the background,” she concluded.
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