Once again the social partners have decided to agree to price-indexed wage increases. In Spain, there is a tradition of negotiating salary increase percentages, or at most price-indexed salary review clauses, but the salary structure is never debated. In other words, there is a lot of negotiation about how much is paid and little for what is being paid.
The country would do much better if issues such as the participation of workers in company profits -where the salary depends on how well the company/sector is doing- or the linking of salaries to productivity increases.
The introduction of these salary determination systems tends to be of particular interest to employers since it implies that the company will only increase the salary if it is in a position to do so (because profits or productivity have improved). In addition, multiple academic studies from around the world indicate that this type of link between salary and business results increases the productivity of companies by involving the worker and encouraging his effort. In other words, the worker is aware that if the company does well, he will receive part of the success: which improves commitment and effort.
However, this business preference for the participation in benefits/productivity of workers, adopted in the rest of the European countries and especially in the US, does not seem to be shared in Spain. Precisely, in this negotiation close to completion, the CCOO proposed to agree on salary increases linked to business margins and it has been the employer who has declined the offer.
The reasons are not easy to explain. A report from the European Commission that analyzed the surprising lack of use of salary systems linked to business results in Spain concluded that the main business reason for rejecting the use of these is that companies do not want workers to “control” their annual accounts . That is, according to this study, employers understand that if wages depend on company profits, the unions will have more reasons to demand greater transparency regarding the profits declared by the company, and may even question their veracity.
If this study by the European Commission is right, it seems an insufficient argument. Transparency in profit margins should be a prerequisite in a democratic State and not a reason to oppose salary systems that, according to academic studies, will improve the productivity and competitiveness of our companies and, in general, of the economy. Spanish.
Finally, to end on a note of hope, perhaps if the profit margin observatory announced by the Calviño government’s vice president gains momentum and the current secrecy regarding corporate profits is reduced, in a few years we can really begin to introduce salary systems linked to business benefits/productivity to get closer to other countries around us.
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