During the first years of the coalition, the Popular Party pressured the employers with increasing intensity, even questioning the figure of its leader, Antonio Garamendi, due to the successive agreements that he signed with the Government and the unions. One after another, these 13 agreements were an obvious disavowal of the policy of Pablo Casado, who insisted that Pedro Sánchez is not trustworthy and no agreement could be made with him because he was leading Spain to economic disaster. Garamendi, heavily pressured by the most conservative sectors inside and outside the employers’ association, especially in some media, defended himself: “we don’t do politics, we make agreements if they are good for the country.” And so the leader of the employers paraded through La Moncloa for a pension pact, supported the first increase in the minimum wage, agreed to the ERTE agreements that helped maintain the productive fabric during the pandemic, closed teleworking or worker pacts of the platforms, and finally reached the zenith of this policy with the agreement on the labor reform. The PP, outraged by this attitude of Garamendi, boycotted that pact, voted against it in Congress and maneuvered to try to bring it down with two UPN defectors, although the operation went wrong due to the error of a PP deputy.
Since the arrival of Alberto Núñez Feijóo at the head of the PP, just over a year ago, the Government was convinced that the employers were changing course and Garamendi no longer had the political space for further agreements with the Government. In fact, the employer forcefully rejected the last increase in the minimum wage to 1,080 euros. Garamendi has been hardening the speeches against the Government, especially since Sánchez’s turn to the left in the debate on the state of the nation last July that led him to promote an extraordinary tax on banks, another on large energy companies and one more to great fortunes.
But above all, the employers rejected the wage agreement with the unions that the Government requested over and over again. Both Pedro Sánchez and Yolanda Díaz have insisted on dozens of occasions, each time with a harsher tone, asking the employers to agree with the unions for a salary increase. The Government failed in its attempt to promote an income pact, and the meetings that were held to seek it did not bear fruit.
When all seemed lost, the unions have increased their threats of mobilizations and strikes, and the employers have finally decided to close an agreement before risking a few months of conflict that could harm the good progress of the companies, which are achieving record profits in many sectors. Obviously, the employers have agreed with their interests in mind, and not those of the Executive, but indirectly they have given them a very valuable political gift in the middle of the campaign of the regional and municipal governments, where the Government wants to focus everything on economic recovery and the PP in an open field battle to “repeal the sanchismo”.
For the Government, the agreement and the social peace that it implies is a great balm in the middle of the electoral campaign. In fact, the question of social peace is one of the fundamental issues in Sánchez’s speeches, who does not stop explaining that with his government very important reforms such as labor or pensions are being achieved with agreements, without adjustments and without people On the street like in France. From Alicante, the President of the Government has been euphoric. “Why is there more social peace in Spain than in most of the EU countries? Because there is a government that has recovered social dialogue. Thanks to the labor reform and the commitment of unions and businessmen, we are living through a legislature of reforms and social peace. Every month there is good employment data and bad news for the right. Spain advances, the right rages ”, he insisted. “Trade unions and employers’ organizations are once again at the level of our country,” the second vice president, Yolanda Díaz, summarized on twitter. Meanwhile, the leader of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, supported the agreement, but tried to completely distance the Government from it, to try not to take any revenue. “Despite the negligence of the Government that renounced an income agreement, employers and unions have acted responsibly,” he pointed out.
The Executive has not been in the negotiation, and this is probably essential for it to have been signed, because Garamendi would have had much more political pressure if he needed to sign the pact with Sánchez, but he was obviously informed and encouraged him from behind. It is not, therefore, a merit of the Government, but an agreement between the social agents, but it has clear political consequences and undoubtedly benefits the speech of the Executive in the campaign and harms that of the PP, which insists on proposing a scenario of great economic chaos incompatible with a pact like this.
The Government is euphoric about a long-awaited agreement. This pact closes the circle in a week in which historical employment data has been recorded, with 20.6 million affiliates to social security. The Executive believes that the progress of the economy, which will be even better when summer arrives and a tourist season that promises to be historic, has completely deactivated the strategy of the PP, which planned to come to power as in 2011, with a collapse of the economy. And this is the campaign that they have designed from the Government: to vindicate their management, the economic achievements and the social peace that has dominated the legislature. And in this context, the wage agreement comes at the best possible time for the PSOE and Unidas Podemos, who are risking all their regional and local power in three weeks and with it the possibility or not of maintaining a majority after the general elections at the end of year.
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