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The Government faces a tough negotiation on the labor reform with little room for maneuver

  • The Executive hopes to dissipate with minor changes the doubts raised by the agreement reached with employers and unions

  • He believes that the positions that the partners now express are of departure and advises that the alternative is to return to the 2012 regulations

The Government has barely been able to savor the success of its agreement on the labor reform sealed with employers and unions on Christmas Eve. His partners in the legislature quickly warned that his support was not guaranteed. The PP anticipated that it will not support the royal decree law. The numbers, therefore, would not go to the bipartisan PSOE and United We Can. Better said: would not come out today. Because the Executive expects that within a month, when the full Congress has to vote to validate the measure, the starting positions of the groups have evolved, and give their support in exchange, if anything, for changes less than do not detract from the agreement with employers and workers, an achievement never achieved in 40 years of democracy. While the Government conveys the message that the alternative is to return to the current labor market reform, the one approved by the PP without consensus in 2012, and that this is a matter core of the legislature , which is much at stake.

This Tuesday, December 28, the Council of Ministers – the last of this year, in principle – will approve the real Decree Law on Labor Reform , in time for it to enter into force before December 31, as promised with Brussels. It is, as they defend in the team of the Second Vice President and Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, who has carried the weight of the dialogue with employers and unions in these nine months of talks, of “ a paradigm shift , a historic reform that for the first time recovers workers' rights “and seeks to tackle temporality, one of the endemic evils of the market of work in Spain, which according to the latest Labor Force Survey reached 26.02% in the third quarter of 2021.

As of the publication in the BOE, the Executive will have 30 business days to negotiate with the parliamentary groups. It will not be easy, because the balance achieved with the social agents walks along a thin and fragile line. “ The agreement is not touched . Parliament has the legitimacy to approve or not, but then it will not be our agreement, it will be something else, “the president of the CEOE, Antonio Garamendi, warned this Monday in RNE. That is, the employer's association, which has already suffered internal tears for giving its majority approval of the decree law – Foment del Treball, CEIM, Anfac and Asaja abstained – threatens to break the agreement if there are changes in Congress.

The members of the Executive, however, want that. Modifications. The PNV only finds “a stumbling block” to support an agreement that it “values ​​and respects”, but it is a “big” obstacle: it wants the text to reflect the prevalence of regional agreements, to safeguard and he Basque framework of labor relations. Bildu shares this claim but it is much harsher: she feels “tremendously disappointed”, in the words of Arnaldo Otegi. He speaks of a “bad agreement” and warns that “in no case” will he support the reform as it is written. ERC converges with the Basque sovereignists: finds “ very important deficiencies “that make your favorable vote” today is not guaranteed. “There is room for improvement in processing salaries, compensation [por despido], the role of the Administration in dismissals of companies that have received aid and the prevalence of regional collective agreements,” republican sources tell this newspaper.

Garamendi: “What is agreed is not touched”

“Very offensive”

Socialists and purples coincide in defending the consensus reached. The spokesman for the PSOE executive, Felipe Sicilia, asked this Monday the members of the Executive and the rest of the groups to respect “ as much as possible “the reform agreed with the social agents, because it is the result of nine months of intense work. That they “listen to them”, he told the parties, and “as far as possible it is possible to maintain what they have signed “. Sicilia expressed the thesis already expressed by the Socialist parliamentary spokesman, Héctor Gómez, to this newspaper in an interview published last Friday. United We Can, Pablo Echenique advanced on TVE, is already undertaking a round of contacts with partners to support the decree law.

In Yolanda Díaz's environment they maintain, in fact, that they will go “ very on the offensive “, explaining to the groups the benefits of the text. Moreover, they emphasize that in these months they have kept the partners up to date on the content of the negotiations, on their limits. “We are convinced that we will convince them,” they point out. The purple ones remember that aspects such as the cost of dismissal have not been the subject of debate with the social agents because it was left out of the coalition program with the PSOE [aquí en PDF]. The same occurs with regional agreements: they insist, the “confusing” wording of article 84 of the Workers' Statute is not touched. Garamendi warned that he would not admit the prevalence of regional agreements, because it would break “market unity.”

Díaz herself, like the Minister of Inclusion, José Luis Escrivá, was optimistic this Monday about the reform's becoming a parliamentarian. She herself valued the consensus, the first long-term agreement with all social agents since 1980, and issued the warning that knocking her down would be returning to 2012, to the unilateral decree of the PP. “ It is very difficult to say no to this rule . We have been working with the agents since March 17 We have had many meetings with the political forces. Now the final debate is open and we have to let the political forces do their job. Failure to validate would mean that the company agreement continues to prevail or that they remain without ultra-activity, as demanded by the workers of Cádiz, “he said in 'La brújula', on Onda Cero, this Monday night. The crucial procedure is that of validation: the Congress gives its endorsement of the decree or not, and then it can accept to process it as a bill, which would allow amendments to be introduced in both Houses.

Another actor at stake (theoretical) is Citizens . The oranges believe that United We can have taken on some of the proposals that they themselves signed with the PSOE in 2016, which the purple ones then rejected, according to their spokesman in Congress, Edmundo Bal. The liberals celebrate the agreement with the social agents, they acknowledge that there are proposals that they like (such as reducing the number of contracts, penalizing employers who abuse the temporality or the consolidation of ertes), but they disagree on other points such as the return to ultra-activity or the rebalancing in favor of sectorial agreements over company agreements. For now, PSOE and UP do not fix their attention on Cs, because “ even if he gave his votes for free ” , it would withdraw the rest of the groups. And the nine votes of Inés Arrimadas, by themselves, are not enough, they add.

PSOE asks its partners to support the labor reform

— Europe Press TV (@europapress_tv) December 27, 2021

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In the leadership of the PSOE and in Labor rec reaches that the members of the legislature now express “ starting positions “, of maximums, but that later they will dilute when the negotiation becomes discreet. It happened with the law riders , point out the purple ones: there was a lot of parliamentary opposition and in the end it was approved in a month and without amendments. Now it would be inexplicable, they argue, not to validate an unprecedented agreement with employers and unions. A month ahead. An eternity in politics. They say it in Moncloa: “ That is not today's problem “.

Another difficult validation: the masks decree

The Council of Ministers approved the last Thursday the royal decree law that reimposed the mask abroad. Another text that raises doubts, when not rejected, among the groups. The Executive is not guaranteed its validation either. The socialist spokesman in Congress, Héctor Gómez, already affirmed in an interview in this newspaper that he did not rule out that there were changes in the procedure. From the top of their party in the Lower House they point out that before the vote is taken, the Executive may be forced to order more rules to stop the unstoppable rise of infections given the expansion of the omicron variant. In that case, it would be the Government that would want to introduce amendments, or the one that may not be interested in the validation if, on the contrary, the wave has slowed and it is possible to reverse the mandatory nature of the mask on the street.

When will the House vote? Sources of the socialist leadership point out that has not been decided , but the full validation of the decree of masks and that of labor reform could be set for the end of January, in an extraordinary session. Actually, their honorable Members could be summoned at the beginning of February (the 30 days that the Executive has to obtain the endorsement of the Chamber are working, a little more than a calendar month), but the intention, for now, is separate the vote from the start of the campaign of the regional elections of Castilla y León of 13-F, on January 28. The week before the elections, as is always the case when there is an electoral call, there is no plenary session in Congress.

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