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The Government proposes to give more weight to the autonomous agreements compared to the state ones

The third vice president and head of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, in a meeting with Pepe Álvarez, from UGT , Unai Sordo, from CC OO, Antonio Garamendi, from CEOE, and Gerardo Cuerva, from CEPYME. Jaime Villanueva

The Government proposes that the labor reform strengthen the regional collective bargaining agreement compared to that at the state level, a common claim of the nationalist political parties and that it will find the firm opposition of the CEOE employer in the final stage of the negotiations to close a new labor regulation.

In the current legislation, collective bargaining is centralized, reinforcing the state agreement with respect to lower levels. It can command and limit what is traded downstream. Also in the scope of the autonomous community. However, the document currently being handled by the Executive undoes that framework. It eliminates the possibility that the state agreement may condition the autonomous community in matters as important as salary or hours. On the other hand, less substantial points are left out of the regional agreement and that were already excluded, such as the trial period, the hiring modalities, the professional classification, the disciplinary regime or the prevention of occupational risks.

The Ministry of Labor does not confirm this information and indicates that it is a matter that has not been closed and that it has not been addressed at the social dialogue table .

This new approach could overturn the current structure of collective bargaining and assumes that a company that is implemented by the entire territory may have different working conditions depending on the community. In autonomous regions such as the Basque Country or Catalonia, where there is a clear interest in promoting their own unions and employers, its use could be generalized. The political implications of this reform are very relevant. And nationalist parties such as the PNV or ERC could argue that they only support labor reform in Congress if the regional agreements are relaunched. Their votes could be decisive for the approval of the reform.

However, many large companies and sectorial employers believe that this would end in an unsustainable situation. Economic theory says that the most successful collective bargaining systems must be either centralized at the state level, as is the model in the Nordic countries, or situated at the company level, as is the case in Eastern European countries.

The former have the advantage that an economy can be directed from that command post. A hackneyed example is the national wage moderation agreement that was signed in 2011 in Spain and is credited with helping to reduce the intense job losses resulting from that crisis. The latter provide a lot of flexibility for companies to adapt to their particular circumstances. What is never considered optimal is a scheme like that of Spain, where several intermediate regional levels overlap. Organizations such as the OECD or the IMF have criticized this structure. Currently, half of the contracts are provincial sectorial, a level that according to economists can erode market unity. In a small local nucleus there may be very different conditions than in others that are very close. It may even be the case that a company dominates the provincial agreement and sets conditions that prevent the entry of competitors. Or that a company has to comply with up to a dozen provincial agreements.

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If this change occurs and if it is combined with the limitations that arise from the company agreement , the resulting drawing would not be to the liking of companies. A consulted jurist explains that it would be a great contradiction to strengthen the regional agreement when it is wanted at the same time to limit the negotiation of the company. “It would leave the company with little margin,” he says. “Accepting the regional agreements while maintaining the provincial ones is to twist the loop of inefficiency,” says an expert in collective bargaining. On the other hand, another analyst points out that this modification could be positive if it ends up encouraging the regional government over the provincial one.

Autonomous collective agreements are They have left for the last stretch of the negotiation of the labor reform. At the moment, the change is included in the last proposed text of Article 84, but it has not been formally touched on the negotiating table, explains a source from the social dialogue. Workers' Commissions could show itself in favor of strengthening the regional agreement to recognize the plurinational reality.

This Wednesday the CEOE executive committee, which includes all the presidents of business organizations. It will serve for the president, Antonio Garamendi, to take the pulse of the sectors that are most against the reform.

Unions and employers asked this Tuesday that the Government present a paper where it could specify positions in order to move forward. According to social dialogue sources, there are still problems in subcontracting, especially when there are contractors to carry out various activities; temporarily, because the 90-day contract does not satisfy either party; in internal flexibility, and in the limitation of the company agreement.

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