Government and unions believe that the lack of labor is due to low wages and not to a “big resignation” | Economy

An operator works on the construction of a building in Madrid.
An operator works on the construction of a building in Madrid.Eduardo Parra (Europa Press)

Both the Ministry of Labor and the unions, meeting this Monday to try to find the causes behind the difficulties of many Spanish (and European) companies to find labor, have concluded that behind these 109,000 vacancies that the labor market currently presents hide the poor working conditions and wages that are concentrated in very specific sectors of the economy, such as construction or hospitality. And to try to remedy it, they have been summoned in two weeks so that, in this new meeting, both the union organizations (UGT and CC OO), and the employers’ organizations (CEOE and Cepyme), —who have not made statements after the meeting —, submit detailed reports obtained from their sectoral representations with which to eliminate these impediments in the short term.

“This is a very localized phenomenon in certain sectors and territories”, Joaquín Pérez Rey, Secretary of State for Employment, indicated after the meeting, denying that this absence of labor is related to the phenomenon of massive abandonment of jobs that occurred in the United States during the pandemic, and that was baptized as the Great Resignation. “What is happening in Spain is a lack of adaptation of working conditions that means that certain jobs are not filled”, Pérez Rey has abounded.

Construction, hospitality, transport and the primary sector concentrate these 109,000 vacancies ―which represent only 0.7% of the market, far from the 2.5% registered in the European Union―, due to their activities unattractive conditions for potential workers. Given the proximity of the summer campaign, the hotelier is one of the sectors that faces a more compromised situation. Suffice it as an example that the human resources company Randstad has announced this Monday that it has 1,000 vacancies for the coming months.

Mariano Hoya, deputy general secretary for trade union policy UGT, has specified, for his part, that it is especially in Madrid, Catalonia, the Valencian Community and Andalusia where the greatest difficulties are focused in filling the places required in these sectors.

“As soon as the conditions offered are improved, there will be no need for labor in these sectors,” Hoya said. “We all have to make an effort to improve salaries. This is what we intended with the Agreement for Employment and Collective Bargaining (AENC), which unfortunately has stalled”, he concluded. After their last meeting, unions and employers agreed to continue negotiating it later, so if a hypothetical agreement is finalized, it would have no effect on 2022.

“Beyond trying to find a solution to this problem, we have to look to the future,” claimed Mari Cruz Vicente, confederal secretary of CC OO Trade Union Action. “We must have what happened in the US as a reference, because it gives us clues as to where the situation may go. In many cases there is constant non-compliance with collective agreements, and companies have to commit to negotiating them”, she added.

He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.



Despite the fact that 3,174,700 people are unemployed in Spain, according to the National Institute of Statistics, the business sector has been warning that it is encountering serious difficulties in filling many of its positions. Especially those that require technical and digital knowledge. “If this problem is not addressed, a good part of the productive fabric will be lost, especially in unpopulated areas, and the productivity of companies will drop,” Gerardo Cuerva, president of Cepyme, recently warned.

The problem behind these vacancies is the lack of training for many workers, both those who are already part of the company and those who are unemployed. “Between 2015 and 2021, companies stopped investing more than 2,600 million euros in training,” Vicente denounced. In the Council of Ministers last Tuesday, the Government approved the distribution of 1,239 million euros for vocational training, the creation of 88,000 vocational training places and the accreditation of skills for 785,000 workers without qualifications.

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