The unions demand that the CEOE return to the salary negotiation table: “If there is no agreement, the conflict will grow” | Economy

The negotiation between unions and employers remains stuck. After the visit this week of the president of the CEOE, Antonio Garamendi, and the general secretaries of the UGT, Pepe Álvarez, and CC OO, Unai Sordo, at the seminar organized by the Association of Economic Information Journalists (APIE) at the University Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (UIMP) has made it clear that the agreement on salary revaluation is further away than ever. The point of disagreement is the salary guarantee clause, a key factor for the unions and a mistake for the employers because they believe that it would make high inflation chronic.

“It would be reasonable for us to sit down with the employers to reach an agreement regarding wages. If there is no agreement, the conflict will grow. There is no possibility that we will sign the agreements downwards. The conflict is served if we are not able to find that framework of agreement in the short term”, Álvarez assured this Tuesday in Santander. Sordo, for his part, has seconded these words and has separated these conversations from the political cycle. “The wage pact is an autonomous dynamic of the political evolution that the country may lead. the last elections [las autonómicas de Castilla y León y de Andalucía] they do not mark whether or not there is a political change. What has occurred is a reconfiguration of the center-right and reinforces the way of understanding politics within the PP against the extreme right that Vox symbolizes”, he responded to questions from journalists.

Despite the fact that it seems evident that the political context influences the negotiations of the social agents, Álvarez and Sordo maintain that the roadmap of the talks must be kept intact even if the Government begins to move pieces – this Saturday it has convened a Council of Ministers extraordinary to approve the anti-crisis measures after the Andalusian fiasco—and the PP feels stronger. “[Las negociaciones] they must move with their own criteria and that cannot be the political situation. If not, it is very difficult to reach agreements”, Álvarez has criticized. Another factor must be added to this cocktail: the employers’ association is on the verge of internal elections, next fall, another possible brake on any transfer.

As explained in Santander by the workers’ representatives, the unions’ proposal was a salary increase of 3.5% this year, 2.5% in 2023 and 2% in 2024, with a salary review at the end of each exercise to avoid passing on those costs (although it would be done over the following year). A proposal that, as Garamendi assured a day earlier in the same room, the companies were willing to assume if the wage guarantee clause was removed from the equation. This, what it does, is to compensate at the end of the year if the increase in the CPI has been higher and equalizes it so that there is no loss of purchasing power.

“We have not proposed that today wages rise by 9% or underlying inflation. We have made a proposal for wage increases this year and the next and that wage review clauses operate that do not cause second-round inflation”, Sordo detailed. A dead end, since the president of the employer’s association is completely closed to this possibility because he believes that it would make structural increases that should be circumstantial.

hot autumn

In this context, autumn is hotter than ever. The unions are willing to press however they can and the protests will not stop. At the moment, in fact, the metal strike has been calling for an improvement in wages for days. It will be one of many that will be added, according to Álvarez and Sordo. In addition, inflation does not seem to give a truce and will pour even more gasoline on the conflict. “Wage earners cannot be the only payers of this situation”, added the leader of CC OO.

The representatives of the workers have also been in favor of the possible surcharge of corporate tax on electricity companies. “If that rate is 10 percentage points, that seems fine to me. It will not be an abusive rate, quite the opposite, I think it will fall short. We are not talking about legitimate benefits, but about usury. The electricity companies are robbing the citizens”, emphasized the general secretary of the UGT.

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