European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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20 November 2018

Spain: land slide reform can lead to revision of austerity measures

The coalition parties in Spain’s minority government agreed on a partnership that paves the way for a 2019 draft budget and socially oriented measures that could bring a reversal of reforms stemming from austerity. However, the success of the socially progressive budget depends on achieving uncertain support from Brussels and from opposition parties in the Senate. The plans could lead to a substantial wage increase.

The government has confirmed its intention to revise a substantial part of the austerity measures in a socially progressive 2019 budget plan. The proposals promise a spectacular repair of the wage decreases during the period of austerity. The cornerstone of the new partnership in the minority government is a package with socially oriented measures such as raising the minimum wage by 22%, the biggest increase in 40 years. The plans also foresee an improvement of paternity leave. However, the 2019 draft budget has to pass both the parliament and the Senate, while approval at EU-level is also uncertain.

The minority government had already in its first policy address set the tone for labour and employment priorities through the remainder of the legislative session ending in 2020. It had promised at the start a substantial wage growth, an enhanced fight against exploitation, support for active labour market policies, a narrowing of the wage gap, and improved introduction of young people into the labour market. The aim was to reverse changes made by the preceding conservative governments.

The starting point will be a review by the social partners of key measures of the 2012 labour law reforms, such as the re-establishment of sectoral collective agreements taking precedence over company agreements. In addition, the indefinite extension of expiring collective agreements will be reinstalled, instead of the current 12-month extension. Another important plan is the application of the equal pay for equal work principle in cases of outsourcing or sub-contracting, with the aim of tackling regime-shopping. Workers that carry out the same work as directly employed workers will benefit from the same basic working and employment conditions as those directly employed in the user undertaking. The user undertaking is liable for monitoring issues such as pay, working time, hiring conditions, social security obligations and work-life balance measures (such as paid leave for both parents). Moreover, next to the increase of the minimum salary from €735 to €900, and improved leave, the government has planned to table measures that decrease the gender pay gap.  

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