The government's negotiations with the social partners begin
The left-wing government of Spain today started negotiations with the social partners to reduce working hours from 40 to 37.5 hours per week, despite the reservations expressed by employers' organizations.
The measure, provided for in the government agreement sealed in late October by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's Socialist Party and the radical left Sumar formation, affects about 12 million workers, according to the government.
“Reducing working time does not only mean that we work less, but also that we work better,” Labor Minister Yolanda Diath, who is also the head of Sumar, underlined on social media X before the start of the discussions .
Reducir la jornada laborar sin reducción salariat es cumplir con el accordo de gobierno y con las personas trabajadoras
Today begins the dialogue table to gain time for life and work better. Seguimos avanzando. pic.twitter.com/ky1z1Rqk9a
— Yolanda Díaz (@Yolanda_Diaz_) January 25, 2024
Spaniards “deserve a working pace that leaves them time to live”, added Diath, recalling that the legal length of working time has not changed in Spain for “40 years”, despite the increase in the productivity of of workers, which has been recorded.
The plan that has been put on the negotiation “table” by the government specifically provides for the reduction of working hours in two phases, to 38.5 hours per week in 2024 and to 37, 5hoursin 2025. This must be done without loss of pay, according to the government.
The government's plan has been welcomed by the two biggest trade unions, the UGT and the Workers' Committees (CCOO), but is raising concerns among employers, who are concerned about its economic viability in certain industries.
“Not all sectors are the same”, underlined during an economic meeting at the beginning of the week the president of the confederation CEOE, Antonio Garamedi, estimating that the discussions should be done “per sector”.
The official of a larger employer organization criticized, moreover, the lack of room for maneuver, which has been left to the social partners during the discussions. “If you go into negotiations whose outcome is already known, where is the social dialogue?” she wondered.
In recent weeks, Yolanda Diath has said she wants a tripartite deal that includes unions and employers' organizations, but has not ruled out negotiating with unions alone if CEOE opposes it. , as it had done in mid-January to raise the minimum wage.
For the draft law to pass, the government will also have to overcome the reservations of many of its regional allies, such as the Basic Nationalist Party ( PNV) and the Catalan separatists of Junts per Catalunya (JxCat), who are close to the business world.