There is one month left for the Spaniards to go to the polls to cast their vote for the general elections, however, the different political parties have already begun to advance some of their star measures in the economic field. Before the traditional rallies begin, the main political leaders take advantage of the interventions at events, breakfasts and awards to outline the main lines of their programs. Or they even explore new formats, such as the PSOE, which has started a round of ‘interviews’ between the Prime Minister and some of his ministers to “explain” to the public what they have done and what remains to be done in the next four years, according to Pedro Sánchez.
In the first of these conversations, the head of the Executive and the Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations reviewed the “achievements” of the legislature in terms of employment. Both focused on the labor reform, the pension reform and the increases in the Minimum Interprofessional Wage (SMI), without mentioning the person in charge of Labor and Social Economy. But they did take the opportunity to knock down one of the main proposals of Sumar: the reduction of the working day. The ministers of the socialist wing of the Government valued that these changes must be placed at the collective bargaining tables, that is, that they must be discussed between the representatives of the workers and the employers and not be regulated by law.
“We have very long and very rigid (work) hours in Spain. We have seen how in the countries around us they have been able, again in most cases with collective bargaining and with tax and positive incentives from the public sector, to travel a path towards more flexible working hours, potentially even shorter ones”, reflected José Luis Escrivá. “What you are proposing… is that this debate… we must be consistent with the labor reform and situate it in the collective bargaining between the social agents“, replied Sánchez. “Undoubtedly”, sentenced the person in charge of Social Security, who once again placed the role of the public in introducing tax incentives “that have already proven effective and very decisive in other countries”, assured the minister.
Díaz promises a 32-hour day by 2032
The second vice president of the Government promised last Friday to regulate a reduction in working time to 37.5 hours, to later promote a new norm that would cut the working day to 32 hours a week. This Friday he made the official proposal through his Twitter profile and placed the first reduction in 2024. Yolanda Díaz has spent months, and even years, defending that it is necessary to change the logic of the SXX that guides current labor relations and of which the The main example is the 40-hour “centennial” day. For this purpose, it has been marked as a great challenge to develop a new Workers’ Statute, from which it wants to promote the debate on working time and leisure time, given that the minister considers that this is the topic of the next decade.
Sánchez and Escrivá share this analysis, they believe that it is necessary to introduce changes in the labor market paradigm, but they disagree on the forms. “In the same way that we were very far from the European reference in precariousness, we are also (…) in terms of quality of labor relations”, recognized the Minister of Social Security, for whom productivity must be the focus of the next legislature. “40 years ago Germany had the same annual hours worked that we have today and it was not more productive than Spain is now, not even remotely. Since then, Germany has reduced 300 hours, from 1,650 to 1,350 and in Germany has not changed the law, there are also 40 hours a week, everything has been through collective bargaining, sector work.
The Minister of Labor has directly involved the social agents -CEOE, Cepyme, CCOO and UGT- in the drafting of the labor measures carried out within her cabinet, from the labor reform to the rider law or the teleworking law . This Thursday he has once again claimed that he prefers “a great agreement to a great victory”, although he understands that the role of the Government must be more active in this matter and not be reduced to encouraging the social negotiators, as the negotiation of the Agreement demanded. for Employment and Collective Bargaining (AENC), the framework agreement for the next three years, in which the parties did not agree on any progress for the reduction of working hours.
Work pending tasks are passed to the Sumar program
One of the pieces of this change of focus was the Law on the Use of Time and Rationalization of Hours, which remains in the pipeline due to the early call for general elections, in which Díaz not only sought to reconsider the reduction of the working day, but also promote for workers to have Greater decision-making capacity when establishing their work schedules. As explained by the number two of the Ministry in statements to the media, the goal was to ensure that the working day was not a variable that the employer set unilaterally, but that the workers had the opportunity to negotiate to adapt it to their personal situation.
This normative project was precisely the one that led the Ministry of Labor to commission a group of 30 experts to produce a multidisciplinary report that addressed the economic consequences -in terms of productivity and performance-, for health and the social consequences of the current rhythms of work and the potential benefits of modifying them. The study concluded that guarantee the rest of the workers could add between one and two points to the Spanish Gross Domestic Product (GDP), for which reason the minister maintained that the working days should end at 6:00 p.m. Currently, 30% of active people work after seven in the afternoon and 10% after ten at night, according to the data provided by the report.