Royal Decree-Law 32/2021.  A reform that does not meet its objectives

10 days ago It was published in the Official State Gazette the royal decree-law of urgent measures for labor reform, the guarantee of job stability and the transformation of the labor market. Flamboyant title for your content, Little or much depends on who judges it, which is certainly not very congruent with the name that covers it.

The royal decree-law contains the agreement reached by the Government with the social agents to fulfill its commitment to Europe in relation to the Spanish labor framework, to which supposed to be guilty of our differences in employment with the countries around us. We continue with double unemployment than the European average, our youth unemployment is also double and temporary employment reaches levels much higher than those of the OECD countries.

The European Commission, in the field of application of the reconstruction mechanism, requires Spain to put order in our labor framework to alleviate the structural problem that has been with us for a long time and that began to be straightened out after the 2012 reform. Europe demands more flexibility to be more resilientIn other words, more capable of adapting to circumstances without destroying jobs or, to put it positively, being able to take advantage of good times to create stable and quality employment; Europe demands solve the employability problem of our workers to alleviate very high levels of youth unemployment and the great problem of long-term unemployment; Finally, Europe demands that, as the change required, a structural reform with a long-term temporary impact be carried out with the widest possible consensus.

The Popular Party, by mouth of its president, has stated from the outset that we could not be participants in the result which is embodied in the standard that gives title to these reflections. And we cannot participate for several reasons that I will try to present in an orderly manner.

First of all, because what has been done does not solve any of the structural problems those who were said to want to attend, except, if anything, that of give more prevalence to class unions, which in any case is not a problem of our work framework but of themselves. Spain is a country of small and medium-sized companies that, to prosper, they need the ability to adapt to circumstances in a rapidly changing world driven by new technologies and in which unions should play a different role than they did in the 20th century. The way to provide security to workers had to have been another, not a return to past times. The use and abuse of the term ‘modernization’ to describe what is a setback is curious.

Second, because the temporary employment treatmentInstead of going to the core of the problem, to analyze the real causes for which it occurs in Spain, the vice president is dedicated, in the best style of the head of the portfolio Diaz, to prohibit, to sanction, to regulate ‘objectively’ when the reasons should be addressed that provoke the different hires and give them reasonable answers. As our businessmen in the countryside say so many times, who do not raise their heads with this Government, temporary employment is not necessarily precarious or of poor quality, but rather obeys the specific needs of the activity. Increasing the costs of companies that legitimately need temporary employment only leads to destroy your competitiveness and, in the long run, reduce their hiring. In short, a measure that preaches protecting workers leaves the most vulnerable, those in need of a job, unprotected.

Photo: The Minister of Labor and Social Economy, Yolanda Díaz.  (EFE / Laura Serrano)

From the Popular Party we have been repeatedly demanding that the opportunity of the reconstruction mechanism be taken advantage of to finance the implementation of a tool to eliminate differences among workers subject to different employment contracts, such as the so-called Austrian backpack. System that has claimed by different institutions Among which is the Bank of Spain, since its intervention in the Reconstruction Commission in the Congress of Deputies, with little success.

By last, the consensus demanded by Europe has been very limited. It is true that work has been done with the social agents to reach an unsatisfactory agreement from a starting document of the ministry’s maximums, which is harmful to many companies and reduces the flexibility of the system. But, also, that the objective was not to reach an ‘agreement’ but that the agreement was good, not the least bad as some have said, in line with what our working market to comply with what Europe demanded, in accordance with its repeated biannual recommendations.

On the other hand, it is clear that the Government repeatedly avoids reach agreements that are uncomfortable for you, such as those offered by the Popular Party, the main opposition and alternative party. And that lack of negotiation cannot be made up for with the successive appeals to what is not really known, because the Thelma and Louise model is only in a particular movie and we are not going to contribute to the fall of Spain; adhesion contracts are no longer customary because, in general, there is freedom of choice, but this is what seems to be insistently demanded of us.

Photo: Antonio Garamendi talks with Yolanda Díaz (EFE / JJ Guillén)
Diaz’s reasons for not altering the labor pact: to “take care” of Garamendi to the SMI

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In short, the standard does not meet its objective of solving the labor market problems; what it reforms it does by reducing flexibility to companies and capacity for resilience and adaptability; regulation of temporary employment is only prohibitive and punitive without any positive input and a golden opportunity has been lost to solve and modernize one of the main structural problems that Spain has, and that is why we are not going to support it in any way.

PS And taking advantage of the convenient way of legislating chosen, in one of the additional provisions, the fifth, in the interests of a more efficient execution of the recovery plan, the basic rules for hiring staff in the public sector, no matter how much they appeal to the fact that the constitutional principles of equality, merit and capacity and the law for the reduction of temporary employment in public employment must be complied with in these “fixed-term” contracts. And they go radically against what is required in the text itself for the private sector. Everything, as I said at the beginning, very congruent.

*Elvira Rodriguez, Vice-secretary of Sectorial of the PP.

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