The labor agree­ment has sur­prised some.

Spain: Entrepreneurs More Generous Than Government

Labor Demostration in Spain.
Labor Demostration in Spain.

Fernando González Urbaneja | Employers and unions have reached an in­come po­licy agree­ment on their own which is cohe­rent with the pre­vious ones signed du­ring the last de­ca­des. There is no break in the so­cial pact po­licy that ac­com­pa­nied Spanish de­mo­cracy for de­ca­des. The agree­ment (a sa­lary in­crease of 4% in 2023 and 3% in 2024) is in­di­ca­tive, a re­com­men­da­tion for de­cen­tra­lized co­llec­tive bar­gai­ning, thou­sands of sec­tor, pro­vince, com­pany agree­ments…

... that each year occupy what we call social agents , trade union and employer representatives of all types and conditions.

Without an indicative national agreement, effective social negotiation in companies and sectors does not stop, but a national agreement of this type helps the negotiation by providing a frame of reference. In addition, the social agreement sends a signal to the citizens of serenity, that people can understand each other if they dialogue and know how to listen, give a little and meet the other side halfway. The agreement has surprised some, especially those who do not know the history of labour relations and the strength of the agreement as an alternative to conflict. It is one thing to speak in front of a microphone and another to sit down at the workplace every morning to carry out the task.

In the absence of knowing all the details of the recommendations document that the union and employer representatives will sign this week, what is substantially clear is that each party has given in their approaches to seek a common denomination. Regarding salaries, which is always a central issue in this negotiation, the agreement establishes a three-year path (2023-25) with slightly more generous salary increases than those set by the government for civil servants without union protest. The employers have accepted the partial update (up to one point) of the salary tables if inflation runs above the agreed salary increase. It is not the indication claimed by the unions, although it looks like it.

Some lament that the negotiation has not incorporated more modern and decisive concepts such as productivity or participation in the distribution of profits (and, where appropriate, losses). There are company agreements that contemplate these factors and that enjoy a good reputation among the signatories, which suggests that, sooner or later, these aspects will enter into collective bargaining. It is not easy, but the road is made by walking and at this moment it seems that the employers and unions are walking.

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