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Spanish labour minister, trade unions urge employers to protest wage increase deal

Labour Minister Yolanda D?az and Spain’s two main trade unions, UGT and CC.OO have again urged the country’s largest employers’ association, CEOE, on Monday to find agreement on a wage increase else they will call for nationwide strikes.

On Labour Day, thousands of people joined in the more than 70 demonstrations organised by Uni?n General de Trabajadores (UGT) and Comisiones Obreras (CC.OO) in Madrid and other big cities.

“We need decent wages that grow in line with inflation (4.1% in April), guaranteeing purchasing power. For this, the wage guarantee clause (cl?usula de revisi?n salarial) is essential,” the joint manifesto of UGT and CC.OO that was published Monday reads.

If no wage agreement is reached by the end of the month, the two unions said they would call for strikes, particularly in sectors where employers block wage negotiations.

“Either there is an agreement on wages, or the unions will start to organise, not call, days of mobilisation in autumn”, said Pepe ?lvarez, Secretary General of UGT, while CC.OO head Unai Sordo confirmed that his union would increase pressure if employers do not negotiate.

“They (employers) have an opportunity, if they want to, to negotiate an agreement that allows us to move forward together. If not, mobilisation is assured”, ?lvarez also warned.

In January, the two unions proposed a wage increase of up to 4.5 % in 2023 and 3.75 % in 2024 and called for them to be linked to company profits. The CEOE has so far declined to negotiate.

On the side of the government, Labour Minister Yolanda D?az (Unidas Podemos/EU Left) urged the CEOE to reach an agreement before the end of the month.

The minister and candidate for prime minister with her new left-wing party Sumar, also stressed that the time had come to reduce working hours without reducing wages.

The official minimum wage in Spain, recently revised upwards by the government, stands at EUR 1,080 gross per month in 14 payments, and now amounts to EUR 15,120 gross per year.

At the same time, in terms of purchasing power, workers in Spain have lost the equivalent of 11 days of work, according to a special survey published by the Spanish branch of Oxfam on Labour Day, noting that while “real wages” fell by 3.2% worldwide in 2022, they dropped 5.5% in Spain.

At the same time, profits of listed companies in the Spanish stock market (IBEX-35) rose sharply to almost EUR 26 billion, 26.8% more compared with 2021, Oxfam added.

The main reason for this loss of purchasing power is that wages in Spain have increased less compared with the rest of the major international economies, causing workers to lose an average of EUR 1,523 of purchasing power in 2022.

Spain will hold regional and municipal elections on 28 May, with a general election expected to take place in December, during the country’s final month of presidency of the EU Council.

(Fernando Heller EuroEFE.EURACTIV.es)

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