The call for a general strike is largely justified by the abrupt move made by the Spanish Government to face the crisis. Tax stimulation and social protection policies were put aside in early 2010 precisely when we were starting to benefit from them. There were shy signals of economic recovery, an increase in business confidence and a change in the trend of job destruction. The Spanish Government’s options advocate the dismantling of a social model based on guaranteeing labour and social rights and their public provision. Other essential and urgent reforms that unions have been claiming for have been forgotten, such as fiscal, financial, educational and energy and research-related reforms, among others. It is evident that the chosen crisis exit strategy is consolidating the structural weaknesses that drove us to where we are now.
The labour market reform has been the trigger for calling a general strike. Its contents are useless and unfair. It does not create employment. It facilitates job destruction, increases temporality and insecurity, breaks the equilibrium between employers and employees, weakens collective negotiation, generates larger uncertainties for workers and opens routes for labour exclusion in some groups of people. The reform distances us from Europe in matters of labour rights. It is based on the logic of low labour costs and job insecurity. What we need is stability and security, recognition of professional qualifications, constant recycling and updating and innovation and research regarding both products and procedures. We also need to agree on internal flexibility in order to prepare labour organisations and conditions for the changes to come.
The reform focuses on facilitating dismissals and making them cheaper. The legal formula of future loss prediction as a cause to fire employees that will cost employers 12 days per year worked will enable discretional acts. It will also leave the employee with some levels of uncertainty in finding the motivation and implication that a modern business requires and establishing stable links with its staff to facilitate innovation.
However, the reform allows for the increase of the employer’s unilateral power, enabling them to ignore the concept of collective convention, regarding both retributions as well as changing working conditions. These dynamics will be a constant source of conflict within the company. They can be overcome by recuperating the equilibrium guaranteed by collective negotiation and the agreements regarding awareness, information and participation that are need by employee representatives to agree on necessary flexibility.
Finally, the reform opens the way for labour exclusion for groups of people with higher difficulties of being hired. It does not prioritise improving public employment services by increasing resources to implement individual assistance policies to search for jobs and guarantee equality when accessing jobs. On the contrary, the reform transfers this responsibility to private employment agencies looking for profit without defining a procedure with the public employment service or an obligation for equal treatment for all jobseekers. This opens a dangerous exclusionary path for people with difficulties of being hired, as they will not be profitable for private employment agencies looking to make money.
To sum it up, this reform reduces labour rights and is part of the attack against the Welfare State. As for the taken measures’ uselessness and unfairness, the CCOO says NO TO THIS WAY; there are other ways of doing things. If on the 29th of September all of us stop, we will make it possible.
Joan Carles Gallego Herrera
Secretary General of CCOO de Catalunya