A reform needed to compete in Europe

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Just four months ago, the new Government took office with a sword of Damocles hanging over its head: the responsibility to adopt the right measures to overturn our labour market’s critical situation. Up until now, it appeared that it was not enough having 400 companies going out of business everyday over the last three years, reaching an absolute unemployment record or returning to the situation of an economic recession. The Labour Reform was one of the most awaited measures and it had the entire country with their fingers crossed in order to see that for once the Government had carried out the right changes within our labour market and provided the tools to make the continuity of our business projects viable.

The much-awaited Reform came into force only one month ago and there is still aspects that can be improved. However, we the business-owners believe that a step further has been made and that this Reform attacks the base of a labour relation model that was clearly unsustainable. Finally, it is acknowledged that companies with less than 50 workers mainly form our productive network, which need specific measures (the ‘think small first’ principle). Furthermore, finally the flexibility principle is set in resources management, as an alternative to shutting down companies and destroying jobs, which on many occasions had we had been advised to do by both academics and by almost all international organisations. In fact, if those measures would have been implemented earlier, many more jobs could have been saved.

The Government has received claims from business-owners. It has also understood that essential issues for business competitiveness, such as the irregular distribution of the working day, the possibility to dissociate a company from the collective sector agreement or the priority applying the company’s agreement over that of the sector, as well as less intervention by public powers in the geographic mobility or restructuring processes, are minimum conditions that had to be guaranteed by the Reform.

Despite this Reform has aspects that could be improved, we the business-owners assess it as a brave and important step to recognise ourselves as equivalent to the rest of the Europe Union. We also believe it might help to recover our companies and entrepreneurs’ trust and security, in particular if this Reform comes with other reforms to stimulate the economy and improve the credit access.

 

Josep González

President of PIMEC (Catalan SME Association)

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