Employers and unions once again starred yesterday in a clear image of social and labor consensus during the signing of the V Agreement for Employment and Collective Bargaining (AENC) for the period 2023-2025. This is the thematic guide used by the employer and union representatives who negotiate the more than 4,000 collective agreements of more than eleven million employees, to whom the text ratified yesterday recommends a 4% salary increase this year, and a 3 % in 2024 and the same in 2025. Along with this increase and thanks to “reasonable assignments” by both parties, as the president of CEOE, Antonio Garamendi, said yesterday, a salary review clause of up to an additional 1% is also included each year, if the CPI is higher than agreed.
Precisely, this design of the salary increases and their updating with prices, is behind one of the great objectives of this agreement, which is, as Garamendi also said yesterday, “to stop second-round inflation”, that is, the circle vicious rise in prices and wages when trying to ensure that workers do not lose any purchasing power in a scenario of runaway inflation. The latest inflation data for April -which has yet to be confirmed by the INE- stood at 4.1%, one point less than the average wage increase agreed to of 3.14%, up to March, for more than seven million wage earners.
However, and given that these guidelines are recommendations, all the signatories stressed that the wording of the text leaves open the possibility that each negotiating table modulates salary increases.
But, having said this, and when asked about the employer’s message to companies that are not going to apply the agreed increases this year, the CEOE leader was clear when referring to the increase of 4%, 3% and 3% for the next three years: “I tell you that this is the path, this is the way, it is the recommendation and the agreement that we have worked with many sectors and we think that it is the line in which we have to go”.
In the same sense, the general secretary of the UGT, Pepe Álvarez, warned that “the fact that the agreement is not binding does not mean that we do not have to apply it, because it obliges the signatories; and I hope that this will help move forward with the nearly 1,400 agreements that must be renewed before the end of the year”.
In short, the general secretary of CC OO, Unai Sordo, explained the importance of the pact by assuring that “if it serves to recover wages, that would be the best antidote to the threats of slowdown that still hover over the economies. It would be a great service to the country.”
Along with the salary chapter, the business and union leaders agreed yesterday on a clear message, repeatedly emphasizing that the staging of the signing of the AENC yesterday served, above all, to value the bipartite social dialogue, without the Government sitting at the table. In fact, all the social leaders stressed that the development of the rest of the matters included in the agreement should first be addressed in the agreements and from there towards higher levels of bipartite negotiation.
Among these matters, Álvarez cited the impact on employment of artificial intelligence; climate change, which affects large productive sectors; equality; absenteeism, “from the perspective of the collapse in primary care”; the pending issues of developing the labor reform, such as the extension of the temporary contract from six to twelve months; or teleworking and digital disconnection.
Thus, they pursue that bipartite collective bargaining is preferably the area where future regulatory reforms in labor matters are gestated. On this point, the president of Cepyme, Gerardo Cuerva, complained that “today there are regulations that do not follow the proper path and should be brought before (approving) the bipartite, real and sincere dialogue of employers and unions” .
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