The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, has proposed modifying the Workers’ Statute so that the Minimum Interprofessional Wage (SMI) always corresponds to 60% of the country’s average wage, as recommended by the European Social Charter. In a conversation organized by the PSOE, Sánchez and the Minister for Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations, José Luis Escrivá, agreed on the need to implement this recommendation through legislation and for this reason they have promised to implement it in case of revalidate the government. Both Sánchez and Escrivá have emphasized the rise in the SMI that has been carried out during the last Legislature. This is an increase of 47%, up to 1,080 euros per month, which places the SMI practically at that 60% of the average salary recommended by Europe.
In addition to undertaking this increase by “dignifying” wages, the minister has defended that a higher minimum wage “ends up generating positive dynamics of economic efficiency.” In other words, Escrivá considers that higher salaries in the lower part of the salary range put pressure on the market towards productivity gains and towards better jobs. As an example, Escrivá has given the Nordic economies, which have undertaken “very aggressive” increases in the SMI and have led to the generation of stimuli and incentives for “more productive and better jobs” economies.
In this context, the minister and the president have agreed on a legislative proposal so that, “whatever the government”, there is always that reference of 60% as a “legal mandate”. The minister has also analyzed the different components and elements of the Spanish labor market, such as the high rate of youth unemployment that persists in the country, which he has labeled as “unacceptable”.
To try to alleviate this problem that the Spanish labor market has historically suffered from, Escrivá has proposed a public-private collaboration program so that young people who have been unemployed for a certain time can join a company with an accompanying mentor. In the minister’s opinion, programs of this type have been launched in other countries and have had “extraordinarily positive” results. But this is not the only thing that Escrivá proposes in terms of job training. The former president of AIReF has also promoted university microaccreditations, especially in cases of older workers who have become unemployed. Of course, these accreditations would be very far, says Escrivá, from courses or training “that are useless.” “They have to be very well-defined programs for the needs of the labor market,” he added.
Another of the axes that Escrivá defends in regard to the labor market is the role played by the Administration, and especially the Public State Employment Service (SEPE), so that it is more effective and contributes better to the labor insertion of unemployed people. Specifically, the minister advocates for an interoperable platform that forms a “single labor market”, in such a way that those workers from an autonomous community can access other vacancies distributed throughout the Spanish territory or that, for example, certain standards are ensured. minimums on personalized itineraries for job seekers. In addition, Escrivá has recalled that this body receives “large” public funds, for which he has insisted on making a “much more efficient” use of it.
In another order of things, Escrivá and Sánchez have talked about the current working conditions and about their projects to promote work-life balance. In the opinion of the minister, in Spain the working hours are “very long and very rigid”, compared to other countries such as Germany, where there has been a path towards more flexible and shorter working hours that have allowed “very positive” behaviors for both workers as for companies.
To illustrate it with a figure, Escrivá pointed out that Germany 40 years ago had a similar number of hours worked per year as Spain today, around 1,650; and that since then the German country has reduced the number by about 300 hours, to stand at 1,350 hours, without this implying a decrease in competitiveness. Of course, the head of Social Security has made it clear that any measure in this regard should always be studied in the field of collective bargaining, that is, taking into account the positions of the unions and employers.
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