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Spain – Company blasted for reducing workers’ hours then recruiting more employees

15 August 2013

The Confederation of Workers Commission (CCOO) has blasted Spanish telecoms company Sitel Iberica for advertising 15 new posts, despite placing 124 employees on short-time work contracts in July, known locally as ERTE.

As defined by the European Commission, short-time work (ERTE) is a temporary reduction in working time intended to maintain an existing employer/employee relationship. It can involve either a partial reduction in the normal working week; for example a reduction in weekly contract hours, or a temporary redundancy such as a full suspension of the employment contract. 

In February 2013, Sitel Iberica announced the creation of approximately 400 new jobs through the expansion of their contact centre in Seville. The company then announced in June that 137 employees at the Seville plant would have their contracts converted to ERTE for six months. In August, 13 employees were reinstated on full contracts. Representatives of CCOO are demanding that the employees on ERTE be given the first opportunity to apply for the 15 new positions. 

José Antonio Pérez Navarro, secretary of the Federation of Administrative and Financial Sectors for CCOO, has said that it was regrettable that Sitel Iberica was advertising new posts when more than 100 current employees are facing employment uncertainty.

Short-time work is intended to help employers achieve numerical flexibility during periods of temporary economic downturn without resorting to redundancies. It also gives the employer the advantage of retaining trained staff, rather than sourcing new employees when the economic situation improves.

According to the European Labour Force Survey of 2009, almost two million European employees said they worked fewer hours due to a lack of work for technical of economic reasons. 

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