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Spain – Trade unions agree on salary moderation scheme

26 January 2012

Spain’s two biggest trade unions, Working Commissions (CC.OO.) and the Workers General Union (UGT), signed a salary reduction agreement with various employers on Wednesday.

The so-called Second Agreement for Collective Use and Negotiation was signed by the two trade unions and the Spanish confederations of Enterprise Organizations (Ceoe) and of Small and Medium Companies (Cepyme). This agreement will establish a moderate wage rise of up to 0.5% for 2012, 0.6% for 2013 and up to 1.5% for 2014. The agreement is expected to increase internal flexibility for companies.

“This pact is what Spain needs at the moment,” said UGT Secretary General Candido Mendez in a press conference, although he admitted that the agreement will lead to wage reductions for some Spanish workers. 

Juan Rosell, president of Spain’s main business group Confederacion Espanola de Organizaciones Empresariales said that the private sector, just like the public sector, will have to do its utmost for Spain “to survive the present economic fiasco.”

Minority unions were not happy about the agreement as it will lower wages for some and reduce job creation.

Spain is one of the European countries most hit by the economic crisis and has experienced high levels of unemployment last year, especially amongst the country’s youth. Although this agreement aims to stabilise the economy, many Spanish people are prepared to go abroad to find better jobs and higher salaries. As the Spanish Statistics Office (INE) recently reported, 600,000 Spanish people emigrated in 2011, particularly to South America.

"Last decade Spain broke all immigration records," said Andreu Domingo, professor of demography from Barcelona." A survey by employment agency Randstad meanwhile confirmed that 62% of unemployed Spaniards are willing to move abroad if they are offered a job.

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