Spain’s PSOE-Podemos government approve anti-working class labor law

Irina Baranova

The Socialist Party (PSOE)-Podemos coalition government has passed a reactionary anti-working class labor law. It was designed by the trade unions, big business and the Podemos-led ministry of labour; overseen by the European Union (EU); passed with thanks to parliamentary support from right-wing parties, and has received the blessings of Spain’s financial aristocracy.

The reform continues the one approved by the right-wing Popular Party (PP) in 2012, the harshest attack Spanish workers suffered since the end of the fascist dictatorship of Francisco Franco in 1978.

The PP reform led to Spain’s being one of the EU countries with the most temporary contracts. It led to mass job destruction, wage cuts and hundreds of thousands of youth leaving the country to seek jobs elsewhere. Coming after the 2008 global economic crisis, the explicit aim was to cut wages and thus increase exports to increase profits for the ruling class.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (PSOE), second left, walks next to Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, second right, and First Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo, left, at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, Jan. 14 2020. (Image Credit: AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

The new law effectively validates the PP’s reform. Despite the attempts of Podemos, the PSOE and liberal media like El País, and Público, to market the new reform as “progressive,” the truth is that key aspects of the PP 2012 law remain. These include:

  • The reduction in compensation for unfair dismissal from 45 to 33 days per year worked with a maximum of 24 months instead of the previous 42;
  • The ability to sack workers by simply alleging foreseeable losses in the future;
  • Collective dismissals are simplified through Employment Regulation Files (ERE). These no longer require administrative authorization, and corporations have sacked tens of thousands of workers using EREs;
  • Employers’ ability to cut salaries, modify working hours, change employees’ place of work or job description by alleging “economic, technical, organizational or production reasons.”
  • Employers’ ability to withdraw from collective agreements.
  • Employers’ ability to impose overtime on workers in part-time contracts, a mechanism that facilitates exploitation, fraud and precariousness.

The continuity with the PP’s labour reform is such that Mariano Rajoy, the right-wing prime minister who oversaw the law, told the conservative ABC newspaper that the PSOE and Podemos “left the labour reform where it was.”

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