Catalan Government approves decree to reinstate public employees’ full salary
Public employees of the Catalan Executive will receive their full salary in 2015. For the last 3 years, they have earned some 7% less in order to meet the strict deficit targets unilaterally imposed by the Spanish Government. The Catalan Government has approved a decree on Tuesday setting the full salary’s restitution, but the measure will not be “100% guaranteed until the new budget for 2015 is approved”, stated the Catalan Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs. The governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU and the opposition left-wing independence party ERC are currently negotiating this new budget, although the ERC has thus far been reluctant to support it. The CiU and the ERC have been negotiating for the last few weeks over whether to call early elections in order to transform them into a ‘de facto’ plebiscite on independence, and whether they should run together or not. The 2015 budget is also part of this debate.
Barcelona (ACN).- Civil servants and the rest of the public employees of the Catalan Executive – or related institutions and public companies – will once again receive their full salary in 2015. On Tuesday, the Catalan Government approved a decree setting the restitution of the public employees’ full salary, although the measure will not be “100% guaranteed until the new budget for 2015 is approved”, stated the Executive’s Spokesperson and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs. The governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU and the opposition left-wing independence party ERC, which have shared a parliamentary stability agreement during the last 2 years, are currently negotiating this new budget, although the ERC has thus far been reluctant to support it. The CiU and the ERC have been undertaking a long-drawn-out poker game for the last few weeks, in which they mix the 2015 budget and the debate on whether to call early elections in order to transform them into a ‘de facto’ plebiscite on independence, while also discussing whether they should run together or not. They both agree on reinstating public employees’ full salary, but they have different views about the next steps on the self-determination road map.
For the last 3 years, public employees working for the Catalan Government and its bodies have earned some 7% less than usual in order to decrease public spending to meet the strict deficit targets unilaterally imposed by the Spanish Government. Furthermore, temporary workers have had their working hours reduced by 15%, coming with a corresponding wage decrease. The initiative has been saving the Catalan Government some €700 million per year.
However, this austerity measure is far from being shared by everyone in Spain, since many Autonomous Communities and the Spanish Government did not cut their employees’ salary in 2014. In fact, the Autonomous Communities, with Catalonia at the forefront, have carried out most of the austerity adjustment in Spain’s total public sector, with the Spanish Government not going as far with its adjustments since it transferred most of the burden onto the shoulders of regional executives, who exclusively manage and fund the basic functions of the Welfare State (such as healthcare, education and social policies). The Catalan Government is taking this measure now because the overall economic recovery is much better than it was a year ago.
The decree approved on Tuesday cancels the order included in the 2014 budget not to pay 1 of the 14 payments into which public employees’ salary are divided. It will not affect the 2014 figures since it will come into force on the very last day of the year. However, should a full new budget not be approved for 2015 and the 2014 one is extended into next year, public employees could get their full salary. Homs emphasised that the Catalan Government is therefore “honouring its commitment” to pay the entire salary in 2015.
However, the decree will have to be ratified by the Catalan Parliament, where the CiU lacks an absolute majority and should get the votes or the abstention of at least one other party – namely the ERC or the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) – to approve new measures and laws. Homs hoped that “no party” will be against it. Even if the decree is ratified in a few weeks, the measure will enter into force retroactively from 1 January, 2015. However, in order to have a “100% of legal guarantee” a new budget including this measure should be approved for 2015, since “this way the payment is consolidated through a spending commitment” in the Government’s budget. In this case, the budget has “an order of payments” already predefined, where “wages are top of the list”.