First major demonstration against labour reform measures set for June 30th

Catalan trade unions send out opening salvo in protest against government policy on run up to European general strike on September 29th

Alba Falcó Vila

June 17, 2010 09:33 PM

The main trade unions in Catalonia, the CCOO and the UGT, have announced that June 30th is the date for the first major mobilization organized in protest at the Spanish government's plans for labour reform and social cuts in their attempt to resolve the economic crisis. The demonstration will affect all the provincial capitals and major cities within Catalonia, and will be the first of a series of social actions to be taken before the general strike called across the whole of Spain on September 29th. The general strike will coincide for the first time with similar social and labour protests scheduled to take place throughout Europe. The unions are already working towards this goal “because they want to do the job seriously”.
The general secretaries of the CCOO and UGT, Josep Maria Alvarez and Joan Carles Gallego, have once again shown again their opposition to a labour reform that “does not generate employment”, but will mean a “loss of workers' rights". Moreover, the union leaders argue that this labour reform will condemn the country to a production model based on “low wages, insecurity and low value non-competitive production”. Alvarez said that in a few years, “Spain will be closer to Morocco than to Germany”.

Gallego coincided with Alvarez that these reforms will lead to job cuts. According to the UGT leader, the Spanish Socialist Party's proposal “reduces the cost of dismissals and increases the number of reasons for which an employer can unilaterally decide when to dismiss an employee”. This freedom weakens the possibility of introducing mechanisms of collective bargaining, a situation which will lead to a “dangerous and non-competitive” productive model for the state, according to both representatives.

The CCOO leader considers that the labour reform approved on Wednesday by the Council of Ministers satisfies 70% of the employers' demands while only handling 30% of the unions' requests. The UGT leader, Gallego, also criticized the fact that this labour reform does not take into account the 20 days compensation for employees when the company runs into financial difficulties.

On the other hand, the CEOE (Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations) considers that this labour reform measure is just “the beginning and is still insufficient. It must be improved in order to reach the labour reform that the Spanish economy needs”. Employers' requests include the permanent elimination of the 45-day contract. The CEOE considers that this will be “much more effective” because it will reduce the numbers of temporary workers.