The Catalan Government plans to modify the working conditions of 45,000 public employees
The Catalan Government has drafted a plan regarding public employees for the 2012-2014 period. The aim is to reduce public spending in order to meet the deficit targets by reorganising civil servants, including their working conditions. The plan foresees the possibility of a reduction in salaries and working hours, as well as making their working conditions, tasks, and location more flexible. 6,800 temporary workers will have their hours reduced by 15% from April 1st. Unions have criticised the plan. However, the Catalan Vice President has asked unions to avoid exaggerating the issue and creating problems.
Barcelona (ACN).- The Catalan Government has presented a plan of action titled “The Employment Plan for the organisation’s rationalisation and staff optimisation”. It will run from 2012 to 2014 and it affects 45,000 Catalan Government public employees, excluding health, education, police and other professionals employed by the Government of Catalonia. According to the trade unions, the plan aims to “adapt the spirit of the Labour Reform” approved by the Spanish Government to the public sector. According to them, 45,000 people would see their working conditions, tasks, hours, location and salary changed without negotiation, following a unilateral decision from the Catalan Government. The first people affected by the plan will be the 6,800 temporary workers. Their working hours will be reduced by 15% from April 1st. Temporary workers will also have their salary reduced by 15%, totalling a 25% reduction in the last 2 years, since they are also affected by the salary cuts implemented by the Spanish and Catalan Governments, Montse Ros from the Workers Commissions (CCOO) stressed on Friday. However, the Vice President of the Catalan Government, Joana Ortega, who is responsible for human resources in the public sector, considers the complaints from the unions to be “an exaggeration”. She also asked them “not to create problems everywhere”.
After the presentation of the Catalan Government’s plan, union representatives organised a press conference where they denounced the Catalan Government’s unilateral modification of public employee working conditions. Representatives from the CCOO, UGT and IAC, have rejected the Government’s plan, which affects all public employees except those working in education, healthcare, prisons, police, rural bodies, and fire-fighters. Unions have complained about what they judge to be the Catalan Government’s decision to avoid negotiation. “We cannot agree on a rational modification of the working conditions of 45,000 people when we received the proposal on Thursday March 15th at 9pm, and they want to reach an agreement by Monday March 19th, four days later”, stated Montse Ros, from CCOO.
The unions complain
Xavier Casas, from UGT, qualified the Government’s plan as “exploitation”. He pointed out that the plan will directly influence basic services offered to citizens. He also emphasised that the plan, which has been created to counterbalance the current economic crisis, does not clarify if the measures will continue after the economic recovery.
Union representatives complained that the plan foresees unilateral modifications of the tasks and location of employees. The plan gives the different Ministries of the Catalan Government, the power “to reorganise tasks and functions, as well as reorder the working day and hours, modify the job locations, retributions [salaries], change the job description, and reassign resources”. According to the union representatives, this plan enables all sorts of arbitrary decisions, including the geographical changes of the staff.
The Catalan Vice President has asked the union not to exaggerate
On Friday, the Vice President of the Catalan Government, Joana Ortega, considered the union statements about relocating 45,000 public employees to be “an exaggeration”. She said that the staff affected by a change of geographic location will be “very few cases”.
Ortega also denied that the negotiation period ends next Monday. She asked the unions “to facilitate things and not create problems”. The Vice President said that if a final agreement is not reached it will be because unions have “put their foot down” and refused to compromise.