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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
In his triumphant State of the Nation address today, President Rajoy announced that three million new jobs will be created, with annual growth rates of over 2%. Just as long as Spain doesn't "go off course" (i.e. fail to vote the PP back in).

He's also announced a raft of measures to help the low-paid and unemployed, including tax breaks, lower social security payments, help for single parent families and a chance to renegotiate mortgage repayments for those facing eviction. He's left it a bit late of course, but could it be that the shadow of Podemos is pushing the PP to the left, just as the UK mainstream parties are moving to the right to chase UKIP voters?

And given what happened last time, with most election promises broken within the first year of office, will anyone actually believe him?

Rajoy congratulates himself on taking Spain out of the crisis without a bailout
http://elpais.com/elpais/2015/02/24/inenglish/1424785412_590027.html
 

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You could read into the promises that he knows he cannot win the election in the sense of forming a government with a majority so he may as well set the bar high so he can say in a year or two "see they failed and have even negated the progress I made".

3 million jobs!! How many shelf stackers does he think Lidl need?? :D
 

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In his triumphant State of the Nation address today, President Rajoy announced that three million new jobs will be created, with annual growth rates of over 2%. Just as long as Spain doesn't "go off course" (i.e. fail to vote the PP back in).

He's also announced a raft of measures to help the low-paid and unemployed, including tax breaks, lower social security payments, help for single parent families and a chance to renegotiate mortgage repayments for those facing eviction. He's left it a bit late of course, but could it be that the shadow of Podemos is pushing the PP to the left, just as the UK mainstream parties are moving to the right to chase UKIP voters?

And given what happened last time, with most election promises broken within the first year of office, will anyone actually believe him?

Rajoy congratulates himself on taking Spain out of the crisis without a bailout
Rajoy congratulates himself on taking Spain out of the crisis without a bailout | In English | EL PAÍS
Unfortunately a large number of people will believe what they are told. All around Madrid there are posters about healthcare and education with the PP putting their spin on things (La mejor sanidad y los mejores servicios hacen de Madrid una gran comunidad) Maybe it is the best served comunidad, but that doesn't make it a good service (77,000 on waiting lists apparently) and they've spent over 1,4m€ on these posters! All through his intervention Rajoy repeatedly said he had achieved xy and z without compromising the general welfare of the people which is a lie, but it seems that if you say something enough times people will believe it, so it's a good tactic.
I didn't hear all of it by any means, but I did hear the bit about 3 million jobs ;). I also heard how he finished his reply to Pedro Sanchez which was something along the lines of "don't come here again to tell us nothing", and "You were" or "it has been pathetic!" And said with true feeling too!
Podemos was referred to or mentioned on many occasions. What ever happens with them in the end, they are keeping the other parties on their toes for the moment :)
I didn't hear Pedro Sanchez unfortunately
 

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In his defence, at least Rajoy seems aware that a big cause of unemployment in Spain is related to the cost to an employer of indefinido contracts. Not only in terms of what the employer has to pay each month, but the potential redundancy payments that prevent both the employer from replacing employees and employees from changing job voluntarily. On this point he is right and Podemos, who I believe want to roll back labour market reforms, are still somewhere in the late Jurassic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
In his defence, at least Rajoy seems aware that a big cause of unemployment in Spain is related to the cost to an employer of indefinido contracts. Not only in terms of what the employer has to pay each month, but the potential redundancy payments that prevent both the employer from replacing employees and employees from changing job voluntarily. On this point he is right and Podemos, who I believe want to roll back labour market reforms, are still somewhere in the late Jurassic.
But that's what he was saying four years ago, and the "excessive" costs to the employer were all supposedly dealt with by legislation passed early in the current term. It didn't work. It had the opposite effect. There are more temporary contracts now as a percentage of total jobs than before the last election, and more people with no work at all.

I'm sure Mary will correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the most successful economies in Europe have high levels of union membership and strong workers' protection rights?
 

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But that's what he was saying four years ago, and the "excessive" costs to the employer were all supposedly dealt with by legislation passed early in the current term. It didn't work. It had the opposite effect. There are more temporary contracts now as a percentage of total jobs than before the last election, and more people with no work at all.
Yes he did make some changes before, and it looks like they have started to work since unemployment has started to fall. Obviously these things don't have an immediate effect. But maybe they didn't go far enough?

I'm sure Mary will correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the most successful economies in Europe have high levels of union membership and strong workers' protection rights?
Well I could point out that the two most successful economies in Europe at the moment (Germany and the UK) have removed a lot of union power, and made it cheaper for companies to employ people by removing some of the excessive protection rights some workers used to enjoy - usually at the expense of others. And I could point out that the UK and Germany have the lowest unemployment and are where hoards of Spanish youth have headed because the employment laws in those countries actually encourage employers to employ them.

However that kind of analysis doesn't usually go very far - somebody uses one country to support one argument, them someone else uses another country to support another argumemnt and nobody ever reaches a meaningful agreement.

So instead I'd rather use more anecdotal evidence, having worked for various companies in Spain for over 10 years, and currently being on an indefinido contract myself. I have been with my current company for nearly 8 years which means, according to Spanish employment law, my company has to pay me a nearly year's salary to lay me off. In the UK it would be two weeks wages. Now to be honest, I really should have changed job a while ago because I've been doing it a long time, there aren't that many opportunities for promotion, and it would do me and the Spanish economy good if I went to another company, taking my skills with me, and building on them. this would then free up my current position for somebody new to come in - maybe a Spanish graduate who is currently unemployed.

But the risks associated with changing company are way too high because I'd lose all the redundancy I had built up, and changing jobs is risky. So I stay put. And this is what everyone else does in Spain. As soon as they've been on an indefinido contract for a few years they stay put, and many end up in "zombie" jobs where they have no work to do but their employer simply can't afford to lay them off. I had one colleague who spent all day downloading "things" off the internet - he did nothing. Eventually he was laid off, but my employer had to pay him a 6 figure amount to get rid of him. the employer recuperated the money by taking it out of everyone else's bonus the following year. So all that supposed "protection" was great for him, but it damaged the company and his colleagues.

Times have changed - most jobs simply aren't for life. Companies have different requirements for different people at different times, and labour laws should help companies fill those requirements and employ people. And as people move from company to company they build on their skills, earn more money, and spread their knowledge around the economy. This is how it works in the UK for skilled people, and its how it works in the USA as well. Unfortunately Spain is still in the dark ages.
 

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I like this last comment Chopera. I worked,in one of the last contracts I did (1997-99) as a basic contract design engineer for a Spanish company who had set up a research base on the campus at Warwick University. There was no real contract a such shall we say. We were paid only what we actually did by the hour, on an hour's notice either way.

No holiday pay, no sick pay, no nothing. and results had to be achieved! They were probably the worst people I have worked for at any time.

Why were they in the UK? Openly admitted that they could get away with it. It could not happen in Spain. Work was tight at the time unless you went to Germany or the US. Hence the pay was above average (until IR35 kicked in) so a gang of us stuck it out.

You do what you have to do.

regards
Ian
 

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I like this last comment Chopera. I worked,in one of the last contracts I did (1997-99) as a basic contract design engineer for a Spanish company who had set up a research base on the campus at Warwick University. There was no real contract a such shall we say. We were paid only what we actually did by the hour, on an hour's notice either way.

No holiday pay, no sick pay, no nothing. and results had to be achieved! They were probably the worst people I have worked for at any time.

Why were they in the UK? Openly admitted that they could get away with it. It could not happen in Spain. Work was tight at the time unless you went to Germany or the US. Hence the pay was above average (until IR35 kicked in) so a gang of us stuck it out.

You do what you have to do.

regards
Ian
Yes a balance has to be reached somewhere. I have also been exploited at work many times, and really cried out for some kind of union support. However in Spain it seems that many unions come with too much baggage, and are there to serve themselves as much as their members.
 

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Yes he did make some changes before, and it looks like they have started to work since unemployment has started to fall. Obviously these things don't have an immediate effect. But maybe they didn't go far enough?



Well I could point out that the two most successful economies in Europe at the moment (Germany and the UK) have removed a lot of union power, and made it cheaper for companies to employ people by removing some of the excessive protection rights some workers used to enjoy - usually at the expense of others. And I could point out that the UK and Germany have the lowest unemployment and are where hoards of Spanish youth have headed because the employment laws in those countries actually encourage employers to employ them.

However that kind of analysis doesn't usually go very far - somebody uses one country to support one argument, them someone else uses another country to support another argumemnt and nobody ever reaches a meaningful agreement.

So instead I'd rather use more anecdotal evidence, having worked for various companies in Spain for over 10 years, and currently being on an indefinido contract myself. I have been with my current company for nearly 8 years which means, according to Spanish employment law, my company has to pay me a nearly year's salary to lay me off. In the UK it would be two weeks wages. Now to be honest, I really should have changed job a while ago because I've been doing it a long time, there aren't that many opportunities for promotion, and it would do me and the Spanish economy good if I went to another company, taking my skills with me, and building on them. this would then free up my current position for somebody new to come in - maybe a Spanish graduate who is currently unemployed.

But the risks associated with changing company are way too high because I'd lose all the redundancy I had built up, and changing jobs is risky. So I stay put. And this is what everyone else does in Spain. As soon as they've been on an indefinido contract for a few years they stay put, and many end up in "zombie" jobs where they have no work to do but their employer simply can't afford to lay them off. I had one colleague who spent all day downloading "things" off the internet - he did nothing. Eventually he was laid off, but my employer had to pay him a 6 figure amount to get rid of him. the employer recuperated the money by taking it out of everyone else's bonus the following year. So all that supposed "protection" was great for him, but it damaged the company and his colleagues.

Times have changed - most jobs simply aren't for life. Companies have different requirements for different people at different times, and labour laws should help companies fill those requirements and employ people. And as people move from company to company they build on their skills, earn more money, and spread their knowledge around the economy. This is how it works in the UK for skilled people, and its how it works in the USA as well. Unfortunately Spain is still in the dark ages.
in UK two months not weeks
 

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The biggest danger is the opposite - having no real contracts which are as bad as, if not worse than, zero hours ones. Employers who can drop you at the drop of a hat and will do so if it suits them are the reason a lot of employment protection legislation came into force.

We do not want to see a return to those days.

The two last jobs I had were:
1. with a computer audit firm back in the 90s (this was zero hours) -they called you when they wanted you and I did quite well when there was work about because I was good at the job. But the company was taken over by an American firm that only wanted our software so just dumped us, with no redundancy or anything.
2. with a bus company. I was employed as a mini bus driver serving the remote villages and connecting people (many of them elderly and/or disabled) with the main buses and trains. The company's contract included a clause that if you were off-sick on the day before a holiday (public or annual), then you could not be on holiday (because you were off sick) - a quite normal, standard clause. The Union instructed its members not to sign the contracts because of it. I knew that it was a normal clause and signed mine. The County Council whose service we were operating put it out for tender after I had been there for a few years and the said bus company decided they didn't want it anymore so our jobs went by the wayside. They offered retraining on "big" buses for those that wanted it. I didn't, and said I wanted redundancy instead. They refused and said I wasn't redundant because there was work available. I waved my copy of the contract under the nose of the hatchet man who was out to get rid of us (or get us to assimilate) pointing out that I was employed as a mini-bus driver and they had not got work for mini-bus drivers - therefore I was redundant. After a lot of rows, I eventually won and got my redundancy but was not allowed to say anything to anyone.

That Union (Sorry Mrypg) was crap. The shop-stewards (big bus drivers themselves) used to pitch their pay negotiations for the big boys to our (the minis) detriment. Our pay was originally pitched at a considerable percentage below that of the biggies. Pay rises should have seen that percentage differential maintained but that didn't happen. One year the Union negotiated an increase in the hourly rate if they gave up the premium that was paid for working Saturdays and Sundays - sounds good doesn't it? The Barstewards gave up our (minis) premium as well and we got no increase in the hourly rate so, effectively we had a pay decrease.
 

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in UK two months not weeks
Yes I think it's changed a bit in the UK since I last worked there - it's now a week for each year worked (a week and a half if you are over 40). In Spain it's now 30 days pay for each year worked (45 for years prior to 2012) regardless of age. So in Spain employers are still expected to pay out roughly twice the redundancy than in the UK. When you take into account that unemployment benefit in Spain is much more generous as well, I still think there's room for Spain to be more in line with the UK when it comes to redundancy payouts.

I should add that on certain other matters, such as maternity leave, and rights for mothers (and fathers) to work reduced hours in order to care for children, Spain is ahead of the UK. However UK employers are better when it comes to flexi-working in general. I know of few Spanish employers that allow people to work from home for example.
 

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I should add that on certain other matters, such as maternity leave, and rights for mothers (and fathers) to work reduced hours in order to care for children, Spain is ahead of the UK. However UK employers are better when it comes to flexi-working in general. I know of few Spanish employers that allow people to work from home for example.
Maybe an aside but I think we must consider the common decency and humanity of employers. I have seen a number of Spanish employers I would happily shoot and I'm not naturally a violent person. I believe there is a major change required in the Spanish mentality as well as rule changes (and that applies to people within my own Spanish family ;)).

In the 25 years I have been an employer in the UK and Spain I have never not gone beyond the rules in favour of the employee. I need to sleep at night :)
 

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Yes he did make some changes before, and it looks like they have started to work since unemployment has started to fall. Obviously these things don't have an immediate effect. But maybe they didn't go far enough?
Hmm, I think it depends on whose hype you believe. According to the PP their changes to the law have generated jobs and contracts and they don't seem to define the conditions. The rest accuse the PP of creating low quality jobs that are precarious and with poor conditions.
I have heard of several incidences of workers being told to work 7 day weeks or get out (Super Cor, rented shop areas in El Corte Inglés and two bakeries)
 

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Hmm, I think it depends on whose hype you believe. According to the PP their changes to the law have generated jobs and contracts and they don't seem to define the conditions. The rest accuse the PP of creating low quality jobs that are precarious and with poor conditions.
I have heard of several incidences of workers being told to work 7 day weeks or get out (Super Cor, rented shop areas in El Corte Inglés and two bakeries)
I think one of the problems with employment law is that "one size doesn't fit all" types of job. The cases I was talking about refer to skilled private sector work, where the employee can change company and "play the field". Normally this forces employers to respect skilled employees in order to keep hold of them.

In other sectors, more protection might be required. A health worker or teacher for example doesn't have so many opportunities to change employer because that sector usually has just one employer: the state. So in those cases you might want employees to have a bit more protection against redundancy.

In the case of low skilled private sector work, yes there's a problem in that employees are open to exploitation simply because there's always someone else to do the job. But these people aren't on indefinido contracts anyway. By law an employer only has to award an indefinido contract after 2 years, and up until then employees are on temporary contracts with very few rights. So many employers employ people for 2 years and then dismiss them. In these cases what's needed is for there to be an incentive for employers to get people onto better contracts to begin with, where they will be a bit more protected, and to encourage empliyers to award them indefinidos after 2 years. That requires indefinidos to be more attractive to employers in relation to temp contracts. Of course it would help if the government gave more protection to those on temp contracts as well.
 

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But that's what he was saying four years ago, and the "excessive" costs to the employer were all supposedly dealt with by legislation passed early in the current term. It didn't work. It had the opposite effect. There are more temporary contracts now as a percentage of total jobs than before the last election, and more people with no work at all.

I'm sure Mary will correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the most successful economies in Europe have high levels of union membership and strong workers' protection rights?
Yes, that is the case...
But....what Chopera says is very true and making people redundant is sometimes necessary to save the jobs of others. Sandra had to do that when we lost a valuable contract and I had to do it at school when our budget couldn't run to the number of teaching assistants we had.
Each case is unique, really. No sensible employer wants to get rid of people for no good reason. It sours workplace relations, for one thing. Many German companies put their skilled workers on shorter hours so when order books began filling up they still had their skilled workforce.
I do think redundancy payments in Spain are too high. Our charity has a worker, employed for nearly twenty years, not the most assiduous employee, to put it mildly...but we can't afford to make him redundant.
It's all about co-operation and balance, imo. Employee and employer should be partners in creating prosperity, not class enemies. That's why I think the German system, also employed in other European countries, is just and effective. Workers are represented at many levels on boards of companies over a certain size and have real power...power, for example, to see the books when redundancies are threatened.
The fact is that the economy can take off and grow in real terms only via an efficient private sector. The public sector can kick-start an ailing economy and should, imo, but it cannot add to GDP. And of course fair redistributive taxation not only creates a more equal society but also funds public services.
So Alca is right. Strong, representative trades unions are needed not only for economic purposes but for human dignity. The workplace is all too often somewhere adults spend many hours with no say whatsoever over their pay and conditions.
My ideal is a kind of capitalist Trotskyism, worker-owned private sector enterprises, like John Lewis, Waitrose and many others. There is an umbrella organisation for this rapidly growing sector.

I'm going to my very last Union Conference in April. Over forty years uninterrupted membership...I'll miss it all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Yes I think it's changed a bit in the UK since I last worked there - it's now a week for each year worked (a week and a half if you are over 40). In Spain it's now 30 days pay for each year worked (45 for years prior to 2012) regardless of age. So in Spain employers are still expected to pay out roughly twice the redundancy than in the UK. When you take into account that unemployment benefit in Spain is much more generous as well, I still think there's room for Spain to be more in line with the UK when it comes to redundancy payouts.
It's now 20 days if the firm has made a loss in the last three quarterly periods, and capped at 24 months (down from 42).

It's meaningless to compare Spain with the UK because Spain doesn't have the same unemployment benefits provided by the State.
 

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I think one of the problems with employment law is that "one size doesn't fit all" types of job. The cases I was talking about refer to skilled private sector work, where the employee can change company and "play the field". Normally this forces employers to respect skilled employees in order to keep hold of them.

In other sectors, more protection might be required. A health worker or teacher for example doesn't have so many opportunities to change employer because that sector usually has just one employer: the state. So in those cases you might want employees to have a bit more protection against redundancy.

In the case of low skilled private sector work, yes there's a problem in that employees are open to exploitation simply because there's always someone else to do the job. But these people aren't on indefinido contracts anyway. By law an employer only has to award an indefinido contract after 2 years, and up until then employees are on temporary contracts with very few rights. So many employers employ people for 2 years and then dismiss them. In these cases what's needed is for there to be an incentive for employers to get people onto better contracts to begin with, where they will be a bit more protected, and to encourage empliyers to award them indefinidos after 2 years. That requires indefinidos to be more attractive to employers in relation to temp contracts. Of course it would help if the government gave more protection to those on temp contracts as well.
Some of this I think comes from the attempts at rationalisation of employment law across the whole of the EU. Some countries embrace the whole thing, others find ways around the ramifications. The uK is one of the worst offenders. However its like the working hours directive. This caused untold problems to those companies who had (there aren't many left now) continuous process working with large amounts of heavy plant (furnaces, cupolas etc) running. You just cannot shut these things off and despite running full blown shift patterns with full employment for each shift, holidays, sickness, deaths, bereavements would all wreak havoc on the planning as much of this stuff had minimum staffing levels. Hence there had to be much reliance on overtime and double shifts to even keep the jobs in place.

Like you say, one size cannot fit all. We now have the health and safety bandwagon as well to contend with. Therefore businesses and their managers look to their own and try to find ways around all of these problems which may be immoral but are not yet as such illegal.

regards
Ian
 

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It's now 20 days if the firm has made a loss in the last three quarterly periods, and capped at 24 months (down from 42).

It's meaningless to compare Spain with the UK because Spain doesn't have the same unemployment benefits provided by the State.
Whilst it's inevitable that people compare with what they know best, it really is difficult, and often fruitless to compare systems in different countries
 
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