With the rejection of his usual allies, the president of the Spanish left government, Pedro Sánchez, obtained this Thursday the in extremis approval of his labor reform, demanded by Brussels, thanks to the mistaken vote in favor of a right-wing deputy.
Thus, the government obtained a minimal majority of 175 yeses against 174 noes for its text, aimed at reducing insecurity in the Spanish labor market, number one in Europe in temporary contracts.
According to the opposition Popular Party (PP, conservatives), it was one of its deputies who gave the decisive vote in favor, but according to the formation it was due to a “computer error” since the politician wanted to rule against it. The formation demanded “that this vote be rectified”, in the mouth of its spokesperson, Cuca Gamarra.
This situation did not prevent the celebration of Pedro Sánchez, who wrote on Twitter: “Spain has a new labor relations framework that places the dignity of work at the center. With the labor reform we recover rights and rebuild consensus to advance in quality employment “.
Entry into force on January 1 after it was agreed in December after an intense dialogue between the government, the employers and the unions, the reform needed to receive the green light from the Lower House, with 350 seats, under penalty of becoming a dead letter.
The fate of the reform was up in the air until the end: The Socialists, who govern in coalition with the radical left of Podemos, failed to win the support of several of their traditional allies.
The Basque nationalists and independentists of the PNV and EH Bildu, as well as the Catalan separatists of the ERC, voted against, along with the PP and the extreme right of Vox.
The liberals of Ciudadanos (centre-right) and small regional formations such as the PDeCAT (Catalan independentists) voted in favor, usually in opposition.
Two deputies from a small party, UPN, changed their vote to no, so without the error of the PP deputy, the reform would have failed.
That liberals and right-wing deputies have given their support does not destabilize the political balance of the government, guaranteed a spokesman for the Socialist Party, Felipe Sicilia. “We are going to continue counting on our partners, we are going to continue counting on the leftist bloc,” he said.
– “Balanced” reform –
The adoption of the labor reform was one of the conditions imposed by Brussels to disburse the funds of the European post-Covid recovery mega plan, of which Spain will be one of the main beneficiaries with 140,000 million euros (about 160,000 million dollars).
This urgency, together with the expectations of the social agents, made several government heavyweights intervene this Thursday to warn of the consequences for Spain of a rejection of the reform.
“Those who vote no will have to explain why. Because really, in substance, there is no good reason to oppose a labor reform that (…) will allow us to create quality employment,” warned the vice president of Economic Affairs, Nadia Calviño.
“Turning our backs on this reform, rejecting it, letting it fall, is returning us to the starting point in the disastrous game of precariousness,” said the Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, who asked to leave behind the “disastrous model of precariousness” implemented in 2012 by the conservative government of Mariano Rajoy.
The Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, promised to reverse the 2012 reform, motivated at the time by the need to relaunch the Spanish economy, ruined by the 2008 financial crisis.
It achieved a sharp drop in the unemployment rate, from almost 27% in 2013 to 13.3% today, but at the cost of great job insecurity: Spain holds the European record for temporary contracts.
Negotiated for months with unions and employers, who defended a “balanced” reform, the text approved on Thursday limits the chaining of temporary contracts and makes indefinite hiring the rule and not the exception, while limiting the use of subcontractors.
It also prohibits the dismissal of civil servants for economic reasons, reinforces the training of employees and allows companies to temporarily pause the current regulations in times of crisis to avoid dismissals.