PSOE reaches accord with CCOO & UGT trade unions

UGT's Josep Maria Álvarez, PSOE's Pedro Sánchez & CCOO's Ignacio Fernández Toxo. Photo: Sergio González / El Mundo
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• Repeal of ‘labour reforms’ by PP in 2012 & Zapatero in 2010 high priorities
• PSOE, unions to focus on measures to improve lot of youth, women, pensioners

Following a first-ever joint meeting of the full executive committees of Spain’s Socialist party (PSOE), the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT, or ‘General Union of Workers’) and the Comisiones Obreras (CCOO, or ‘Workers’ Commissions’), the three organisations’ leadership on Monday announced agreement to a five-point programme they say marks a new era of collaboration that will focus on improving the lot of Spanish workers and rolling back anti-labour measures in the so-called “labour reform” law passed in Congress in 2012 by the conservative governing Partido Popular (PP).

The agreement comes less than 10 days after the reinstatement of PSOE general secretary Pedro Sánchez at the party’s 39th conference, at the end of which Sánchez called for a broad coalition of forces to work together to introduce legislation in Spain’s lower house of parliament that will dismantle what he called the “retrograde” laws passed during the period of the PP’s absolute majority in Congress from 2011 through 2016.

The five-point plan agreed to this week focuses on working to include more young people in the labour force, who are seen to have disproportionately suffered as a result of austerity measures accompanying the economic downturn that began in Spain in 2008; maintaining Spain’s pension system under the original guidelines established in the 1995 Pacto de Toledo; striving toward gender equality in wages, salaries and working conditions in all places of employment; protection of unemployment insurance levels; and, repeal Article 315.3 of Spain’s penal code, which dates to the Franco era and criminalizes strike actions such as picket lines that are designed to discourage any individuals from working.

The union leaders said they would work with the PSOE to present a legislative initiative to the Congress of Deputies that would overturn the PP’s so-called “labour reform law” of 2012 and in so doing would also nullify the 2010 labour reform measures enacted in 2010 by the Socialist government of former President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Those measures, strongly opposed by the unions at the time, were implemented at the behest of foreign creditors along with other austerity measures imposed by the Zapatero government at the height of the Spain’s economic crisis, which was triggered by the global mortgage default crisis that began in 2007 the United States and spread worldwide.

► Read More in Spanish at El Periódico, El Mundo and El País …

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