Two million Catalans will benefit from a 37.5-hour working week

Two million Catalans will benefit from a 37.5-hour working week

BarcelonaThe unions are saying it clearly: a reduction in the working day must be agreed upon either yes or no this summer. Negotiations between the Ministry of Labour, workers’ representatives and the employer are still waiting for the employers to break the deadlock and present a written proposal or leave the door open to reaching an agreement without them. The secretary general of the CCOO, Unai Sordo, insisted on Monday at a press conference in Barcelona that reducing working hours in Spain is “necessary” and “possible”; and urged the government of Pedro Sánchez to resist pressure to delay this reform.

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The union has presented its calculations that nearly two million salaried workers – three out of every four employees in the private sector – will benefit from the reduction of working hours to 37.5 hours per week. In fact, the first part of this measure, which involves reducing the working day from 40 to 38.5 hours, will already affect 1.3 million people. The secretary general of the CCOO in Catalonia, Javier Pacheco, has confirmed that this positive impact will reach 100% of workers in agreements such as trade, hospitality or leisure. Initially, it was proposed to apply the reduction to 38.5 hours this year and to 37.5 from 2025.

Specifically, this Monday another meeting of the negotiating teams between the CCOO, the UGT, the CEO and the Ministry of Labor took place. During this meeting of the Social Dialogue Table, the Spanish government put on the table a new proposal with some flexible measures, such as more leeway for the irregular distribution of working hours, to try to include employers in the agreement. The Secretary of State for Labor, Joaquín Pérez Rey, insisted on inviting the Executive to reach an understanding “with all parties”, which is why he is open to making some adjustments to his initial approach. The proposal, which Efe had access to, includes as a novelty that during 2025, the amount of hours available to work will continue to be linked to the working day prior to the reduction. However, the CEO has not commented at the moment on this latest offer.

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In this sense, Sordo also showed that he is more open to flexibility regarding the dates of application of the reduction in working hours – that is, when it actually comes into effect – but in any case he is demanding a solution to the “immediately” rule. He explained: “We can have margins to negotiate the deadlines, because it does not have to come into effect in August.” Sordo categorically ruled out that the reduction in working time would be compensated by additional hours: “This scenario is completely ruled out.”

Employer Campaign

The union leader denounced the “intense” campaign underway to discredit the arguments in favour of reducing the working day and refute that this measure is a burden on competitiveness or that it should lead to a decrease in productivity in the Spanish economy. Sordo defended that “almost all exporting sectors work less than 40 hours a day, and even less than 38.5 or 37.5 hours a week. They cannot compete because of the deterioration of working conditions, and they must be able to compete with other criteria”.

The union is not only concerned about this blockage, but also took advantage of the press conference to denounce important collective agreement negotiations that remain pending agreement with the employer. This is the case, for example, in the meat, textile and chemical sectors, which affect 30% of workers in the Catalan industry. Pacheco and Sordo have warned that if this paralysis continues, there will be new movements in the autumn to demand better wages for the 166,000 affected workers.

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