The confrontation between employers and the Spanish Government goes up another notch. Gone are the days of repetitive tripartite agreements, among which labor reform stands out. In recent months, the CEOE has not joined any consensus, and the Ministry of Labor has only obtained the support of the unions, as is the case with the unemployment benefit reform.

If the waters were already moving, two decisions of the Council of Ministers this week have agitated them even more, with the CEOE accusing the Executive of taking an interventionist drift after establishing the prevalence of regional agreements, and also of wanting ” break the social dialogue” after giving access to the Economic and Social Council (CES) to autonomous employers, such as Pimec. Two issues adopted without negotiating with either the employer or the unions.

The prevalence of regional agreements over state agreements will come into force this Thursday after the Spanish Government introduced it on Tuesday in the decree-law reforming the unemployment benefit, which has caused a harsh reaction from employers. In a statement, the CEOE affirms that “the Spanish Government continues to drift into the interventionist drift” in the field of labor relations, since this initiative modifies “substantially, unilaterally and in order to comply with political agreements” a space of negotiation that it considers corresponds to companies and workers.

In addition, the employer insists that this prevalence given to regional agreements breaks market unity and that, in this way, the agreements reached in the framework of the latest labor reform are being violated. The CEOE considers that in these negotiations it was agreed to leave aside the issue of the prevalence of regional agreements. A point of view that is not shared by the Spanish Government, which sees no impediments to developing this matter. In addition, the Executive is very conditioned by its negotiation with the PNB, so that this party would support the investiture of Pedro Sánchez. At that time, the Spanish Government undertook to give precedence to the regional agreements, it tried to do so in the first decree to reform the unemployment benefit, which was overturned by Parliament, and now it is adopting it again.

For its part, Foment del Treball accused the Executive of “filibuster and authoritarian for having consciously dynamized the social dialogue”, adding that these actions of the Spanish Government tend to think that its objective “is to legislate against employers”. This prevalence of regional agreements also gave rise to criticism from the unions, who describe it as interference because it has been carried out without negotiation with social agents.

The second element of rejection by the CEOE and Foment are the steps the Spanish Government is taking to introduce more competition in business representation, giving prominence to regional employers’ associations, such as Pimec. The CEOE considers that with this move, the Executive wants to “break the social dialogue by forcing the entry into dialogue forums of actors similar to their interests”.

In February, Pimec already secured a place in the National Consultative Commission for Collective Agreements (CNCC), and now the door to the CES is being opened. If currently only the CEOE and Cepyme have representation in the body chaired by Antón Costas, it will soon also include Pimec. The CES has three months to adapt its legal texts, and from this modification, three months for the entry of new members.