Officials want their own income pact and they want it now: immediate review of their salaries this year to go beyond the 2% increase foreseen in the Budgets and a multi-year agreement for 2023 and 2024 to guarantee that public employees do not lose power purchasing power due to the inflationary spiral triggered by energy prices.
This was transmitted this past Friday by the CCOO unions. and UGT to the Secretary of State for Public Function, Lidia Sánchez Milan, as union sources confirm to ABC. They also told him that if they do not meet that minimum, the unions will apply to the Government the same recipe that they have already prescribed to the CEOE: pressure in the streets and campaign of mobilizations and protests until the Government agrees to compensate for the impact of inflation in the payrolls of the nearly three million public employees in Spain.
Specific figures were not discussed at the meeting, but the unions have been making it clear to the Government in the contacts that have been held in recent days that they will not accept any salary revision for this year that falls below 3.5%. A reference that they consider cautious in a context in which average inflation could end between 6 and 7.5% according to analyst projections.
"We demand the negotiation of a multi-year agreement that recovers the purchasing power of public employees," the CCOO assured yesterday. and UGT in a statement. "We are not willing to consent that the more than three million public employees are left without salary review," they stressed in the same text.
Apart from the bilateral space of the unity of action, the CSIF union has been the first to stand at the head of the demonstration against the Government for its indolence when it comes to updating the salaries of public employees and this coming Wednesday it will start the street to demand that they sit down with the unions and negotiate the way in which public personnel are going to be compensated for escalating inflation.
"The Government cannot avoid collective bargaining with the legitimate representatives of public employees to address the current situation, shielding public services and recognizing the work they provide to society," they point out from the union.
At the moment, the statements that have come out from the field of the Government's economic area have sent any negotiations on wages, including the possible compensation for the deviation of the CPI for this year, to the year 2023.
The unions, however, do not accept this scenario and demand a nod from the Government this year to prevent it from closing with a loss of purchasing power that can range between four and five points.
They allege that public employees have already suffered a loss of purchasing power of 15 points since the great financial crisis of more than a decade ago and that in the last 15 years they have given between 15 and 18 months of work to the Administration for this effect.
The threat of demonstrations in the streets has not impressed the Ministry of Finance -which has regained the powers of the Public Function after the last government crisis-, which for the time being has remitted any negotiations on the matter to the end of the negotiating tables on the offer of public employment and over-stabilization of workers, and although it has promised to convene the Public Function negotiating table, it still does not foresee any specific appointment to deal with the matter.
The Government has its reasons for delaying the matter. The economic impact that the measure would have for the state coffers is far from minor. If the 2% rise already set in the General State Budgets will cost 3,000 million euros for the coffers of all Public Administrations, raising the rise of public employees in 2022 by 1.5 extra points would raise that bill to the 5,250 million euros. That is to say, this latest claim by officials to bring the payroll update closer to the progress of the CPI would mean allocating another 2,250 million euros of public resources.
The measure would also be carried out in a context in which the salaries of the 2.8 million public employees registered by Social Security already account for the public coffers close to 140,000 million euros per year, an invoice that does not nothing else to grow. With this, the total transfers from the State, adding public pensions, now reach 290,000 million euros each year.
As the Finance professor at the CEF, Juan Fernando Robles, warns, this circumstance supposes "a high burden for the taxpayer" that will increase if the path of oversizing the State structure continues. Only the revaluations of pensions and public sector salaries have cost 9,000 million euros, a figure that could rise to 11,250 million if the unions' claim is completed, which would be equivalent to one point of GDP invested only in revaluations. Total public transfers are equivalent to a cost of 24.1% of GDP.
In recent weeks, organizations such as the Bank of Spain have warned of the potentially harmful effects for public coffers and for inflation of indexing public income, pensions and civil servant salaries.
The Civil Service unions have been pressuring the Government for two years to reopen salary negotiations after the multi-year agreement signed with Cristóbal Montoro in March 2018 expired in 2020. Their objective is to recover the almost structural loss of purchasing power that was generated by the snip of between 5 and 10% that the Zapatero Government applied to their payrolls in 2010 and the wage freeze between 2011 and 2015.