COMPANY representatives and unions have agreed on the new government's proposed minimum wage increase just two days before a planned protest was due to take place across the country. The demonstration was called off...
Staff 'should be told what their colleagues earn', says PSOE
EMPLOYEES should have the right to know what all their colleagues in their company earn, the opposition socialists (PSOE) in Spain's government says.
According to Pedro Sánchez, leader of the left-wing party and the reigning PP's main rival, being able to find out whether your salary is the same as everyone else's who does the same job would help close the gender pay gap which, experts believe, continues to exist across Europe even in its wealthiest and most-developed nations.
It would also prevent favouritism, such as relatives or friends of the boss earning more for the same work; 'bribes' to key staff members in the way of pay rises to make them stay with the company, and stop companies from paying certain employees less money on the grounds of health, having taken maternity leave, or even personality clashes.
Whilst it is likely that the vast majority of companies pay staff on a set scale according to their role and relevant skills, qualifications and experience rather than any other factors, and that there are sound, professional and above-board reasons for different salary levels or productivity bonuses, it is also likely that a small number of employers whose practices are less fair slip through the net.
Staff would have to make a formal request to their boss or HR department if the move became law – they would not automatically be told.
Although this information would not be allowed to be circulated outside the company, it would not be anonymous, either: lists of staff and their pay would include their full names so they could be identified by their colleagues.
The socialists have called for a meeting with key representatives of the business world and with tax minister Cristóbal Montoro and employment minister Fátima Báñez.
They want wages across the board to go up by at least 2.5% next year, and 3% thereafter annually until 2021 inclusive, when the situation would be reviewed.
Also, they want the minimum monthly wage for a full-time job to go up €98 per month every year, reaching €1,000 a month by the year 2020.
PSOE secretary for economic policy and employment, Manuel Escudero, says that although jobless figures have gone down considerably in the past few years, jobs are far more precarious, part-time and short-term with worsening conditions.
He said either quality, stable employment needs to increase, or salaries have to go up, so that the majority of Spanish adults are able to make ends meet.
“Productivity levels reached in the past are sufficient to be able to justify applying pay increases, and where productivity rises, so should wages,” he insisted.
Currently, the minimum wage for a full-time job – considered to be 40 hours a week net of breaks – is just €707 a month.
Even though this is based upon 14 salaries a year – with a double pay at August and Christmas – it still falls far short of the cost of living, given that an average mortgage comes in at about €360 a month and typical rent prices for a standard apartment around €450, depending upon area.
And the minimum wage is what companies are most likely to pay, rather than being the exception or only for unskilled labour.
With a minimum salary of €1,000 per month, Spain would make great steps towards meeting the European Social Charter's requirement of this being at least 60% of the average wage in the country.
“This would be the clearest sign in the market that the era of low wages is going to disappear,” said Escudero, saying it would send out a message to companies that employees needed to earn more than they did during the financial crisis years.
Public-sector workers should have pay rises in line with inflation every year as a bare minimum, and 'small additional non-basic salary extras' should be introduced to help them 'recover the spending power they lost' during the recession.
Either that, or the standard 40-hour working week needs to be cut to 35 hours – or ideally both, says Escudero.
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