Labor prepares to fight a sharp increase in the minimum wage | Economy

The commission of experts that studies how much and how the minimum interprofessional salary (SMI) should rise will meet next Friday, the 2nd. Its job will be to study the different variables to take into account to raise this income in 2023, above all, with the objective that the Government fulfill its commitment to raise it to 60% of the average salary in this legislature, which only has one year left.

The first of the keys is to specify what the average salary is to know what amount should be reached as a minimum to fulfill the promise of the coalition government. And, if this group of experts maintains the sources used for its previous reports, that average earnings will be measured with data from the Annual Survey of Salary Structure (which measures compensation in industry, construction and services). The latest data used by the experts to recommend a path to increase the SMI was that of 2018, according to which in 2023 the minimum wage would have to stand at 1,049 euros per month in 14 payments (14,686 euros per year). That would require an increase in the current amount (1,000 euros per month, 14,000 per year) of 4.9%.

But in the Ministry of Labor, different sources consider that this amount set by the experts in June 2021 is too low, precisely because to arrive at it the average salary data for 2018 was used “which has been totally out of date”, they indicate, while betting that the most up-to-date data is used. Thus, after that survey, the National Institute of Statistics (INE) has published two others: that of 2019 and 2020. It would therefore be the latter, the most up-to-date as a reference of the average salary.

According to this, the most updated average earnings per worker per year in Spain would amount to 25,165.51 euros per year, 4.8% more than the average salary of 2018 used to set the recommended increase for 2023. Therefore, the equation is simple: 60% of said average salary would be 15,099 euros per year, or 1,078 euros per month in 14 payments. This would require an increase of 78 euros per month compared to the current minimum wage, which would mean an increase of 7.8%. In itself it would be a strong rise 2.5 points higher than that applied last January and that some Administration sources do not rule out as of today.

But, in addition, if there were any temptation to apply increases lower than that, the Vice President of the Government and Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, made some intentional public statements last Thursday, warning that the Government “will tell” the commission of experts that “beyond 60% of the average wage” that the new minimum wage must represent, they must take into account the high level of prices (10.8% in July and the average annual forecast is currently close to 8%). Moreover, Díaz even pointed out where this reference to prices is included: in article 27 of the Workers’ Statute, where inflation is pointed out as one of the issues that must be taken into account to revalue the minimum wage – along with the share of wage income in GDP, productivity and the economic situation–.

Adding both issues, it follows that the increase in the SMI for which the Ministry of Labor could bet from the start would be around 8%; if it is also taken into account that the increase of 10% to 1,100 euros per month also demanded this week by the UGT union is seen as too high by the sources consulted.

However, in order to start negotiations with proposals to increase the minimum wage by around 8%, Díaz will first have to overcome some internal obstacles, fundamentally those of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, led by the first vice president and minister of the branch, Nadia Calviño , whose rejection of strong increases in this income is publicly known. Everything points, therefore, to the fact that the internal struggle carried out by Díaz and Calviño and their respective teams could be reissued in previous negotiations to increase this income in which the head of Labor usually wins.

What was already completely ruled out in the debate on the minimum wage was the possibility of territorializing it by autonomous communities. Although, the Salary Structure Survey does offer the average earnings of Spaniards in each region, which reflects how close or far a supposed regional minimum wage would be from the SMI (60% of the average earnings of each territory)

Taking the current minimum wage of 1,000 euros as a measure, with the updated data from this survey, there would be eight communities that would exceed it (Basque Country, Madrid, Navarra, Catalonia, Asturias, Aragon, Balearic Islands and Cantabria).

But if the SMI rose by 7.8% to 1,078 euros, it would only be exceeded by this national income of Catalonia, Navarra, Madrid and the Basque Country (see graph).

The employers do not plan to agree to any increase

Businessmen. The climate in CEOE-Cepyme is not exactly one of seeking salary agreements and less to increase the SMI, according to the sources consulted. After a dozen exemplary pacts with the Government and unions in response to the Covid crisis, businessmen have already stood up to the last increase in the minimum wage to 1,000 euros and they will predictably do so again. In addition, the management leadership faces his re-election in 2023, which will not favor him to support a rise that, with all certainty, his associates reject.

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