“Salary of conflict”: National strike imminent in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
salary conflict

MADRID – It’s going to be tense autumn. At least that’s what the largest Spanish unions, CCOO and UGT, promise. “Salary of conflict” is the telling slogan they used on Wednesday during a demonstration outside the headquarters of the Spanish employers’ association CE.

UGT and CCOO accuse the companies of keeping salaries low. For example, they seem to want to recoup all the money they lost during the pandemic within a year. Moreover, all at the expense of the purchasing power of their employees. 

Salary of conflict demonstration

During the demonstration outside the headquarters of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organisations (CEOE), they demanded a salary increase and warned of tense autumn full of strikes and conflict if employers don’t pay better salaries. 

Wages in Spain must be higher to guarantee the purchasing power of the workers. The unions will therefore continue with their strategy of “tightening collective bargaining negotiations”, because through them “wealth is distributed”. 

The CCOO secretary denounced that the companies “pass on the increase in energy costs”. Furthermore, they were reminded that “they cannot just secure their profits without paying them to their employees”. 

“Every time we pay at the supermarket we are shocked when we hear that we pay 30% more. The companies charge higher prices to maintain their profits,” said the secretary. 

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Strikes to get the raises 

“The CEOE should know that we are starting to win the wage battle, that the vast majority of collective agreements signed in our country in 2022 have a salary review clause (…) with salaries above the proposals that the CEOE has made to us,” the unions said. 

The unions intend to generalise the mobilisation and coordinate the sectors. For example, from September they can go into very broad conflicts with the aim of companies sharing their wealth with their employees. 

Rather negotiate than strike 

They also emphasised on Wednesday that they do not like organising strikes. Therefore, they would rather meet with the companies to negotiate a fair and balanced wage agreement. 

CCOO and UGT are asking for a salary increase of 3.5% for this year, 2.5% for 2023, and 2% for 2024, accompanied by a salary review clause. 

The minimum wage must also go up 

In addition to asking for wage increases in collective agreements, the unions have expressed their intention to further revise the Interprofessional Minimum Wage (SMI), which was raised at the beginning of the year to €1,000 per month in 14 benefits. A six-monthly review with the Consumer Price Index becomes more urgent as inflation increases. This month the CPI was 10.2%. 

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