MADRID: The Spanish Minister of State for Employment, Yolanda Díaz, receives a final warning from the public employment service. For over a year, SEPE officials have faced five times the workload. The labour service announces staff will strike if they do not receive additional help.
For nearly a year, SEPE officials have been working overtime to handle all ERTE applications and procedures. However, the sheer volume of work means there are continuous backlogs and mistakes are being made. Not only is a lot being asked of the SEPE employees, it has a knock-on effect for those on the ERTE scheme. Thousands are waiting a long time for payments, putting them in a precarious financial position.
March strike in the absence of reinforcement
SEPE officials announced a strike in March should Minister Díaz not deploy additional resources to ease the pressure. The Ministry of Employment and Social Economy has remained silent recently. The silence prompted SEPE employees to take additional measures, such as the two-day strike in March, the USO union reported to Spanish news site El Economista.
SEPE workload five times higher
The public employment service has been struggling with insufficient staff for some time, with many employees having retired recently. Moreover, the pressure on the civil servants currently working there is high. The workload is five times the norm, according to SEPE. After several requests for help, 1,500 extra people were hired. This proved insufficient to handle all the work correctly and on time.
Action in June 2020 was of little use
In June 2020, 1,000 SEPE employees took action. They united in a platform called Movimiento SEPE, pointing out the extremely long working days, including public holidays. They also demanded the dismissal of the general manager. Since then, this action has had little effect. Aside from the hired reinforcement, the number of applications has remained extremely high and the situation does not look likely to improve anytime soon.
Two weeks ago, El Economista wrote that 756,000 employees in Spain use an ERTE scheme. In March 2020, during the first corona wave, there were significantly more at around 3.6 million.