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Labour market reform, Spain

Evidence based policy-making in Spain

Evidence-based policy-making is in short supply in Europe as governments, egged on by bankers and other capitalists, go around blindly creating one disaster after another without the slightest attention to the facts.

Mariano Rajoy’s Spain, with the catastrophically brutal austerity package it passed at the turn of the year and subsequent moves to deregulate the labour market, appears to have one of the larger evidence deficits, and the right-wing government’s cosy relationship with big business is definitely not helping.

The employers, not satisfied with the Popular Party government’s attacks on labour rights that  water down collective bargaining and cut severance pay outs now want all benefits cut for job seekers who reject even a single job, ‘even if it is in Lapland’, despite there being no official figures or any other evidence on why jobs are not filled. There is, however, plenty of data about how there are no jobs to fill.

Ignacio Escolar, a blogger and columnist for El Público newspaper, comments

José Luis Feito, spokesman for [the employers association] CEOE, says that ‘probably in 80% of cases’ the unemployed reject job offers because they don’t want to move from ‘one barrio to another in their city’*. His source? ‘Probably’

Spain has 23% unemployment and even the region with the lowest rate – the Basque country with 12.6% – is above the European average. A post in Spain that remains unfilled because you can’t find an unemployed person who wants to move to take it is like a mythological animal, like the Unicorn or the Yeti: it’s never been seen.

Spaniards move alright: to Germany, France and the United Kingdom, and even to Lapland if necessary. According to research by Randstad 60% of Spaniards are prepared to emigrate in order to find work. Many do. According to [the national statistics agency] INE, the numbers have risen to 25%: 2011 was the first year in the 21st century in which more people left Spain (507,740) than entered (417,523).

Spain’s problem is not labour mobility but unemployment and social exclusion. Twenty two percent of Spaniards are already living below the poverty line (surviving on less than Euros 7,800 a year) according to the the latest Caritas report. 580,000 have lost all benefits, as well as a job.

Spain is the country with the largest social gap between rich and poor in the EU, according to Caritas. We are also one of the few countries where employers – despite being very few in number – have a higher share of the national income than workers  collectively. In the early 1980s, wages accounted for 53% of GDP. Last year, according to INE, they hit an historic low, of 46%. And this year it will fall further.’

More reading…

Randstad report (in Spanish) 

Caritas report (in Spanish)

Capital grabs more wealth than labour for first time – Revolting Europe

Ignacio Escolar blog

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or @revoltingeurope

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