Social Rights

On this page you will find a summing-up of the section “Social Rights” that was handled in the debate. If you weren’t able to assist and you would like to leave your precious contribution, so do it! We are currently working on a tool to enable a real debate online so that the work of the past days can go on, you will hear soon news about it.

Ladislao Martínez: Policies on privatization “The public-sector is originated only to satisfy certain needs that the privat one doesn’t meet.”

The public-sector has been very important throughout Spanish history. It was created because it was needed: to improve the quality of life because the private-sector wasn’t meeting certain needs.

During the 1970s the public sector plays a decisive role in the economic structuring of the country rescuing the private-sector and improving the quality of life. In the 1980s a process of privatization was set into motion transferring an important part of the public patrimony to the private-sector and launching a new offensive in Latin-American in the fashion of a “reconquest”.

The argument to carry out the privatization process was the inneficacy of the public-sector, but this is inaccurate.

At present there is a second process of privatization going on: AENA (Spanish Airports and Air Navigation), Canal de Isabel II (public company that manages the water supplies for Madrid, Spain. It is owned by the Autonomous Community of Madrid) , Loterías del Estado (Specifically is the Ministry of Economy and Property the agency that manages part of the lottery sold in Spain)

There are interesting experiences of resistance and fight against these privatization-processes. For example the recent Italian one and its referendum, by means of which the process of privatization of water was slowed down, since Italian legislation establishes that 500.000 signatures are enough to hold a binding referendum (Berlusconi encouraged the Italian population to go to the beach instead of voting and no Italian television channel dealt with the debate, note that a minimum participatory quote was required so that the result is actually binding, but even so Italians voted.

Bibiana Medialdea. Labour and Social Security/Retirement Pension reforms
“It’s a fallacy to state that the public sistem of pensions/social security is unsustainable. Every year the final balance shows benefit.”

The Labour and Social Security/Retirement Penson reforms represent two of the most important attacks against the Spanish population in the recent years. They are embedded in a broader context of economic decline of the last two years: purchasing power falling, a recessive tax collection system…

The Labour Reform make dismissals easier and cheaper: labour mediation is thereby privatized, which before was a public service. The severance pay corresponding to permanet contracts is reduced from 45 to 33 days of payment for each year worked. And there is more: if the company suffers economic losses, the serverance pay can be reduced 13 days further, compensating workers with just 20 days. Absenteeism form work is legitimated as cause of dismissal. Even a justified sick leave is now acknowledged as cause of dismissal. Briefly, the Labour Reform facilitates and cheapens to dismiss workers. Certain contractual forms become jeopardized such as apprenticeships and traineeships: exactly those ones that are taken by young people.

This is not a valid solution for our unemployment problem, because it cause is not the regulation of dismissal, but the fact that selling prospects aren’t good: there is no demand. The measures of this reform do not generate employment. And our Spanish market of labour is not more rigid than any other within the EU. There is a need of active policies regarding the generation of employment.

The Social Security/Retirement Pension Reform was passed in March 2011 and accepted by the unions which represent most of the workers. It reduces their level and the number of entitled pensioners since the age of retirement is increased from 65 to 67 years. Furthermore it broadens the period of calculation, which is raised to 38 years of work to become the maximum pension. And the minimum age to access early retirement is also raised in two years: from 61 to 63.

The reform has some positive aspects too: people who are in charged of an ill or disable person do not need to work and researches and scholarships holders obtain up to two years of contribution.

It is fact to state that the public system of pensions/social security is unsustainable: according to our GDP , expenses are only three porcentual points below the average of the EU. And in fact, every year the balance shows benefits.

Regarding the aging of population, the public system of the state is not thereof threated. Although productivity in Spain it is not really high, it is continuously growing, which means that the same amount of employed people could sustain more inhabitants in a situation of unemployment.

If it is the future what makes us to be worried, we should start thinking about the incomings that fund our public system of pensions/social security. Thus we could consider how to generate new jobs for example for women, since among them the rate of laboral activity is really low; or how to increase the weight of salaries within the national income; changing the tax recollection system of the higher ends to make them pay a fair contribution, or at last chance taxes could be used to fund pensions.

The taken measures nonetheless only pretend to send a message to the markets: we are ready to undertake reforms in our financial system so that the citizenship will have turn to private systems of pensions. Forcing the population to close a plan for a future retirement pension is a fraud, especially when in the current situation, 60% of Spanish families struggle every month to cover just the basic expenses. We are talking therefore of excluding private plans, which usually offer an extremly low rentability and are not a good form of guaranteeing a future. We shall remember the Irish case here, where a vast part of the population had closed a private plan of retirement pension and since many of the companies that were supposed to warrant a future free of worries, broke, many pockets of poverty emerged.