The Spanish unions support the state pension reform

BARCELONA – Spain’s left-wing government won union support on Wednesday to reform the country’s public pension system, in stark contrast to neighboring France, where plans to raise the retirement age have prompted it Waves of strikes and mass protests.

The leaders of Spain’s two main unions, UGT and CC.OO., together with Social Security Minister José Luis Escrivá, appeared in Madrid to baptize the plan, which the union leaders both described as “historic”.

CC.OO. Secretary-General Unai Sordo said the reform was key to securing pensions for Spain’s pensioner population, which he said will increase from 10 to 15 million people by 2048.

“This is about maintaining a pillar of our social system,” Sordo said.

Not so across the border in France, where unions on Wednesday held another round of massive street protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s push Raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 yearsa move he says is necessary to sustain public pensions going forward.

Spain, whose workers are already required to stay in the job until at least the age of 65, is not being asked to work longer. Instead, the new deal signed by the unions aims to deal with a looming boom in the number of retirees by raising companies’ social security costs for higher earners.

Spain has one of the fastest aging populations in Europe and one of the highest youth unemployment rates of around 30% – a cocktail that has made optimizing its pension system a must.

A reform of Spain’s social security system was one of the European Union’s requirements for Spain to continue receiving billions of euros from its system Post-pandemic recovery fund. Escrivá received approval from Brussels last week to go ahead with the plan.

“I would like to congratulate the government and especially Minister Escrivá on their ability to negotiate with the European Union, because this is an agreement that enjoys the support of Europe and that has enormous importance for our pensions,” said Pepe Álvarez, Secretary General of the UGT .

Spain’s top business groups have criticized the plan, saying it will hurt recruitment by increasing the burden on businesses.

The plan will be approved by Spain’s cabinet on Thursday and then submitted to parliament to become law. Its passage would be a much-needed boost for Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s coalition ahead of local and regional elections in May and national elections in December, after coalition members recently clashed over the coalition Government Sexual Consent Act.

After the 2007-09 global recession, which hit Spain hard, the government reformed public pensions, allowing workers to retire at age 65 after having worked 38.5 years. Otherwise they would have to wait until the age of 67.

Spain’s average annual salary is around 28,000 euros ($29,500), just below the EU average and well below the French average of 40,000 euros ($42,000).

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. The Spanish unions support the state pension reform

Sarah Y. Kim

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