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Tired of bad news?? (some good news from Spain)

by kcurie Sun May 7th, 2006 at 11:11:25 AM EST

Do you want a break? Good news once in while...

Well..good news, excellent news below the fold...about Spain of course.

Today has been one of these weird days where all the good news come one after the other (And I am not only talking about Barcelona winning the  National League with the best football seen in years).

On the first round of good news, the economic growth of Spain reaches 3.5 %  as reported in El Pais. Growth quite balanced among different sectors. A little bit more than expected in construction but other than that quite balanced.

The same day the employment suffered the most dramatic increase seen in an April month in the last...well EVER. Actually, it was the largest reduction of unemployment in April since statistics are compiled (it started in 1980) according to El periodico. Reduction of unemployment strongly felt among women in particular (40.000 less). According to the same sources the number of people employed increased by 200.000 reaching the 18.5 million. Amazingly high for Spanish standards.

But that's not all...

From the front page (with format and title edit) ~ whataboutbob


Even if these were not good news today unions and bosses (patronal as we call them)  have reached a very good agreement. A labour reform... yes a reform.. and a reform that makes sense. It is the BREAKING HUGE NEWS in Spain as we speak. A reform that does not mean fuck-ng the average Joe. An agreeemnt that takes into account the problem of the flexibility needed in the spanish service industry. Employees and employers were amazingly rational (even for Spanish standards which is normally high).
The list of reforms is quite large La vanguardia reports that the most important measure is  forbidding that a single person can be hired temporally for more than 30 months: After that he must take an indefinite contract. If companies want to abuse the present system they will have to look for a new person each time. Unfortuantely formation contracts are out of this game. So there is an open window for the companies to cheat. But it will be a heck of a lot more difficult.

The number of inspectors will also increase, and now any fault will be extremelly easy to detect.

Another very important measure is the support that companies are going to get to advance the change from temporal to fix contracts. Quite some money if they hire women or young people in a very stable and well-paid job. More importantly, they could hire with a contract where the payback to the worker for firing is 33 days per year worked if they do the change in the next two years. After that only 45 days per year payback...as now.

But most importantly, ZP and Solbes have also been of the idea that work should not be taxed so heavily. So...what beter way to convince the bosses that reducing the money they give to the unemployment fund (the one that provides the unemplyment benefits when you are out of job) when you have a propelry and well-paid worker, why should you pay the same as the rest?  So if you are a boss and you treat workers fine...you pay less to the government.

This is all for now...but just in case you need your bit of bad news...the house bubble is still growing in Spain..at a smaller pace..but growing...and the tehnological and science structure of Spain still lack resources and connection with the industrial complex....

Other than that (in growth, employment, social services,energy security,civil rights)..Spain is going fine....and with reforms...balanced reforms int he economy...Actually they are NOT REFORMS..THEY ARE AGREEMENTS!!!

What about trying it in other countries? You just need good bosses and good unions...I guess it shouldn't be so difficult. Sort of.

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Thanks kcurie! I like good news...we need more of it, especially lately...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri May 5th, 2006 at 02:52:20 AM EST
yes, not bad to have some of them once in a while.

At least in Spain...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri May 5th, 2006 at 04:13:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
NOT REFORMS..THEY ARE AGREEMENTS!!!

Brilliant, that's exactly what we need!

Why is it that the Spanish are so reasonable about this?

Some detailed points:

  • Barcelona FC is not Spanish but Catalan, and as such is also supported north of the Pirineus hehe;
  • by "formation contracts" I understand you mean "training contracts" (non-Romance-language speakers may not get it);
  • payback to workers fired (severance pay) is currently 45 days a year worked? That's a lot higher than in France, for example (no better than 3-6 days a year). Why don't the pundits talk about the crippling cost of firing an employee in Spain? (no, not a serious question...)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 5th, 2006 at 04:38:43 AM EST
great questions!!!

First... barcelona is one, great in the universal.. he hehehe...also catalan
Second, yes training contracts...my translation is awful....yuppps

Severance pay is currently 45 for general contract, yes if you have a fixed contract. There are some type of contracts in some areas where the severance is 33 days per year. And of course, most companies cheated using temporal contract instead of fixed. The new agreement sets that any transition from temporal to fixd contract can get the 33 days per year at least for two years. So companies will have to choose, try to keep on cheating by changing the person hired every year or picking up the 33 days contract. Another option is to pretend that it is a training contract ...for more than 30 months? I guess you can see how difficult it will be to cheat. And probably, those companies that can cheat in this situation is because the type of work is such that no particular training or future perspective can be obtained in the job. So job where you just have to call making offers once every year..or cleaning a burguer..well this is exactly why the temporal contracts exist and they are useful. It is a pity that big companies have a set of jobs where the temporal contract is ideal. They could really afford to pay properly...but small companies badly need it so you just have to accept it...unles you set a big-companies temporal charge....not in Spain though.

All in all I always prefer a window where the companies that badly need it could cheat...and the big companies could be get caught very easily if they cheat.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri May 5th, 2006 at 06:03:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great answers, there are Barca supporters on Mars...

Broader question: where does the Spanish capacity, or tradition, for good, reasonable social negotiation come from?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 5th, 2006 at 06:12:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I dedicated the post below...and still is difficult to know.
I hope MIgeru and Man could give their take...I am not sure my explanation makes sense any more.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri May 5th, 2006 at 06:15:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ups, I forget to answer you about the rationality.

This new level of agreement and rationality is, even for spanish standards, very very high.

MIgeru Man and myself have been discussing why this level of rationality among unions and most of the bosses (fancy enough one of the most less rational element is the president of the Confederation of Companies and Bosses...but it seems nobobody cares about what he says).

I defended the opinion that the present generation of bosses arised during the transition in the 70's and the Moncloa pacts made a huge impact on them. See the diary on Spanish success

Unions and bosses decided that the best way to go forward was...agreement in rough times...and the number of rich and powerful people increased. They saw the benefits. And the average worker also saw the benefits. Every family suddenly owned a house, and every single family could eat properly...and for those having memory of the 50's this is a dream come true (my grandma can explain you what happens when you work as hell and you can not eat properly every single day)...so I guess unions also saw the benefits.

Even though...I do not fully comprehend this INCREASE in rationality since the lesson should typically fade away as time passes. So I may be completely wrong.

I hope other spaniards could give you their perspective.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri May 5th, 2006 at 06:14:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm going to be a little more cynical than kcurie and claim that the Spanish model of "social concert" is descended from Franco's fascist "vertical syndicate/union". In Franco's hyerarchical model of Spain, economic players were in a "vertical" relation (with the government on top and the workers at the bottom) and issues such as wages and employment conditions were negotiated within this "union".
Wikipedia: Sindicato vertical
At the very beginning of Franco's regime, wages were directly fixed by the state and only later could workers and employers agree upon their wages through this vertical unio. This organisation was the practical consequence of the fascist ideal for industrial relations in a corporate state. In it, all the workers, called "producers," and their employers had the right to choose their representatives through elections.

In this organisation, workers and employers supposedly bargained equally. Strikes were forbidden and firing a worker was very expensive and difficult, as the fascism had "bettered capitalism" and had "succeeded in harmonically balancing workers' and employers' interests". In reality, candidates for these elections had to be approved by the regime and all the process was heavily controlled, as fascism had a very interventionist policy towards the labour market: full employment for men, even at the expense of low wages or inflation, almost no right to work for married women and no unemployment benefits at all.



A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 5th, 2006 at 06:25:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And I am going to accept that probably you are right.... he he hhheheh Not necessarily though

It could indeed be int he blood of unions and bosses that they ahve to agree otherwise hell breaks loose...

But with Franco, bosses and unions had no say (except for the bosses of the regime that we all know), now the government basically stays out of the game.

HAving said that, the government also acts like a little bit Franco saying that if they do nto reach an agreement they will force the reforms...

so in a  way there is a symbolic pattern there...

But if you are not so cynic you would probably accept that the scheme was set by Franco and unions and bosses changed a little bit the scheme...to obtain excellent results..

Agains just opinions...it could be just...luck? education? something more deep? orthe things we are pointing out.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri May 5th, 2006 at 06:33:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is true that when the government tries to ram through a labour reform without a prior agreement between unions and employers, there are big labour actions, including general strikes.

Felipe González thought he could get away with it and the general strike he provokes led to the divorce of PSOE from the UGT union [it used to be that UGT membership was required for PSOE membership].

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 5th, 2006 at 06:39:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It was probalby the first strong strike..and hopefull the big last one...although I think PP also had one general strike...the difference is that PSOE did not backpedalled and PP  (Rato, the economic minister during Aznar governemnt and now the IMF president) decided to step back...More proof that if Aznar and Rajoy would have listened to Rato more often  and not only on the economic truf, they would not be out in the wilderness right now, probably.

Having neocon friends is difficult.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri May 5th, 2006 at 06:45:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Aznar's general strike was against the decretazo (a reform of unemployment benefits by government decree — analogous to a US Executive Order I suppose).

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 5th, 2006 at 06:50:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I get the feeling that Zapatero is significantly to the left of Gonzalez which is of course in direct opposition to the rightward shift of leftist parties in most parts of the west.

Spain is in the midst of the period of private socialism where companies and unions all seem to agree that labor peace is preferable to domination.  And Spain has much better growth than the rest of the west, and that wealth is being distributed equitably.  It's almost as though there were some sort of lesson here.

Like in the long term, the only way to save capitalism is to practice private socialism agreed to through negotiation between representatives of labor (elected by unions) and capital.  And in the long term, I think that a return to this state of affairs is inevitable as China and India develop.  There seem to be a lot of lessons abut how to change China from being oppresive to working people in the way that Spain developed a civil society before it became a democracy.  

Alas, in the long term we are all dead.  What, if anything can be done to move this process forward?

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri May 5th, 2006 at 11:31:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spain's growth is fuelled by an asset bubble. The consensus (of Solbes and his predecessor Rato) is that the fundamentals are not good despite the strong growth. Zapatero is notorious for his lack of knowledge of economics. There was an embarrassing incident when Zapatero was in opposition: the mikes were left on and Jordi Sevilla (currently Minister for Public Administration) corrected him and told him "I can teach you [what you need to know about economics] in two evenings". (Zp-unfriendly link) I have heard rumours that Solbes is uncomfortable and wishes to leave the government because of disagreements with Zapatero on economic policy.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 5th, 2006 at 11:43:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There were three pillars of Franco's fascist state: "Family, Municipality and Union" (meaning: vertical union).

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 5th, 2006 at 06:40:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This and what you say above reminds me of Vichy France's corporatism (unsurprisingly). There too, they claimed to be bringing about ultimate harmony between workers and bosses within a vertical framework.

You could say Pétain's state didn't last long enough to leave an imprint. Yet in terms of industrial management and the technocracy it did, to some extent. In terms of mental structures favouring social negotiation, zilch.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 5th, 2006 at 08:12:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're absolutely right that this is a direct descendent of the Francoist system, but then the CCOO (Communist trade union organization) was infilitrating the syndicalist union by the 1950's, and in by the time Franco died there was a recognition that it coexistence was needed to keep the piece.  

The transition came, and there was a strong civil society in place, with the CCOO and the UGT (the socialist trade union) already representing workers through the offical state unions.

The CCOO has a shorter history than the UGT, having developed out of locally organized groups of workers that functioned both legally and clandestinely during the Franco dictatorship. Reforms enacted in the late 1950s allowed for the election of factory committees that rapidly evolved into permanent bodies representing the interests of the workers. Although the founding members of this new labor movement were independent socialists and leftist Roman Catholics as well as communists, it was the PCE that emerged as the dominant force within the movement; the majority of leadership positions were held by PCE members.

As these workers' organizations, called commissions, grew in strength and began to proliferate, the Francoist authorities cracked down, outlawing them in 1967. This did not stop their activities. By the time of Franco's death, the CCOO was the dominant force in the labor movement. It subsequently declined in strength, in part because of the PCE's decreased electoral support and the concomitant ascendancy of the PSOE.

Like the UGT, the CCOO was organized into federations of workers, based on the type of work they performed. These groups were in turn linked together as confederations in territorial congresses. A national congress met every other year. The structure of the CCOO was more centralized than that of the UGT; decisions made at the top were expected to be carried out throughout the lower echelons of the union.

The CCOO claimed to be politically independent, but the union had strong historical links with the PCE, and its important leaders were also prominent communists. Communist ideology prevailed, although the union began assuming a tactical distance from the PCE in the 1980s, as the party became weakened by internal divisions and lost support at the polls.

The UGT made no effort to de-emphasize its links with the PSOE. Both union and party frequently reiterated their common aspirations, although there were disagreements between them as well as within their respective organizations. The political ties of both the UGT and the CCOO were salient factors in the rivalry that existed between the two unions.



And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri May 5th, 2006 at 11:11:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, FC Barcelona winning the league two years in a row has nothing, but nothing, to do with Zapatero being a supporter and in power since two years ago...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 5th, 2006 at 08:38:52 AM EST
Absolutely nothing. It just one of those happy coincidences...he he he heh.:)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri May 5th, 2006 at 09:58:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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