Appointment with EL MUNDO Pepe Álvarez (UGT): "There is no attack, this government has watered businessmen"

The general secretary of the UGT, Pepe Álvarez, has denied this Thursday that the Government is attacking businessmen and has defended that during the pandemic it "has watered" the productive fabric of the country with public money

Appointment with EL MUNDO Pepe Álvarez (UGT): "There is no attack, this government has watered businessmen"

The general secretary of the UGT, Pepe Álvarez, has denied this Thursday that the Government is attacking businessmen and has defended that during the pandemic it "has watered" the productive fabric of the country with public money.

"I don't think there is an attack by the government on businessmen. It is not the same to talk about businessmen in general as to cite certain people to whom the president has referred. I think we should be licking some wounds, because the government has watered to companies in the country in an important way. During the entire covid process, for every euro dedicated to social policies there were five euros dedicated to the protection of the productive system in our country and that is what really matters to me and is of interest" Álvarez has defended in a meeting organized by EL MUNDO.

The UGT leader has attacked Ferrovial for its decision to move its headquarters to the Netherlands and has described as "insane" that the company alleges a lack of legal security in the country. "It is normal for the government to be extraordinarily annoyed that they allege these reasons. Ferrovial is leaving Spain with a temporary stop in the Netherlands with the prospect of going to the American market, which is where it has its business," he highlighted.

The loss of tax revenue derived from his departure, he has ironized, will not be "to start crying" either and has minimized the impact that the exit will have on the group's employment in Spain. "People will be able to leave the central offices, but not in the rest of the areas because they cannot be produced in the Netherlands: street cleaning, selective collection, the multi-service company or the construction that it does in Spain will not be able to do it there ".

"It seems bad to me because it is a company that owes everything to Spain, and it still seems worse to me that it has not been explained in these terms," ​​he has settled.

Faced with other criticism from the Executive of companies like Mercadona -the Minister of Social Affairs, Ione Belarra called Juan Roig a "ruthless capitalist"-, Álvarez has defended his work: "Put the focus on companies in our country that pay the best salaries in the distribution and commerce sector and that it has a social work of a certain magnitude in some communities does not seem correct to me", he highlighted.

On the contrary, he has criticized Carrefour for announcing that in France it will offer a shopping basket with 200 products at a regulated price and not doing the same in Spain: "Here they have not told us anything, so I understand that this purchase of the French are going to pay for it in part", he lamented.

The UGT leader has been optimistic about the possibility of reaching a consensus with the employers to renew the Agreement for Employment and Collective Bargaining (AENC), despite the fact that the proposal presented jointly with the CCOO has been rejected by the employers . The main drawbacks encountered by the employers' representatives are the period of time -reviews are proposed for 2022, when the agreements for that year are already closed- and the salary review clauses in accordance with inflation and business benefits -measured from a way that the CEOE questions-.

Asked about the possibility of linking these salary reviews to productivity, Álvarez has opened up to negotiating it: "You can propose it, we are not closed to being proposed to us. As it is an agreement and not an agreement, and then it is developed in each negotiation , there are chances of agreement. Since there aren't any, it's saying no, but putting proposals on the table is possible," he confided. Among the public, Antonio Garamendi, president of CEOE, who did not want to make statements to the media, and Miguel Garrido, president of CEIM and first vice president of the employers, listened to him.

The unions and employers' associations currently have different dialogue tables open that should crystallize into agreements as soon as possible, such as the pension reform table - which the Government should have approved before December 31 and which should see the light of day before of Holy Week - or the approval of the Scholarship Statute.

"In pensions we have no news, but the fact that there are no news does not mean that it is bad. I believe that we have had a very long negotiation process with the Ministry, it is true that the first pension agreement was simpler than this, and I think that It was also for businessmen, but it is true that it was necessary for the Government to come to the table with the real possibilities that the agreement has to advance.There are two determining factors: one is the European Commission, and we want the Government to come to the table with this subject quite advanced, and another is that it has a parliamentary majority to approve what comes out of the table", he explained.

The Ministry of Social Security is putting its efforts on these two fronts, it has held several meetings in Brussels and is negotiating at the same time with the political parties. The employers have been left out of the negotiation, but the unions hope that they will soon be summoned with a proposal that has these two guaranteed endorsements and can be approved before Easter.

For Pepe Álvarez, it is necessary for the agreement to arrive as soon as possible to "avoid a situation like the one that exists in France."

The general secretary of the UGT has taken advantage of his initial intervention to defend the impact that the labor reform has had on employment and, especially, on the stability that it has provided to permanent, intermittent workers. Regarding these employees, he has denied that their current situation is just as precarious, when it emerged this week that at the end of 2022 some 400,000 were in a situation of inactivity without counting as unemployed, according to this newspaper.

He recalled that his union was the first to ask the Government to report on how many discontinuous landlines are without work each month, since this contributes to a desirable transparency.

Álvarez has asked the president of the Popular Party, Alberto Núñez Feijóo to respect a reform that has been endorsed by employers and unions: "I ask Mr. Feijóo, with whom I have had a lot of relationship during his presidency of the Xunta and because we have mutual friends, that the PP clear up unknowns for the workers. That would help to go through an election process; if the labor reform has been carried out by the employers and unions, it does not seem reasonable to me that one of the parties that is called to govern doubts that reform".

He has also once again come out against the hiring at source that the Government is promoting for some sectors such as construction, which does not have enough manpower to face the challenges derived from European funds. He considers that what the Executive has to do is promote the training and hiring of the three million unemployed in the country.

"There are three problems: one, that the people who should occupy these positions, I am sure, in a very high part, do not receive the job offer; two, that we do not have guidance in the employment services precisely to train people in those specialties that are going to be necessary; and, three, because instead of going to look for people in any country, who at the moment are living more or less happily but who have no prospect of leaving their country, it is more productive to take the unemployed, train them and get them to work", he defended.

He has criticized the offices of the Public State Employment Service (SEPE), which have become "mere records", and has called for the Government to be tougher on the unemployed who reject job offers while they are signed up for unemployment. To this day, if an unemployed person rejects a position that is considered "suitable" for them, the SEPE considers it a serious infraction and penalizes them with 3 months without benefits, a sanction that Álvarez believes should be permanent.

"We will have to go one step further and if a person who rejects an offer, when they have been offered training so that they have the necessary qualities, if they are a person who is receiving a public subsidy, be it unemployment or the Minimum Vital Income, the country should consider whether it should continue charging it or not", he has sentenced.

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