Ignacio Marco-Gardoqui: Goes for 35.88%



The second vice president has taken very little time to start repairing the deterioration of her image caused by the bizarre approval of her labor reform. Today he announced the opening of a new negotiation, this time to raise the minimum wage. And he did it, in a curious way, advancing the final meaning of it. So more than a negotiation to decide, it will be a table to find out about the decision. I don’t know if any of those summoned will go, because it is enough for them to read the newspaper, listen to the radio or watch television. The increase will be of the order of 3.2% and will place the SMI at 1,000 euros, a magical figure that coincides with union demands. At first glance, 3.2% is half of the accumulated inflation to December, so it seems a sensible and prudent measure, not exaggerated.

That’s the good thing about using the ‘sausage’ technique. The one that proposes cutting problems into slices to make them more digestible and less indigestible. The problems appear when we do the total sum and we see that, including this proposal, this government has raised the minimum wage by 35.88% since 2018. And that is not innocuous, although many believe it to be so.

All part of a wrong approach to the problem. Salaries do not depend only on the will of the government, nor on the wishes of those who receive them. It’s a real shame, because if that were the case, we would have to be more ambitious and raise them twice as much. Or, even better, triple. What would be wrong with it? Mrs. Díaz affirms that her proposal falls between what the unions are asking of her and the current level. Well, if that is the correct method for these types of issues, the unions have made a mistake. They should have ordered much more and the average would be higher.

The bad thing is that, in reality, salaries depend on things as gross as the productivity of the work carried out, the profitability of the company and the alternatives of those who pay them. It should never be forgotten that the government can force people to hire in a certain way and pay certain salary levels. What you cannot do is force anyone to hire. So the employers, or the self-employed or the families who hire people who collect the SMI will do their accounts and decide if they are interested in paying it or if they prefer to reduce hours or cut templates. This, aggravated by the traction effect that the SMI has on the immediately higher wages, which are many. Every day more, with these rises.

And then there is the territorial issue. The idea was to place the SMI at 80% of the average salary and there are several CCAAs in which it has long since exceeded it. Surely it is a social injustice, but 1,000 euros in Pinofranqueado is not the same as 1,000 euros in Pozuelo, although it may seem so from a distance.

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