The Government not only puts itself in profile before the employment regulation file (ERE) in Ford, but justifies that the company is going to get rid of 1,124 workers through early retirement from the age of 53 and incentive plans for reasons of flexibility. A decision that clashes flatly with the approach on which the pension reform pivots and that is based on the need to raise the labor force and delay the effective retirement age to guarantee the financial sustainability of the system.

Consulted about Tuesday's agreement, from different ministries of the economic area of the Government declined to make "assessments" on "internal issues of the companies". A silence that contrasts with the fierce criticism that members of the Council of Ministers have poured against other major business movements that have occurred recently.

Although the Minister of Social Security, José Luis Escrivá, did position himself yesterday when defending that the case of Ford would be "justified for reasons of flexibility". The architect of the pension reform said that there are fewer and fewer cases of this type and the effective retirement age is increasing (it goes from 64 years). That, he said, is the "right direction."

In any case, he asked to make "a reflection" on work among those over 55 years of age in Spain, with an activity rate lower than the European average, and stressed that in many sectors "the transfer of knowledge must materialize through labor and professional career relationships that require adjustments".

Precisely, the Minister of Economy in the Valencian Government, Rafa Climent, highlights the "contradiction" of approving early retirement at age 53 in full debate on the increase in the retirement age to make the pension system sustainable. "It's not good news that at age 53 a person stops working," he says. "If we are in the debate that people retire beyond 60, it is not positive if what you want is to rebalance the system," he insists, and more at a time when "administrations are fighting to get the maximum number of people to be working, join Social Security and contribute. " reports Noa de la Torre.

The truth is that, to date, Minister Escrivá has defended incentives for delayed retirement. They became, in fact, his workhorse during the negotiation of the first part of the pension reform with the bosses and the unions. He managed to introduce changes on delayed, early and forced retirement to bring the real retirement age closer to the ordinary one, with the aim of neutralizing spending and shoring up the accounts.

In parallel, within the framework of the negotiation for the design of the new ERTE mechanism – the one baptized as RED, which was born as a solution of internal flexibility and stabilization of employment after the shock of the pandemic – it was precisely Escrivá who defended that these processes should become a kind of bridge between companies to avoid, through training and requalification, that workers, especially the most veterans, fell into inactivity in the final stretch of their professional careers.

Maroto's warning

The non-positioning of the Government regarding early retirements in Ford contrasts with the statements of Reyes Maroto, then Minister of Industry, once this ERE was announced. Public aid to boost the electric transition of the automobile "is conditional on maintaining employment," he said.

The aid to which he referred is the European funds of the PERTE VEC (of the Electric and Connected Vehicle). In its first call, the multinational received 106.34 million. But he renounced them because the investments for the new electric cars that will be made in Almussafes could not be executed before mid-2025, as required by that plan.

Now, they could be delayed even until 2028, which is the new limit that will be set in the second round of the plan.

Industry sources told this newspaper yesterday that it is not yet known the impact that the ERE could have on aid, since that call is still being outlined. Also, what volume of employment was Maroto referring to? When the window of the second PERTE opens, the ERE will have been signed for several months and hundreds of workers will have left the company.

In fact, the layoffs will occur between May 2 and December 31, but it is foreseeable that they will occur much earlier since the incentive leave plan adds 40,000 euros for those who leave before July and 20,000 if it is before October.

The current candidate for mayor of Madrid also forgot the precedent of Seat in 2022. The company, together with VW and 60 other companies, make up the Fast Future Forward (F3) project, which will electrify the Landaben and Martorell plants and add a battery plant in Sagunto. The planned investment is 10,000 million.

After a final and controversial phase, the F3 project obtained 400 million euros from the first PERTE. And that after SEAT signed the new collective agreement that, among other measures, provides for the progressive extinction (non-traumatic) of 1,330 jobs. The argument is to adjust the Martorell workforce to the lower workforce that will require the small electric that are assembled there from 2025. No one from the government said anything, despite the fact that the agreement was closed in July and the bases of PERTE had been published four months earlier.

Perhaps because they know – and knew – that the electrification of the automobile will claim thousands of jobs in factories, although part will be compensated by other activities in the value chain. It was said by Wayne Griffiths, president of Seat Cupra, and warned by the then president of Ford Europe, Stuart Rowley, after assigning Valencia the new electric. So the former minister knew it when she visited Almussafes in February and said that they were working with Ford to present herself to the second PERTE, that it would cover "all her needs" and even that "she could opt for greater funds".

The intention is not to repeat the failure of the initial call, which allocated only 800 million of 2,975 million. Therefore, in addition to extending the deadline until 2028, the conditions will be made more flexible, admitting individual projects compared to the complex partnerships (with 40% of SMEs) of before. There will even be its own line for batteries, which will open earlier and provides aid of up to 350 million if they are located in areas of low income. This is the case of the Envision gigafactory in Cáceres.

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