• SMI Trabajo threatens the CEOE: if it does not support a 4% increase in the Minimum Wage "it will pay the consequences"
  • Negotiation Treasury holds the key to a possible tripartite agreement to raise the minimum wage

The Minimum Interprofessional Wage (SMI) will exceed 1,300 euros per month for the first time in 2024, which will maintain Spain's position as the seventh country in the European Union with the highest minimum wage, only behind Luxembourg, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and France, according to Eurostat data.

Ten years ago, in 2013, Spain was already the seventh country with the highest minimum wage in the EU, and a decade earlier it was in eighth place, which means that our country has not improved relatively compared to the rest of the EU countries in the last twenty years, because in the others there have also been considerable increases.

When publishing information on minimum wages in the European Union, Eurostat classifies countries into three groups: one for those with a minimum wage of more than €1,500 per month – including Luxembourg, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and France, with salaries ranging from €2,508 to €1,747 in the neighbouring country; a second group for those with a minimum wage ranging from €1,000 to €1,500, which includes only Slovenia (€1,203 per month in 2023) and Spain, which will remain in this group despite the increase expected for this year; and a third with countries where the minimum wage does not reach one thousand euros. In the latter are all the others, with Bulgaria being the EU country with the lowest minimum wage, less than 400 euros per month.

Since 2018 when Pedro Sánchez arrived at the Moncloa, the Minimum Interprofessional Wage has risen by 46.76% in Spain, going from 735.9 euros in fourteen payments to 1,080 euros, but there are ten countries in the EU that have experienced a higher increase in the same period, so the classification has not changed.

In 2024, the minimum wage is expected to rise by at least 5%, to 1,134 euros in fourteen payments or 1,323 euros per month, since it is assumed that the CEOE and Cepyme employers' associations will not support the Government's proposal to raise it by 4% in a tripartite pact, having ignored its two sine qua non conditions: the modification of the De-indexation Law and the approval of contribution reductions for the agricultural sector to compensate them for the increase in costs derived from raising the minimum wage.

The unions have asked the Executive that, if the employers are not in agreement, the increase is consistent with the one it has approved for other minimum indicators, that is, that it is between 5% and 7%. "We ask the government for consistency: if the minimum contributory pensions have risen between 5% and 7%, if the minimum non-contributory pensions have risen by 6.9%, and if the Minimum Vital Income has risen by 6.9%, the Minimum Interprofessional Wage must be set in the same parameters," said Fernando Luján, deputy secretary of Trade Union Policy of the UGT, on Monday. at the end of the meeting held at the Ministry.

In the event that employers remain on the sidelines, the SMI could be between 1,134 euros in fourteen payments and 1,155 euros (1,323 - 1,347.5 per month), which would accumulate an increase in the last six years of more than 53%, more than triple the price recorded in the same period. since accumulated inflation since 2018 stands at 15.9%, according to data from the INE.

Pressure on employers

When negotiations began to raise the minimum wage for 2024, CEOE and Cepyme proposed that it be raised by 3% - in line with the wage increase recommended in the Agreement for Employment and Collective Bargaining - an increase that they would support as long as its two conditions were met.

Faced with this positioning, CCOO asked from the beginning for a 5% increase, while UGT gradually lowered its expectations since its initial request to raise it to 1,200 euros in fourteen payments.

Between 3% of the employers' associations and 5% of the unions, the second vice-president, Yolanda Díaz, proposed a 4% increase - halfway through - that would allow her to reach an agreement, but her Ministry has not managed to get the Treasury to agree to modify the Deindexation Law - something that the unions also supported - as demanded by CEOE. The bonus for agricultural companies did not have the approval of the union, so it is something in which Labour has not made any efforts.

"We have not achieved anything that we have asked of the government, so it would be strange for us to support an increase in the minimum wage one point higher than what we had initially proposed," employers' sources told EL MUNDO. Even so, CEOE and Cepyme are going to agree on their position internally with their associates and at the next meeting with the Ministry and the unions, scheduled for the end of the week, they will confirm their decision.

The ministry and the unions say they are hopeful that the increase can still be approved with a three-way agreement, but admit that from the beginning they have doubted the employers' true intentions to reach an agreement. Sources close to Antonio Garamendi, president of the CEOE, admit that he himself knew that his conditions were impossible to meet and that, deep down, he never wanted the agreement with a government that he has criticized a lot for its investiture concessions.

Faced with this situation, Labor is pressing. The Secretary of State, Joaquín Pérez-Rey, warned the employers yesterday that if they do not sign, the increase will be higher, more in line with what the unions are asking for, thus trying to pressure their leaders to convince the organizations that make them up that it is better to sign the lesser evil (a 4% increase) than to expose themselves to a stronger increase in business costs.

The search for the Mar Menor was precisely what led the CEOE to participate in the agreement to raise the minimum wage from 900 to 950 euros in 2020, in the face of union ambitions and on the part of the Government to take it to 1,000 euros. Although a higher rise was thus avoided, the agreement - and the photo of it, in which the then vice-president Pablo Iglesias also appeared - cost Garamendi a lot of criticism, even from within his organisation; something you might now want to avoid.

  • CEOE
  • Germany
  • Yolanda Diaz
  • European Union
  • INE
  • Minimum Wage
  • Wages