It was one of Sumar’s great campaign promises. Reduce the work day to leave work an hour before. And he is becoming a true Gordian knot in the negotiations with the PSOE for a Government agreement. Yolanda Díaz’s team considers that this is an essential measure, but denounces that the socialists are not even open to studying the issue. “There are some issues on which we are stuck. In particular, there is one issue, which is fundamental for Sumar, and that is the issue of reducing the working day,” the coalition spokesperson, Ernest Urtasun, said this Thursday in an interview on La Sexta.
Although as explained in Sumar there are some issues that are advancing in the negotiation between both parties, this Thursday they have increased the pressure in two ways. First, the second vice president stated in a press conference that they are negotiating with the PSOE to include a permanent tax on banks in that pact and, later, Urtasun revealed that one of the central issues is still stuck at that negotiating table. In the PSOE they refuse to give any type of information about the course of these conversations and ask their partner for discretion. “We do maintain the discretion, which we ask of everyone. It is the best way to bring this to a successful conclusion,” maintain socialist sources.
Negotiations have been ongoing since late July, days after the elections. But until now the focus has been on Junts and the drafting of an amnesty law for those prosecuted for the independence process. In the round of consultations that Pedro Sánchez had with the different parties, he agreed with Sumar to close the negotiation before the end of October. There are less than ten days left for that limit and there are issues that are still far away and the reduction of working hours without a reduction in salary, according to Sumar, is one of them.
The coalition defined this commitment in its electoral program for the general elections: “In 2024, a maximum working day of 37.5 hours will be established by law and a social dialogue process will be opened to continue reducing the working day until it reaches 32 hours per week.” However, Díaz’s team refuses to define a figure for this specific negotiation at the moment, which, according to what they indicate, the socialists have not even opened up to evaluating at the moment.
At Sumar they do not want to talk about “red lines” but they do place this issue as a priority for this agreement, since in the rest of the issues they notice certain progress. Díaz’s team places the importance of this measure at the level of what the labor reform meant during the last legislature, one of the great milestones of the Sumar leader’s management at the head of the Ministry of Labor. They remember that the working day has practically not been touched for a century and was only modified 40 years ago to reach 40 hours per week, not counting weekends. All this, they say, while work productivity levels have risen exponentially. In Spain, the working day of eight hours a day or 48 hours a week was established in a royal decree of April 1919, after the strikes that a few weeks before had paralyzed activity in different industrial companies in the country.
The vocation of Yolanda Díaz’s platform with this measure is to reorganize the uses of time for a better distribution of care tasks and so that workers can allocate more time “to training, leisure or social participation”, as stated. as they defend in their program. “Countries that reconcile better are more productive and that is in all the studies that the International Labor Organization has done, for example. Also because those countries that have reduced the working day have sustained an unemployment rate lower than the European average, as is the case in France, and therefore for us it is an essential, structural issue of this legislature,” Urtasun said this Thursday.
The measure does not have the approval of the Socialist Party despite the fact that UGT, its closest union, established it among its priorities for the new course. “We want the Workers’ Statute, which states that the maximum legal working day is 40 hours a week, to include 35 hours,” said its general secretary, Pepe Álvarez, in a speech at the beginning of September in which he outlined the strategic lines of the union for the next legislature.