June 16. 2024. 8:06

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Spanish government to increase minimum wage

Spain has decided to increase the minimum wage by 8% for 2023, meaning about 2.5 million low-salary workers will receive €1,080 gross per month in 14 payment installations, the government said Tuesday.

The increase “is not just another piece of information” but “makes it possible to change people’s lives,” Labour Minister Yolanda Díaz told a press conference in Madrid.

“The Spanish government is fulfilling its commitments (…) I feel very proud”, the minister added after the Council of Ministers agreed to increase the minimum interprofessional wage (SMI) for the year.

The increase will be applied retroactively from 1 January and was agreed upon only with the largest Spanish trade unions, UGT and CC.OO, after the employer’s association CEOE decided not to participate in the negotiations.

CCOO and UGT demanded a 10% increase, up to €1,100, while Díaz advocated the upper band of an expert committee’s report, which proposed a rise of between 4.6% and 8.2%.

The government’s spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, stressed that the increase fulfils the progressive government’s commitment to increasing the minimum wage to 60% of the country’s average wage.

The SMI in Spain has risen by 46.8% since 2019, with an initial 22.3% increase during the first term of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s government, as well as a rise of 20% during the four years of the PSOE-Unidas Podemos coalition government’s term in office.

In a recent speech before the Senate, Sánchez recalled the loss of purchasing power in Spain over the last decade, which he blamed on a lack of political responsibility and also on the private sector’s lack of “solidarity” with the working class.

The prime minister defended the increases in the minimum wage approved since he took office in the face of the “staunch opposition of the neoliberals”.

The SMI was created in Spain in 1963 when the rate was at a monthly 1,800 pesetas (some €10.8) and remained frozen for the following three years, it has since been updated annually, and sometimes, especially in cases of high inflation, twice a year.

Since 1980, after the approval of the Statute of Workers Rights, the SMI is revised annually after consultations between trade unions and employers’ organisations.

(Fernando Heller | EuroEFE.EURACTIV.es)