Editorial | From interim to fixed

When the Government approved the royal decree on temporary workers In the public administrations, the need to add support to validate the norm in Congress – it was saved ‘in extremis’ by one vote – already made it possible to foresee that the text would end up being modified with amendments during its processing as a bill. This week we have known one of the main novelties regarding the text published in summer: interns with more than five years old will become permanent without opposition. That is the agreement that the Government parties have reached (PSOE and United we can) with the PNV and ERC, necessary to unravel the stabilization law in the public function, with which it is intended to solve one of the paradoxes of the Spanish labor market: that the State is responsible for a good part of the temporality. The conversion from temporary to permanent unopposed represents a substantial change with respect to the initial proposal of the then Minister of Public Function Miquel Iceta -who did not contemplate it-, but maintains in essence the underlying objective, which is to combat the abuse of the temporality when there are no causes that justify it. Currently, according to the INE there is a 31% of workers with temporary contracts in the public sector, a figure higher than that of all wage earners, which is 26%. Not surprisingly, the highest rates of eventuality occur in the education and the health, two of the sectors traditionally hardest hit by lack of resources. The Government wants to reduce the temporary work in the Administration to 8%, a considerable reduction for which they are necessary exceptional measures such as the one that arises, as well as others also included in the royal decree, for example, limiting the time that an interim can occupy a position to three years.

According to the agreement reached last Thursday, interns who have occupied a position since before 2016 will be able to compete “only in the evaluation of merits.” Some merits that each Administration will define in an extraordinary call to regularize them. This may raise questions about the principle of free competition in public procurement, that is to say, that there is equal treatment and that there is no discrimination in the access of the rest of the citizens who would like to apply for the same place. However, it is also about repair injustice that a large group of workers (an estimated 300,000) have irregularly prolonged their interim situation, and in this case, the rest of the alternatives are insufficient. It is a necessary but difficult balance of interests.

The European Comission has repeatedly warned Spain against its high rate of temporary employment. Now, in addition, it has conditioned this demand on the European funds. Although it is true that for the Spanish economy, so dependent on tourism, it is appropriate to opt for temporary contracts in the more seasonal sectors, they are often used in excess. If this is questionable in the private sector, it should be even more so in the Administration. Waiting for the future labour reform -which will foreseeably include new measures to reduce temporary employment-, the Ministry of Labor is already embarking on a laudable race against illegal employment, through labor inspection. The results are visible: in October 15 days, more than 82,000 contracts were regularized to fixed. It would be inconsistent not to act with the same effort when the employer is the Administration itself.


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