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José Ramón Pin Arboledas, Professor, IESE, University of Navarra

The 'Señorita Pepis' Pacts

Thu, 25 Feb 2010 11:54:24 +0000 Published in El Economista (Madrid)

In a modern Economics , unions are essential. In my classes at IESE Business School, meeting there are few supporters among managers and employers, but the conclusion is always drawn that they are a given in the business landscape. Moreover, they are useful to companies if they collaborate with management.

In Spain, this has been the case since the advent of democracy. The concertation agreements -unions, CEOE and Government- and the interconfederal agreements -unions and CEOE- are part of our system. However, there have also been disagreements with governments. At least one with the PSOE and another with the PP ended in general strikes. Their result: stop to the reforms by cession of the Governments, teaching that they have not forgotten. Everyone -right, center and left- thinks that a labor reform without trade union and employers' consensus would fail.

That is why public opinion is watching with such interest these weeks the meetings of CEOE, UGT, CCOO and the Government. However, it seems that they can agree on some things, but not the essential ones, which will remain on the periphery of the problem. The pseudo-union mobilizations against the pensionazo prove it. It is announced by the withdrawal of profound proposals by the employers to reactivate the Economics.

Faced with this paralysis, the President calls for agreement among the political forces. Something like the Moncloa Pacts, a desperate attempt to get to the bottom of the issues.

However, the process is far from happy. The main party of the civil service examination is dragged into the pact reluctantly. It cannot say no, and does not want to say yes. IU does not want to participate if the PP does. Other political formations are trying to take advantage of the Catalan elections and the autonomic or municipal elections of next year. As a "castizo" would say: they are the Pactos de la Señorita Pepis, a little doll famous a few years ago. It serves to play, nothing more.