Tripartite agreement on employment and economic growth signed for Madrid

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In October 2004, the regional government and social partners signed an agreement aimed at improving employment and boosting economic growth in the Community of Madrid. The aims are to: move towards full employment; improve the quality, stability and productivity of work; increase the involvement of women in work and business (gender issues receive particular attention throughout the agreement); improve the reconciliation of work and family life; and enhance the competitiveness of the region.

An 'agreement for employment and economic growth in the Community of Madrid' (Acuerdo por el Empleo y el Crecimiento Económico de la Comunidad de Madrid) was signed on 7 October 2004 by: the government of the Madrid region, which is made up of the People's Party (Partido Popular, PP); the Confederation of Employers of Madrid (Confederación Empresarial de Madrid, CEIM), which is affiliated to the Spanish Confederation of Employers' Organisations (Confederación Española de Organizaciones Empresariales, CEOE); and the Madrid regional organisations of the General Workers’ Confederation (Unión General de Trabajadores, UGT) and Trade Union Confederation of Workers’ Commissions (Comisiones Obreras, CC.OO).

The agreement's measures will be funded by a budget of EUR 2,740.5 million over three years. It objectives are to: make progress towards full employment; improve the quality, stability and productivity of work; increase the involvement of women in work and business; increase the possibilities of reconciling work with family life; and improve the competitiveness of the region.

The Madrid regional government believes that the new pact will be a good means of boosting the competitiveness and economic growth of the region. For the employers, the accord highlights their commitment to concertation and dialogue. All the signatories agree that this is a valuable agreement, especially in that it places emphasis on the involvement of women and seeks to address their problems (ES0410202F). The key areas of action set out in the accord are summarised below.

Fostering vocational training

The agreement aims to orient training towards employment and to support continuing training in 'transversal' and horizontal skills. It includes:

  • the development of an integrated training system through a regional vocational training plan (Plan Regional de Formación Profesional);
  • the design of a new model of training management that is more effective and dynamic, while also being transparent; and
  • the development of an open and participative training system.

Employment policies

The pact provides for direct support aimed at generating employment and improving 'quality' in employment. This involves:

  • fostering sectors of potential growth;
  • support for local employment initiatives in which the social partners participate;
  • fostering hand-over contracts (contratos de relevo) - whereby an older worker approaching retirement switches to a part-time contract and a young worker is recruited part time and learns the job;
  • establishing a commission made up of the regional government and the social partners to examine temporary employment (ES0409104F) and subcontracting;
  • measures to guarantee the quality of public services in terms of working conditions;
  • in companies holding public contracts, defining the responsibilities of the employers, employment conditions guarantees and the rights of workers in cases of subcontracting (ES0212205F);
  • requesting companies awarded public contracts or those subsidised by the regional government to use the Regional Employment Service (Servicio Regional de Empleo, SRE) when recruiting;
  • reducing the level of temporary employment in the regional administration through a consolidation of employment;
  • establishing administrative criteria that prevent workers on open-ended contracts being replaced by temporary workers in the event of redundancy procedures (ES0311108T);
  • reinforcing the Labour Inspectorate (Inspección de Trabajo);
  • fighting the underground economy;
  • promoting the elimination of overtime in excess of the legal limits;
  • avoiding gender discrimination;
  • dealing with the situation of immigrants; and
  • analysing in a youth employment commission the legal situation of work linked to scholarships, work placement and/or university internships, articled clerks and research staff.

In terms of increasing the employment opportunities of people who find it difficult to integrate in employment, the agreements provides for:

  • giving priority to people at risk of exclusion in the selection of beneficiaries of training and employment programmes;
  • increasing flexibility of work organisation to foster the integration of people with special difficulties;
  • favouring the transition from 'integration jobs' to ordinary jobs;
  • increasing combined employment and training programmes; and
  • drawing up a specific employment plan for people with disabilities.

Unemployed people will be given greater assistance through the new Regional Employment Service and the drawing up of a 'service charter guaranteeing the rights' (Carta de Servicios de garantía de derechos) of the unemployed. Among others measures, there will be a better dissemination of training, improved quality in training, and personalised advice on integration in employment.

Greater participation of women

In line with the targets of the EU's Lisbon strategy (EU0004241F), it is aimed to increase the female employment rate in the region to 60% in 2010, improve equal opportunities for men and women, increase women's access to management posts and increase the number of women among new entrepreneurs. Specific measures include:

  • positive action giving priority to women in offers of employment made by the Regional Employment Service, if applicants are equally qualified;
  • support for female recruitment in male-dominated sectors;
  • fostering employment for women who have family responsibilities unshared with others;
  • for women who are subject to domestic violence, measures to improve access to employment and take full account of their circumstances;
  • support for training women after a period of absence from the labour market to take care of children and dependants;
  • intensified training actions for women in occupational areas in which high-quality employment may be generated;
  • support for training programmes for women in management, responsibility and decision-making in trade union and business spheres;
  • analysis of female recruitment and adoption of measures to avoid high rates of temporary or part-time employment;
  • an annual study on the situation of women in the labour, social and family terms;
  • giving women a special place in a 'support plan for entrepreneurs' (Plan de Apoyo a los Emprendedores);
  • fostering gender equal opportunities projects in the framework of the EU equal opportunities initiative, with the support of the social partners;
  • developing training modules for the management of trade unions and companies on equal opportunities for men and women;
  • including a report on the gender employment impact in all regulatory projects, incorporating positive action measures; and
  • disseminating information on court rulings relating to equal opportunities and treatment from all across Spain.

Flexibility and reconciliation of work and personal life

At present, more than 1 million women in Madrid are employed in a job, profession or business activity. The female employment rate is 7 points above the national average and 1.5 points below the EU 15 average. In 60% of Madrid households with two or more members of working age, at least two people are in employment. In this context, the agreement seeks to improve the infrastructures for the care of dependant persons and the organisation of working time to make work organisation more flexible, favouring female employment through the reconciliation of work and personal life.

More options will be provided for reconciliation of work and personal life through:

  • information dissemination and awareness-raising aimed at men to foster the reconciliation of work and personal life and a fair sharing of housework and care of dependants;
  • preventing court cases based on Law 39/1999 on the reconciliation of work and family life (Ley 39/1999 de Conciliación de la vida laboral y familiar) (ES9911165F) by promoting flexible structures of dialogue and mediation between workers, their representatives and companies;
  • raising awareness among companies, human resources managers and negotiators of collective agreements on the need to introduce flexibility measures that favour the reconciliation of work and personal life; and
  • establishing programmes of information dissemination, advice and training on flexible working hours and 'spatial' flexibility, types of leave, time management, hours of work and best practices.

Furthermore, the provision of collective care services for dependant people (children, people with disabilities and the elderly) will be improved (ES0211201N).

Other issues

Investment in research, development and technological innovation will be fostered.

Entrepreneurial values will be promoted through training and advice, while support will be given to self-employed workers (ES0403101N) and companies in the social economy.

In order to support industry and services, the agreement provides for:

  • drawing up an 'industrial map' of the region;
  • a plan for maintaining industrial sites, and rehabilitating and modernising industrial estates;
  • increasing the accountability of companies in restructuring or relocation processes, in line with the current legislation;
  • recovering grants and subsidies in the event of company relocations;
  • investing in infrastructures;
  • supporting regional retailing, promoting tourism, and improving the qualifications of workers in retail and tourism; and
  • setting up a permanent observatory for small and medium-sized enterprises, and financial instruments to support them.

The agreement also deals with training and employment opportunities for immigrants. The aim is to adapt the planning of the official employment quotas (ES0410203F) for immigrant workers to the needs of the Madrid labour market.

Finally, the accord also provides for the use or creation of various regional social concertation and dialogue forums, which will be given more funding and competences. These are:

  • the Regional Employment Service;
  • the Regional Employment and Training Observatory (Observatorio Regional de Empleo y de la Formación);
  • the Industrial Relations Council (Consejo de Relaciones Laborales);
  • the Labour Institute Foundation (Fundación Instituto Laboral);
  • The Vocational Training Council of the Community of Madrid (Consejo de Formación Profesional de la CAM, CFPCAM);
  • the Regional Institute of Professional Qualifications (Instituto Regional de las Cualificaciones Profesionales); and
  • the Economic Promotion Council (Consejo de Promoción Económica).

Commentary

The agreement for employment and economic growth in the Community of Madrid is the product of negotiations between the PP regional government, employers and the trade unions. It reduces the tension in a difficult relationship, achieving a text that is open but committed to some concrete measures in a complex environment. It includes a clear wish to improve the employment conditions and opportunities of woman and consolidates the framework of relations between the social partners and the regional government. (Daniel Albarracín, CIREM Foundation)

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