Government cuts back job offers in public sector

The Spanish government cabinet has approved four royal decrees concerning the posts to be offered in the public sector in 2010. The limited replacement rate and the decrease in job vacancies compared with the previous year confirm the government’s commitment to austerity measures and to reducing expenditure on public administration staff. Trade unions in the public sector have criticised the cutbacks, particularly as job creation is currently a top priority.

Impact of austerity programme

The cutback in job offers in the public sector approved by the Spanish government cabinet, within the framework of four royal decrees, is a response to the objectives of the Austerity Programme drawn up by the general state administration and included in the Law on Sustainable Economy (ES0912039I). The austerity package, set out in parliament in December 2009, underlines the need to apply an adjustment of 5.7% of gross domestic product (GDP) until 2013 in order to achieve the balanced budget goals stipulated by the European Commission in Brussels. Among the restriction measures proposed, expenditure on public administration staff must be reduced by 4%, which is equivalent to limiting the replacement rate to 10% until 2013. This implies that only one in 10 of the jobs vacated by retiring public servants would be filled.

Following these guidelines, the Spanish government cabinet has approved severe cutbacks in job offers in the public sector in 2010. Thus, while 15,084 positions were advertised in 2009, only 1,989 new posts will be offered in 2010, representing an 87% decrease in new admissions compared with 2009. The government has estimated that this reduction will mean a saving of €280 million. These figures do not take into account job offers in the Administration of Justice (Administración de Justicia), determined by the Modernisation Plan of Justice 2009–2012, which intends to offer a total of 2,030 posts.

Prioritising parts of public sector

The new posts approved by the cabinet will cover 781 vacancies in the general state administration and 1,208 jobs in other public bodies such as the police and the army. Within the general state administration, the government has emphasised the need to give greater priority to certain parts of the public sector. The distribution of job offers has been established as follows:

  • institutions – 50%;
  • tax evasion – 12%;
  • research – 9%;
  • social order – 8%;
  • information technology (IT) organisations – 8%;
  • air and meteorological safety – 6%;
  • foreign offices – 3%;
  • civil service – 2%.

Other changes

Moreover, it is worth noting the additional reduction of positions allocated to internal promotion, which have been set at 660, compared with the 1,951 internal promotions offered in 2009. The government has justified this cutback by contending that the relative weight of positions of internal promotion has increased compared with those of free access to external candidates, rising from 40% in 2009 to 84% in 2010.

For the first time, the job offers in the public sector now include specific posts for people with intellectual disabilities. In addition, although no exact figures have been provided, the recruitment of workers on temporary employment contracts has been reduced.

Trade union reaction

The General Secretary of the Trade Union Confederation of Workers’ Commissions (Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras, CCOO), Ignacio Fernández Toxo, has voiced his opposition to the job cuts, arguing that these measures ‘have been taken at the risk of rendering public services utterly inefficient’. Furthermore, the Citizens’ Service Federation of CCOO (Federación de Servicios a la Ciudadanía, FSC-CCOO), representing public administration workers, has pointed out that the job cuts do not respect the replacement rate approved in the Law on the General State Budget for 2010. That law set a replacement rate of 15%, and not the 10% that has been applied. Overall, CCOO considers that any cutback in job offers in the public sector is inopportune at a time when the government should give utmost priority to the creation of new jobs.

The General Workers’ Confederation (Unión General de Trabajadores, UGT) has adopted a less critical position. The Secretary General of the Federation of Public Services of UGT (Federación de Servicios Públicos, FSP-UGT), Julio Lacuerda, emphasised the lack of public employment offers. However, he also downplayed the situation, highlighting that the general state administration has the lowest number of civil servants of all public administrations and bodies in Spain.

Finally, the Director of the Independent Trade Union Confederation of Civil Servants (Central Sindical Independiente y de Funcionarios, CSIF), Domingo Fernández, expressed concerns about the lack of agreement which has led the government to take this decision unilaterally. He also criticised the fact that job offers in the general state administration have been reduced without taking into account the fact that most resources are used by local and regional administrations.

Pablo Sanz de Miguel, CIREM Foundation

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