Pay and work–life balance central to new agreement at Mercadona

A new collective agreement has been reached at Spanish supermarket chain Mercadona covering the period from 2014 to 2018. The deal was reached between the company, which employs more than 70,000 workers in Spain, and unions UGT and CCOO. The agreement guarantees a minimum monthly wage of €1,260, a pay increase of 0.4% in 2014, and measures to ensure employees enjoy a better work–life balance. The supermarket has also pledged to create 1,000 open-ended jobs over four years.

Background

The supermarket chain Mercadona is one of the biggest in Spain. It has stores in 46 provinces in 15 autonomous communities. It employs more than 70,000 employees, most of them with open-ended contracts.

Since 2008, Mercadona has taken on around 14,000 employees with open-ended contracts according to the Business Monitor of Corporate Reputation (MERCO).

According to both the company and the unions, the expansion of the business was helped by the application of the previous collective agreement. Positive outcomes from the previous deals led to constructive dialogue between the company and the unions. The renewal of the collective agreement was signed in November 2013 by the company and the General Workers’ Union (UGT) and the Trade Union Confederation of Workers’ Commissions (CCOO).

The agreement came into force on 1 January 2014 and will be valid until 2019.

Main content of the agreement

The collective agreement guarantees a minimum monthly wage of €1,260, which is relatively high in the traditionally low-paid retail sector. The deal also includes wage rises ranging from 0.4% in 2014 to 0.8% in 2018.

The agreement addresses work–life balance. It extends opportunities for part-time work to parents with children up to the age of ten – current legislation covers parents with children up to the age of eight. It gives parents with children aged eight and under the ability to take unpaid leave – current law only gives this right to parents with children aged three and under. The unpaid leave available to an employee affected by gender violence is extended to three years instead of the two allowed by law.

The agreement also includes a commitment by the company to create at least 1,000 open-ended jobs over the next four years.

Working time is set at an average of 40 hours a week over the course of a year. Those hours can be irregularly distributed by the company to adapt to demand. Other working conditions stipulated in the previous collective agreement remain unchanged.

Reaction from the company and unions

Mercadona says the collective agreement will provide the company with the stability needed to achieve the mid-term and long-term goals of the group. Francisco Aparicio, Director of the Mercadona group’s Labour Division, said the agreement would enable the company to increase productivity and to achieve sustainable growth. He emphasised that the application of the previous agreement had allowed the company to increase its productivity by 8% between 2010 and 2013 and to create more than 12,000 jobs.

UGT and CCOO emphasised that the agreement would lead to the creation of stable jobs and ‘a better reconciliation of work and family life’. The unions said in a press release that the outcomes achieved with this agreement proved that real collective bargaining led to the consolidation of social and labour rights.

Pablo Sanz, NOTUS

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