1st of May| Mitxel Lakuntza : “For the wealth to be shared out, we need good agreements, not an Income Pact”

May 01, 2022
ELA will act firmly against the strategy set forth by Governments and employers’ associations to impoverish the working class: “Raising salaries is the solution; lowering taxes for companies is the problem”

Thousands of people have taken to the streets today, the 1st of May, convened by ELA in the four capital cities of Hego Euskal Herria, to celebrate the First of May and to share in the streets the demands upheld throughout the year in the work centres. Mitxel Lakuntza (General Secretary of ELA) took part in the Bilbao demonstration and he launched a very direct message aimed at bringing an end to job insecurity.

There are over 541,600 people with insecure jobs in Hego Euskal Herria: healthcare personnel who have one temporary contract after another, lorry drivers who have to work as the false self-employed, care home workers who earn less than 18,000 euros a year, researchers with trainee contracts, as listed by Lakuntza. And job insecurity is particularly damaging for the most female-dominated sectors: of the ten insecure jobs that we have been able to quantify, six are held by women. That is to say, there are at least 311,000 women holding insecure jobs in Hego Euskal Herria; with unstable contracts, working half-days and only just reaching the end of the month on their salaries.”

Lakuntza was clear about the rising cost of living: “If inflation has meant tightening our belts another notch, for those holding the most insecure jobs it has meant they have had to tighten them two notches. And all of this when in 2021 companies have obtained the highest earnings in their histories, particularly in the energy sector (Iberdrola earned 3,880 million). Meanwhile, the purchasing power in our pockets is reducing all the time: salaries in Hego Euskal Herria have lost 10% over the past decade (17% in the public sector).”

The General Secretary underscored the Governments’ responsibility on this subject: “The governments of Urkullu, Chivite and Sánchez continue without taking steps that are sufficient. They consider the rising price of energy as a cause for inflation, but they are charging water, wind and sun at the price of gas. The agreement reached with Brussels by the Spanish Government is also just a year-long stopgap.”

ELA puts the idea of defending salaries as its central aim for the First of May: “The Basque Government and Confebask consider it to be counterproductive to demand increases in terms of the CPI. But if the salaries do not go up at least in line with the CPI, this wealth will be accumulated in the companies. The governments do not want to share out the wealth with taxation and they just reduce taxes on companies, with the conclusion that currently Basque tax offices are receiving 1,000 million euros less than in 2007 through corporate income tax.”

ELA is not going to give up on either the CPI, or on a fairer salary balance: because losing purchasing power and dropping salaries mean increasing and extending poverty. Additionally, in the female-dominated sectors the increase in the CPI is not enough because there is an enormous wage gap and this needs specific steps to be taken. Defending salaries means improved sharing out of the wealth. “We don’t want any kind of Income Pact, but rather good work agreements,” Mitxel Lakuntza added.