The PNV-PSE agreement opts for cutbacks and greater job insecurity to face up to the Covid-19 crisis

Sep 15, 2020
In ELA’s opinion, the programmatic agreement signed between PNV and PSE-EE-PSOE to shape the new Basque Government is highly concerning. It lacks specific steps and the few that it includes do not respond in any way to the existing social needs (even less so in the framework of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic that we are living through), but rather they are announcing an increase in the neo-liberal policies applied in recent years.

For ELA the main conclusions that may be reached from the document are:

1. It lacks specific steps for most of the topics it covers. The 91 pages of the document are full of generalities, they announce plans and programmes, but say nothing about the contents of these.

2. Regarding the few things that are specified, everything points towards a continuity of the cutback policies and an extension of job insecurity in the public sector. Here are two examples:

• A reform of the GRI is announced in the terms of the Draft Law presented by both parties in the previous legislature, which they did not manage to carry out. It must be remembered that this draft law meant consolidating the cutbacks that today are being applied to the amount of the GRI, as the Law passed in 2008 is not being fulfilled, which sets this amount in terms of the Minimum Interprofessional Wage.

• The commitment to convene 4,000 places in EPOs in the Osakidetza in the 2020-2024 period is included. This amount is insufficient to even cover the retirements that are taking place in this sector, therefore it is merely an announcement regarding the intention to continue increasing job insecurity in Osakidetza (it has already reached 40%).

3. Continuist employment policies, covering fraud in hiring and the right of veto by the employers’ associations through the Round-Table for Social Dialogue. Plans against temporary and part-time contracts have been announced, but the idea of giving the right of veto to the employers’ associations at the Round-Table for Social Dialogue means endorsing the enormous fraud existing in hiring. It must also be remembered that the aforementioned Round-Table has rules that infringe upon the respect for the trade union majorities.

4. It refuses to reform tax policy. Even the OECD has just recommended an increase in taxes on wealth and capital. In a context in which the drop in revenue is now a reality, the agreement makes no reference to the tax policy in its programmatic commitments. The main Basque authority, the tax office, only appears just as a general mention in the introduction of the agreement, a mention that clearly implies that the Basque Government is going to refuse to push forward any tax agreements that are even minimally in line with the situation we are experiencing. For ELA this is very serious, as without a deep-seated tax reform, we are going to be impelled to use cutbacks, sooner rather than later, as happened after the 2008 financial crisis.

5. It refuses to have its own budget policy. The agreement also makes no reference to the need to end the situation framed by the Budgetary and Financial Stability Law, according to which the central government in Madrid sets the expenditure ceiling and the deficit and public debt limits of the Basque institutions. In this way, the central government in Madrid determines the Basque Government’s budget. The absence of this central topic for a Government’s action is another example of the complicity with the adjustment policies that this legal framework entails.

6. An absence of budgetary commitments for Health or Education. The chapters on Public Health and Education stand out due to the complete lack of connection to the Covid-19 crisis. A great deal of generalities, without commitments to any steps and without any commitment to tackle the necessary increase in the budget and in the material and human resources that must be devoted to these areas. The lack of steps in these fields is even more striking in the current context, and it is another example of the exhaustion of a management model that is trying to cover up the lack of action using propaganda.


7. No improvement in the Social Services System is being considered. For a long time now, ELA has been demanding the need to guarantee the coverage by law of the needs of dependence and care by a public, universal and free System. The current system is obviously insufficient, and this has been made obvious, particularly in the care homes for the elderly, by the coronavirus crisis. The government’s agreement only talks about maintaining what there is (“guaranteeing the existing provisions and services”) and the only reference that is made to the decree that regulates the care centres is to “regulate the agreement,” putting to one side the necessary conversion to public of the outsourced care services.


8. The fight against climate change does not go beyond a statement. The government’s agreement makes no mention of the need to transform the Basque production model, to ensure that it is in line with the social and ecological needs. In reality, it just continues along the same lines (for example continuing to promote the TAV or the Southern Basque Railway Line, the lack of specific steps for developing public transport and the interconnection of the different regions,…).


9. Moving the Emakunde out of the Lehendakaritza. In the government’s agreement this topic is not mentioned, but the new government structure has moved the Emakunde from the Lehendakaritza to the Social Policies department. ELA is strongly against this decision, as it goes against the need for the feminist policies to be transversal and they are at the heart of all government actions. Obviously, this does not mean that we endorse what the Government and the Emakunde have been doing on this subject in any way at all.


10. Industrial policy remains at the service of the interests of certain corporate groups. A strengthening of the public intervention in industry and in the strategic sectors is being refused. The references to “public-private collaboration” are endless, and an internationalisation model for Basque companies continues to be endorsed, encouraging their off-shoring, and in practice, declining their relocation, the need for which has also been made obvious with the Covid-19 crisis.