The minister of Labour last Thursday, launched a challenge to the confederations of employers and trade unions to sign an agreement on a social pact that, in addition to the increase in the National Minimum Wage (NMW), has also associated with other aspects, such as collective bargaining or the fight against precariousness. The response of the social partners ranged from the availability of representatives of industry and of the UGT, the country’s trade and the distrust of the CGTP.
The proposal was left by Vieira da Silva in the first meeting of the Permanent Commission for Social Dialogue to discuss what should be the increase in the minimum WAGE next year.
"The Government wants to promote a settlement of the middle term with the social partners. The goal of the Government, do not hide, is to get 600 euros at the end of the legislature, to say more than that this time would be conditional upon the possibility of an agreement", said the minister from the end of the meeting, which lasted little more than two and a half hours.
The idea, she added, is that the eventual agreement could have, in addition to the evolution of the NMS, the commitments in other areas related to the salary, giving as an example the collective agreements and the legislation that regulates the precariousness.
Vieira da Silva refused to say that caveat emptor – tax, or economic – could put on top of the table, so to convince the bosses to sign the agreement. "Everything he said about the content of this agreement would decrease the possibility of it exists. Once you have the part of the partners in the manifestation of willingness to work in a medium term, the Government will make its proposals", he noted.
Of concrete values a little if you spoke up. The CGTP has reiterated his proposal of raising the minimum wage from the current 530 to 600 euros and UGT placed on top of the table 565 euros. The bosses do not put forward any proposal.
The minister of Labour referred only to the goal of 600 euros in the end of the legislature, avoiding to say if the starting point of negotiations for the next year are the 557 euros foreseen in the program of the Government and agreed with the BE and the PCP.
"Even if the value were exactly the same, is not the same thing it derive from a decision of the Government or derive from a decision of the Government, supported by a decision of the social partners," said Vieira da Silva.
"we Know what we want and where we want to go, but we are also available to listen to proposals that can enrich the approach and make a decision of the consultation on a positive factor and of social and economic stability and predictability of costs," he added.
And there will be conditions to make an agreement for medium term? The UGT says clearly that "there is availability in the mental and psychological of all", but it requires to know the value that the bosses are willing to accept in 2017.
The Business Confederation of Portugal (CIP) is also available for an agreement which does not let the partners "hostages of parliamentary initiatives”. Places, however, tags: "that contains such matters as the non-reversibility of some of the measures" and that "ware the actual situation of enterprises and the sustainability of the economy".
Antonio Saraiva, head of the CIP, leaves a warning: "The economy does not support an increase to 600 euros in 2017", as proposed by the CGTP.
Already the president of the Confederation of Trade and Services of Portugal (CCP), João Vieira Lopes, is open to dialogue. Although see as "very difficult" an agreement of medium-term, "because there is a scenario agreed by the Government, with its base of support in parliament".
The ball, he says, is on the side of the minister. "Desafiámos the Government to say what measures you can take that will lead the companies to accept to increase the NMW above" the growth of the economy and inflation.
Already the CGTP does not trust in this attempt of the agreement and argues that the essential is to know the proposals of the bosses. "Do not commit ourselves to a process in relation to which we do not know what the availability of employers to increase the minimum WAGE," said the secretary-general, Arménio Carlos.
If there is scope for an agreement in the medium term, the minister has put two more hypotheses. Or the partners agree that only the increase for 2017 – as it happened in 2016 – or so the Government takes the decision without any agreement, something that would not be unheard of.