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Ice cream strike leaves employers sweating

Workers at Spain's ice cream factories are downing tools on Friday as negotiations heat up with the industry's employer body.

Ice cream strike leaves employers sweating
Deep freeze: employees in Spain's ice cream factories want industry owners to prepare a "coherent" new collective agreement. File photo: Javier Rapoport/Flickr
Tensions between staff on the factory floor and the Spanish Association of Ice Cream Makers (AEFH) have been sticky for some time now.
 
Since June 28th, workers in a sector which counts among its members have been on a go-slow, switching off machines for two hours a day.
 
Now though, employees in an industry which directly affects from 2,000 to 3,500 jobs are ratcheting up the pressure on their employers.
 
A 24-hour strike is set for Friday, or just when much of Spain is experiencing its first real heatwave of the summer.
 
With 95 percent of staff having supported  previous strikes, participation is expected to be high, Spanish general union CCOO said in a statement.
 
The row between workers and the AEFH comes because of a stalemate over a new collective employment agreement for the sector.
 
The previous deal reached its expiry date at the end of 2010 and a new draft landed on the table in 2011 but talks have been in deep freeze since then.
 
If a new deal isn't struck soon, the bargaining process could come to a halt after new Spanish laws put a timeline on negotiations for new industry workplace agreements.
 
Workers in the sector are now threatening an indefinite strike if demands aren't met.
 

Unions including the CCOO and the General Workers Union, or UGT, initially forged a plan with the AEFH which would have kept the current workplace agreement in place until the end of this year.
 
But the CCOO said industry owners had treated that plan with "contempt".
 
"We are open to dialogue but not in exchange for making returning workers to the stone age," the union said in a statement.
 
"If they want to avoid this strike, they need to prepare a reasonable and coherent proposal". 
 
 

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ELECTION

This is how much you earn if you’re a Spanish politician

With a new intake of MPs preparing to take their seats in Spain’s 350-seat lower chamber of parliament, The Local takes a look at the salary, perks, and expenses afforded to the new governing class of 2019.

This is how much you earn if you’re a Spanish politician
MPs will take their place in Spain's Cortes later this month. Photo: AFP

The 350 lawmakers in Spain’s Congress will begin their accreditation process on Monday but won’t be officially sworn in until the new parliamentary session starts on May 21st.

There will be a lot of form filling in during which they will have to declare their assets and all business interests, past and present, in case they may represent a potential conflict.

The newly elected members can expect to draw a base salary of at least €53,200 a year with more for those not based in Madrid. Involvement on committees or taking an extra role within parliament also comes with added remuneration.

Salary

MPs in Spain are awarded a monthly base salary of €2,972.94 gross payable from April 28th – the day that they were elected.  Doesn’t sound like much? Well, that is just the base.

For starters, it’s paid in 14 monthly installments, a hangover from Franco’s time when the paternal state ensured the worker had spending money at Christmas and for a holiday in August.  Thus, public sector workers still get 14 payments a year with their bonus months delivered in August and December.

READ MORE: 

Living costs

On top of the base salary, each MP will be entitled to a monthly stipend for living in the capital. For those 36 elected on the Madrid list – and therefore presumed to already live here it’s €917.03 a month

For the remaining 314 MPs a living supplement of €1,921.20 on top of their wage each month

Extras for Congressional roles and committees

There are also added extras for those who take on a job in the Congress beyond that of MP.

Spokespersons of each parliamentary group are awarded an extra €2,819.97 per month.

Vice-presidents of the Congress, of which four will be nominated – will earn an extra €3,060.92 per month.

The highest paid role is that of President of the Congress – a role akin to that of Speaker in the UK’s houses of parliament which has an additional monthly salary of €9,651.04 – making it the highest paid position in the parliament.

Those who take part in committees are also awarded extras, although they may only claim for one committee even if they are take part in several.

Travel expenses

The bill for travel is also picked up by the parliament with transport tickets – rail, bus and air – charged directly to Congress.

Those who do not have an official car at their disposal are issued with cards containing credit for taxis in and around Madrid capped at €3,000 a year.

Parliamentarians who use their own vehicle can claim 25 cents per km on justified trips.

Perks

All new deputies will be issued with iPhones – brand new models were distributed to MPs in 2018 and those who retain their seats will keep their old ones, while those newcomers will be issued with the same models – apparently left over stock from the last legislature.

All members will be issued with brand new iPads as the ones last issued in 2016 are considered obsolete.

Code of Ethics

This year is the first time that MPs will have to conform to a new Code of Ethics in the name of transparency and to combat corruption.

In addition to declaring their assets and existing commercial activities, this new intake of MPs will have to make a third declaration listing their “economic interests”. These will include academic titles, links to lobby groups, a full list of all past economic activities with names of those with whom business was conducted as well as sector in which it was carried out.

Moreover, MPs must now declare any donations, unpaid gifts – including invitations to sports events, cultural activities or trips – from the past that could cause a conflict of interest in future dealings.

The new code also requires them to reject “gifts or benefits that may reasonably be perceived as an attempt to influence their behaviour”.

The information will be on public record and could be called into question in the chamber if “doubt is case on the objectivity and independence” of a member of congress.

What about the PM and other ministers? 

The salaries of the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers and secretaries of state are determined separately in the annual budget,

This year’s budget calculated that Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez be paid an annual salary of €82.978 euros, over two-and-a-half times the average annual salary of Spaniards (€30,292) but among the lowest in comparative terms in Europe, according to a 2018 study carried out by IG

Swiss President Alain Berset earns nearly €400,000 a year, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel take home an annual basic salary of around €300,000 – around eight times as much as the average salary in their respective countries.

British Prime Minister Theresa May earns €172,220 while Emmanuel Macron of France earns €178,924. The average wage in both UK and France is just under €35,000

Vocab list:

Salary: Salario, sueldo

income: ingresos, renta, sueldo

Expenses: Indemnizaciones:

Extras: pluses (from the English word 'Plus'

Travel costs: gastos de transporte

Members of Parliament (MPs): diputados

Chamber, Congress, Lower House of Parliament: La Cámara, Cortes, El Congreso

READ MORE ANALYSIS: It's time for Pedro Sanchéz to be bold and take a risk on Catalonia

 

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