Spain minimum wage too low: Council of Europe

The Spanish minimum wage of €648.60 ($730) a month is not sufficient to ensure a decent standard of living, the Council of Europe has said in a new report.

Spain minimum wage too low: Council of Europe
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Around 200,000 Spanish workers earn the country's minimum wage (SMI) which comes in at €9,079.37 a year. 

After seeing a freeze in 2014, the SMI was bumped up in 2015 — by €3.30 a month, with major unions describing the 0.5 percent rise as "unjust" and "insufficient" when it comes to regaining purchasing power lost during the country's economic crisis. 

Unions said Spain was falling down in terms of its obligations in terms of the European Social Charter, which recommends a minimum wage of 60 percent of the average wage.

That cut-off would see Spain with an SMI of over €900 a month: the average annual salary in Spain in 2012 was €22,726, according to Spain's national statistics agency, the INE.

Now the Council of Europe — a group which has no law making powers — has agreed, saying Spain's minimum wage "for workers in the private sector does not secure a decent standard of living".

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In the report on Spain's European Social Charter performance in 2014, the advisory organization also said the minimum wage for contractual staff in the civil service failed to secure that decent standard of living. 

In 2012, twelve in every 100 workers in Spain scraped by every month on €641 euros or less; a percentage which had doubled since 2004, INE figures show.

The Spanish minimum wage is almost the same as the Greek figure of €683.76 and below that of Italy (€880) and France (€1,430 before tax).

Portugal, with €565.83, is the only country in Western Europe with a lower minimum wage.

Germany in July introduced a minimum wage of €8.50 an hour.