The end of the validity of the main measures of support for the self-employed during the crisis generated by the pandemic, runaway inflation in the midst of negotiating the collective agreements, the skyrocketing prices of fuel and basic products and the numerous economic commitments with different groups with an expiration date of June 30 augur a panorama of labor unrest, layoffs and business closures in the midst of the start of the holidays. The announcements and warnings of mobilizations and strikes are already a reality in transport, which during March paralyzed half of Spain and stopped supply, but also in other sectors due to the conflicting proposals for salary increases between the majority unions and the Spanish Confederation of Organizations Business (CEOE).
At the end of November, the Government extended for another seven months the shields against the crisis that it had provided to freelancers and small businesses to continue keeping businesses open and guaranteeing employment, although not all were able to avoid closures and layoffs. The main measures envisaged were loans from the Official Credit Institute (ICO) to pay payroll, rent, supplies and/or suppliers, something that many have been able to put up with until now, in addition to direct aid to employed workers distributed by regional administrations.
Also on the last day of June the bankruptcy moratorium, an initiative that made it easier for companies in a situation of insolvency not to have to declare bankruptcy due to specific economic difficulties and that allowed formulas to renegotiate the debt avoiding bankruptcy. The end of this measure, if not extended, would trigger lawsuits in commercial courts, something that has been almost completely stopped with this alternative. Another option, even more unlikely, is to approve the new Bankruptcy Law – which has received hundreds of amendments – before ending the moratorium and thus avoiding an increase in lawsuits in the courts.
Labor conflict has been reactivated in 2022, after the minimum levels of 2020 due to the pandemic and 2021, due to financial aid
Meanwhile, labor conflict, which was in 2020 -due to the pandemic- and in 2021 -due to aid- at the lowest levels in a decade, with the lowest number of strikes since 2012 -the first year of statistics-, the number lower number of participants since 2015 and three times fewer hours lost due to strike than ten years ago, it has begun to reactivate in 2022, with the peak in March due to transport stoppages and strikes in the industry for wage reasons. However, everything seems to indicate that there will be an increase in protests in the second half of the year, motivated by the rising cost of living, for the non-repeal of the Mariano Rajoy labor reform or salary increases that do not even remotely compensate for the increase in inflation. This same week the Consumer Price Index for May was confirmed at 8.7% with fuel and food prices at all-time highs.
For his part, the minority ‘union’ of carriers, which managed to collapse the economy and practically the country in March with the aim that the administrations attend to their demands and the problems generated by the rise in fuel prices, do not rule out ending the current truce and ‘heating up’ the roads again, in full summer and with an increase in cars for the holidays. Thus, the Platform in Defense of the Transport Sector has threatened to reactivate their protests, which ended in April thanks to a package of aid to the sector, which included 20 cents per liter of fuel, if the Government does not implement the necessary measures to avoid working at a loss, a matter that they consider fundamental and the axis of their claims. In this case, the deadline is July 31 to approve the law, but the truckers are willing to mobilize even before that date.
The end of anti-crisis funds and measures, skyrocketing prices and supply problems anticipate a wave of layoffs and business closures
Meanwhile, the conflicts could also be transferred to the airports and affect the Spaniards who choose the plane as a means of traveling to their vacation spot. The cabin crew of the cRyanair company, represented in half a dozen unions, including the two most important Spanish ones – Sitcpla and the Unión Sindical Obrera (USO), have already warned that there will be a strike in the summer if the ‘low cost’ company does not pay attention to their demands for improvement of Labor conditions. Workers strike threats occur practically every year – in 2019 if there were stoppages in August and September – and coincide with the summer dates. The precariousness continues to be an issue to be resolved by the company, which has managed to agree ‘in extremis’ with the Workers’ Commissions (CCOO).
Along with this worrying panorama, there are already many companies of all sizes and sectors that have layoffs in mind to face the new situation, already without basic aid and in a context of skyrocketing prices, the unstoppable increase in energy costs and major supply problems, generated by the conflict in Ukraine. Large companies already resorted in 2021 to Employment Regulation Files (ERE), Even with current measures such as ERTEs, and despite the fact that the worst of the coronavirus crisis has passed, the economic moment that companies are experiencing is far from positive due to the effects of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the crisis with Algeria, which may cause the end of the gas supply through that route or. At the very least, its increase.