The “Yolanda effect”: labour inspectors strike for the first time in their history

YolandaDiaz

The Labour Inspectorate has been the latest collective to join the protests of public employees – those of employees of Social Security, the Public Employment Service, the Tax Agency, the Health Service, the lawyers of the Justice Department… -The government has failed to comply with the agreement signed in July 2021, in which it promised to solve the serious staff shortages and the lack of professional careers in the agency.

There are currently some 2,200 active inspection workers and another 800 support staff; in other words, the Labour Inspectorate is responsible for a workforce of 3,000 people for 20 million Social Security affiliates, 1.4 million companies and 10 million pensioners. “The Ministry of Labour and Social Economy has to stop launching triumphalist messages and undertake structural solutions or the Labour Inspectorate will collapse”, warn the unions, who also regret that in 2022, 20% of the budget of the Inspectorate has not been executed.

The Social Security is also on a war footing due to the lack of personnel, which translates into a delay in the management of benefits and in citizens not being attended to in all communities, endless queues and delays in the granting of benefits -such as maternity leave or the Minimum Vital Income-. According to CSIF calculations, this body has a deficit of 7,000 jobs. In the final stretch of last year, there were rallies in Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona, and this Friday they will resume again in Seville.

The State Public Employment Service (SEPE) has lost some 3,600 workers and, although 1,500 temporary workers were hired during the pandemic, they were all dismissed afterwards, leaving the workforce stretched to the limit. They handle more than 47 subsidy payments and in some provinces there are delays of up to 2 or 3 months in the appointment and recognition of a benefit.

The lack of staff in the Tax Agency (AEAT) amounts to 5,000, which hampers its fight against tax fraud, warns CSIF.

In addition, the National Health System (SNS) has also risen up against political leaders for the collapse of primary care, the saturation of emergencies, the increase in waiting lists and the lack of professionals, something that citizens of all communities suffer directly. Strikes and stoppages have already been announced in Andalusia, Madrid, Catalonia, Navarre, Extremadura and the Valencian Community. According to data from the Social Security, the SNS shed 50,000 jobs between September and November, which is why a human resources plan is urgently needed.

From December 2020 to December 2022, the number of public employees registered with the Social Security grew by 126,799 people, but these net additions are not enough either for employees or for their union representatives. So the Labour Inspectorate, the Social Security, the SEPE, the Tax Agency, the Health Service and the Lawyers of Justice are standing up this January because of the lack of staff and poor salary conditions.

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The Corner
The Corner has a team of on-the-ground reporters in capital cities ranging from New York to Beijing. Their stories are edited by the teams at the Spanish magazine Consejeros (for members of companies’ boards of directors) and at the stock market news site Consenso Del Mercado (market consensus). They have worked in economics and communication for over 25 years.