Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
License needed for work use Register



Cablegate: Spanish Elections: Labor Perspective

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

Sensitive but Unclassified. Please protect accordingly.


1. (SBU) With the economy doing well, unemployment is
nonetheless a prominent issue in the campaign for the March
14 general elections, and remains one of the principal
concerns of Spaniards. The Popular Party, having halved
Spain's unemployment rate from over 22% to 11.2% in eight
years, is portraying itself as the party of proven job
creation. The Socialist opposition and the unions,
particularly the UGT, are focusing instead on the precarious
nature of some of the new jobs. They emphasize that 31% of
the jobs in Spain are on temporary contract, more than double
the EU average. The other major national union
confederation, CCOO, has been more muted than the UGT in its
criticism of the PP. PP candidate Rajoy promises two
million new jobs by 2008 and full employment, with a 6%
unemployment rate, by 2010. While the unions do not
formally endorse candidates, the UGT has publicly allied
itself with the Socialists. End Summary.

UGT Views

2. (U) On February 5, leaders of the General Worker's Union
(UGT-traditionally allied with the Socialists), one of
Spain's two large union confederations, held a conference to
spell out the union's agenda before the March 14 general
elections. The leader of the Left Union (IU/Communist)
party, Gaspar Llamazares, and Socialist Party (PSOE) National
Coordinator Jose Blanco attended. The PP was reportedly
invited but did not attend.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

3. (U) UGT Secretary General Candido Mendez argued that in
the eight years of the Aznar government, the PP had
"squandered" Spain's economic growth and neglected social
spending. Mendez drew particular attention to the fact that
31% of Spanish workers are on temporary contract, a figure at
least two times above the EU average. Mendez said many of
the jobs created during the PP mandate were "precarious" and
lacking in benefits. Workers in such contracted jobs are
under-trained, over-worked, and prone to work-related
accidents, Mendez said. Mendez said this precarious
employment exploits workers and ultimately lowers Spain's
competitiveness. Mendez also criticized the Aznar
government for under-investing in research and development in
new technologies. Mendez argued that much of the job growth
in the PP years was due to growth in Europe and worldwide,
rather than to PP policies.

CCOO Views

4. (SBU) Comisiones Obreras (CCOO ) originally allied with
the Communist party but now independent and center-left)
union officials share UGT's concerns on the need to shift
more workers from temporary to permanent contracts.
However, CCOO representatives noted to us that it was the
Socialist government of Felipe Gonzalez, rather than the PP,
that had set up the rules governing temporary workers in the
first place. It is, they say, therefore disingenuous for
the Socialists to criticize a system that they set up. CCOO
reps were more impartial in their party preferences and told
us that CCOO can work with the PP as well as PSOE. If the
PP wins, CCOO would prefer that it not be by absolute
majority. They believe that the PP was more flexible and
open to dialogue in the first Aznar term, when was forced to
compromise to hold its coalition together.

5. (SBU) CCOO reps were also critical of the PSOE economic
plan. They regard Socialist candidate Zapatero's proposed
tax policy as regressive, especially considering he is from
the left. They also do not see the budget numbers adding
up. Zapatero has pledged to keep close to a balanced
budget, but CCOO sees PSOE pledges for greater spending
combined with tax cuts adding up to budgetary problems.

PP Platform: Proven Job Creation

6. (U) Labor was a key issue in the electoral program the
PP unveiled at their February 14-15 National Convention. PP
candidate Mariano Rajoy promised 2 million new jobs by 2008
and a drop in the unemployment rate to 8% (from 11.2% at
present). The platform also called for reaching full
employment, which the PP sees as a 6% unemployment rate, by

Socialist and Left Union Views

7. (U) On the campaign trail, Zapatero has repeatedly
stressed the need to transform the precarious temporary jobs
into "dignified" jobs. The Left Union (IU)'s Llamazares has
made this a frequent refrain as well. Zapatero's proposal
to achieve this is to offer incentives to employers who offer
full-time contracts.


8. (SBU) The election campaign is occurring in the absence
of any generalized labor strife. (There have been isolated,
and at times violent, protests by redundant ship workers from
the Izar firm, but these are not election-related and not
typical of the overall labor situation.) While UGT support
for the Socialists is clear, UGT is not convoking workers out
to the streets to protest against the PP. After the general
strike of June 2002, the Aznar government backed off on labor
reforms and avoided antagonizing the unions. As a result,
while unemployment remains a key issue, the role of the
unions in the campaign has been, for the most part, marginal.


© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
World Headlines

UN News: Aid Access Is Key Priority

Among the key issues facing diplomats is securing the release of a reported 199 Israeli hostages, seized during the Hamas raid. “History is watching,” says Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths. “This war was started by taking those hostages. Of course, there's a history between Palestinian people and the Israeli people, and I'm not denying any of that. But that act alone lit a fire, which can only be put out with the release of those hostages.” More

Save The Children: Four Earthquakes In a Week Leave Thousands Homeless

Families in western Afghanistan are reeling after a fourth earthquake hit Herat Province, crumbling buildings and forcing people to flee once again, with thousands now living in tents exposed to fierce winds and dust storms. The latest 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit 30 km outside of Herat on Sunday, shattering communities still reeling from strong and shallow aftershocks. More

UN News: Nowhere To Go In Gaza

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said some 1.1M people would be expected to leave northern Gaza and that such a movement would be “impossible” without devastating humanitarian consequences and appeals for the order to be rescinded. The WHO joined the call for Israel to rescind the relocation order, which amounted to a “death sentence” for many. More

Access Now: Telecom Blackout In Gaza An Attack On Human Rights

By October 10, reports indicated that fixed-line internet, mobile data, SMS, telephone, and TV networks are all seriously compromised. With significant and increasing damage to the electrical grid, orders by the Israeli Ministry of Energy to stop supplying electricity and the last remaining power station now out of fuel, many are no longer able to charge devices that are essential to communicate and access information. More


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.