A court decision last week in the Basque Country could have a profound effect on labour relations nationally. The Basque court's decision draws on a ruling by the European Court of Justice in September regarding temporary and permanent employment contracts. Essentially, this gives equal rights when a contract is terminated.
There has been no impact of this ruling in the Balearics as yet, but the UGT union is planning on launching a campaign to let temporary workers know that they should receive higher compensation. The union says that there have been more than 300,000 temporary contracts in the Balearics this year.
The Basque case had to do with a research worker who received the equivalent of twelve days (per year) compensation at the end of a three-year contract. This was taken to the courts, and the Basque High Court has now ruled that the person concerned should receive the equivalent of twenty days for each year of the contract.
The European Court of Justice has concluded that Spanish law is discriminatory, as temporary staff do not receive the same treatment as those on fixed contracts, who are entitled to the twenty days settlement.
Ana Landero of the UGT says that this should apply to both the public and the private sector; there are any number of interim staff taken on by public authorities. She suggests that some 15,000 of these temporary employees in the public sector could benefit as a consequence of the ruling in the event that an appeal is made to the courts.
The regional government, meanwhile, is studying cases which could be affected. The public administration ministry says that not all temporary contracts are the same.
The Balearic confederation of business associations (CAEB) says that there is some confusion and ambiguity because of the European and Basque decisions. It believes that it would be best to analyse the situation, noting that it is neither for nor against the outcomes of the courts' rulings. It supports a move by unions and the national ministry for employment and social security to study in-depth what the decisions mean and prepare a framework for dialogue that will ensure legal certainty for employers while also giving workers greater stability.
As far as the UGT is concerned, though, there is no issue. "Everyone has the right to the same compensation," insists Landero.
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