SPAIN’S government has agreed to increase retirement pensions by 0.25% – the legal minimum – and the minimum wage by 8% from its current €655.20 a month for a full-time, 40-hour-a-week job to €707.70 a month.
President Mariano Rajoy, of the right-wing PP party, says the minimum wage hike is ‘the greatest in 30 years’ and is ‘thanks to the country’s improved economy’.
Pensions are required to go up by a minimum of 0.25% a year and a maximum of the rate of inflation, or IPC index, plus 0.5%.
Current figures show the highest contributory State pensions now sit at €2,573.70 a month and the average is €1,500, or 93% of the average gross salary in Spain.
But the figures are skewed by very high earners in both cases – mostly, the average monthly State pension in Spain ranges from about €620 to €1,200, depending upon region.
The 0.25% rise – which is all that has been applied for the past three years – also applies to non-contributory State pensions, which is a varying monthly sum of around €250.
Pensioners’ associations and unions call both increases ‘insufficient’ and has accused the government of ‘ignoring social dialogue’.
Spain’s largest unions, the labourers’ commission (CCOO) and general workers’ union (UGT), had both called for pensions to go up by 1.2% in 2017 and the minimum wage for a full-time job to rise to €800.
A European Union regulation now requires that the minimum wage in all 28 member States be at least 60% of the average full-time salary, and Spain had pledged to honour this by the end of 2018.
In this case, the skewed figures artificially inflating the average employee’s salary to €1,613 before tax – around €1,290 to €1,370 net – prove advantageous to the growing number of workers on the minimum wage, since the 60% comes in much higher than if the most commonly-paid salary, typically about €1,000 a month, was used as a benchmark instead.