Countdown to renew the Telefónica Spain agreement in the midst of the arrival of STC

In the midst of the emergence of Saudi Telecom in the shareholding with the purchase of 9.9% of the shares and just three months after the start of the centenary, Telefónica Spain has a countdown: the renewal of the collective agreement that affects the three main subsidiaries of the operator in the country and have more than 13,000 employees. It is valid until December 31st. The current text was extended for one more year. The company reached a final agreement for the salary review that implied an increase of up to 7.8% in the face of the strong rise in inflation. The long shadow of a casualty plan continues to fly over.

Before the summer everything was pending on what happened in the union elections. These comedians had stopped the conversations. The last thing that remained was a last vote to configure the intercenter committee at the national level. But in September an earthquake disrupted the foundations at the Las Tablas headquarters in Madrid. STC’s announcement of its investment in the company has left everything pending. The unions have not made any move and, precisely, they are waiting for management to provide information about this shareholder shakeup and the influence on labor matters.

Given this movement, CCOO assumed that this investment would “strengthen Telefónica in the markets” but insisted that they will be attentive to the decisions that are made. “We call on the company to provide adequate information about the steps that are taking place and their impact on the workforce,” he noted. For its part, UGT, the majority union, insisted that the incorporation of new shareholders “brings confidence and value” to the project. But he warned the leadership that it had to “confirm the validity of our model of dialogue, dialogue and consensus.”

The agreement is the first litmus test. And the landing of STC, which has been interested in the new strategic plan that will be presented in November at an Investor Day, could delay the deadlines for collective bargaining. It should be noted that the board of directors has not yet been formally informed of the move and the potential future consequences. The president of the operator, José María Álvarez-Pallete, has called an ordinary meeting on September 27, when all the information will be transferred. It will be from there when other pieces can be moved.

The current extended text includes a validity until December 31, 2023. The document will be automatically denounced on January 1, 2024, in the event that neither party takes sides. There are those who would welcome an extension, with some modification or agreement but that does not require a long negotiation. It must be taken into account that the centenary celebration will take place from the beginning of next year. The operator will obviously seek to maintain ‘social pax’ during that period.

This labor agreement is very relevant. It includes the three main subsidiaries with which the operator works in Spain: Telefónica de España, Telefónica Móviles and Telefónica Soluciones de Informática y Comunicaciones. Between the three of them, after all the adjustments experienced in the different sick leave plans, they add up to more than 13,000 employees throughout the country. Apart from the templates of these firms are those of the rest. After the last Individual Suspension Plan (PSI), the total team in Spain is around 20,000 employees, a historically low figure.

Beyond the extensions, what will have to be put on the table is the salary review. The extension that runs until December 31 of this year established an increase in the global theoretical wage bill of 1.5% on a consolidated basis. Added to this were the 300 ‘extra’ euros that will be paid in October. Starting in 2024, the real CPI for the current year will have to be analyzed. If it is higher than the agreed increase, both parties undertake to analyze it to compensate for it “and guarantee that there is no loss of purchasing power.” The annual variation rate of the CPI in August stood at 2.6%.

The friction with the call centers

The most immediate precedent in collective bargaining is not very encouraging. Last week the two main unions warned about an outsourcing measure carried out by the management of the telecom company in Spain. Specifically, it is the General Public telephone service channel. That is, the closure of the 1004 service centers themselves, which become managed entirely by external providers such as Atento. It involves the change of between 250 and 300 employees to the Telephone Channel for SMEs.

Both social organizations have been critical of this measure. UGT understands that the company must opt ​​for processes of “internalization” of the activity, in a way that guarantees employment. “Given the company’s immobile position, UGT demands that all affected staff be able to voluntarily choose their destination coupling,” they point out. For its part, CCOO disapproves of this “effort to force people away from their activity.” He insists that the company defends the change as “necessary”, but is open to establishing a space for negotiation “with a view to January 2024”. The first meeting has been set for next September 27.

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