Spain’s government unveiled Tuesday an 8.0 percent rise in the minimum wage, despite the opposition of employer groups, in a context of high inflation and a key election year.
The announcement by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez comes just months before municipal polls in various regions and a general election which is due by the year’s end.
“We’re going to approve a new 8.0 percent increase in the minimum wage to reach 1,080 euros ($1,173)” gross across 14 months, Sanchez told the Senate upper house of parliament.
Spain traditionally makes salary payments in 14 monthly payments per year, with the extra paychecks typically paid in July and December.
“We are respecting our commitment” to raise the minimum wage “to 60 percent of the average Spanish salary,” he said.
Split across 12 months, that would equate to a gross payment of 1,260 euros.
Although the unions had been pushing for 1,100 euros over 14 months, they hailed the announcement.
“There will be some 2.5 million beneficiaries and it will have a greater impact on women, young people, those with temporary contracts or working in agriculture or the service sectors,” tweeted CCOO union boss Unai Sordo.
Talks on raising the minimum wage were boycotted by employers groups on grounds their concerns were not being taken into account.
“Let them just give us the figure and get it over with,” grumbled Antonio Garamendi, head of the CEOE business lobby in remarks to reporters.
The new increase in the minimum wage comes to a backdrop of high inflation, even though price hikes have slowed significantly in recent months.
Inflation stood at 5.8 percent in January, after peaking at 10.8 percent in July, the highest level in 38 years.
The announcement comes ahead of a busy electoral year for Spain with various municipal polls in May and a general election by the year’s end, although no date has yet been set.
Sanchez was quick to flag his government’s efforts to raise the minimum wage since taking office in 2018.
“We have raised it by 36 percent, that’s to say from 735 euros when we entered government to 1,000 euros gross over 14 months, and always in the face of staunch opposition from the neo-liberals,” he said.