Trade unions have reacted with anger to the ‘disguised’ cut in the state pension (read article in Catalan here, Avui). Although the pension amount is set to rise this year by one percent, the financial assistance of €400 that the Spanish government promised as part of the income tax system has now been removed, which is a blow to the income of pensioners across Spain and means that the benefit they receive will effectively be less than last year. In addition, a higher rate of inflation means that they will be negatively affected by the increased price of goods and services. All the main unions—UGT, CCOO, USOC and Intersindical CSC—have protested against the withdrawal of the €400, with one spokesperson saying that this move should only apply to those on high incomes, exempting pensioners and those with a low level of income. A spokeswoman for the Intersindical CSC said that the situation could be amended by providing other financial benefits that will balance out the amount received by pensioners.
The Spanish National Competition Commission (CNC) has imposed a fine on three manufacturers of bath and shower gel for price-fixing (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Puig, Sara Lee and Colgate are accused of setting a price for various of their products 15 percent higher than they had been, a move that they disguised by a reduction in the size of the packaging for the gels; brands including Fa, Sanex and Lactovit were all affected. The cartel between the producers was formed at the end of 2005 and also included Henkel; however, the latter was exempted from paying a fine of €4.27 million because it reported the price-fixing to the CNC, as part of a so-called ‘clemency programme’ that the CNC has introduced. Similarly, Sara Lee saw a reduction in its fine of 40 percent by providing important proof to the investigation; it had to pay €3.7 million, while the Spanish company Puig’s fine is €3.4 million and that of Colgate Palmolive €2.17 million.
The Spanish government is due to approve a plan tomorrow that will cut state spending by €50 billion (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The cabinet will vote on the proposed ‘austerity’ plan that will affect spending between 2010 and 2013 although budgets relating to pensions, unemployment and education will not be affected, according to government sources—the government is anxious not to make the poorest members of the population pay for the cost of the crisis. The plan has been drawn up over the past few weeks by the economic advisors of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero; its aim is to reduce the current public deficit and meet the objectives of an EU pact regarding stability and growth.
Also in the news: Questions raised over proposed new desalinators in Catalunya due to high cost (read full article in Catalan here, Avui); Barça board to discuss date for presidential elections (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); House where Guardiola was born becomes part of town’s medieval tour (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico)