The Spanish government has decided to reduce the cost to companies of making employees redundant in an effort to stimulate the creation of new job posts (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The aim is to make fixed contracts more attractive to employers by reducing the amount that the company would have to pay if an employee was later made redundant—currently, businesses have to pay 45 days of pay for every year worked to those they wish to make redundant, whereas the government wants to reduce that to 33 days in new contracts. The government is also proposing that the costs of ending a contract be shared between it and employers: where an employee has the right to 33 days of salary, the company will only be responsible for paying 20 days, while the other 12 would be covered by the Fondo de Garantía Empresarial (Fogasa). At the present time, Fogasa lends financial aid in such cases to small businesses, but the plan would be to extend its reach to all companies. However, this would be a temporary, exceptional policy, only applicable while the present economic crisis continues. Trade union representatives said that the proposal needs to be studied in-depth and that it was a far from ideal solution that contains a lot of ambiguities—there was also dissatisfaction on the part of the unions because more information was provided about the plan during the press conference than during the hour of closed-door discussion on the matter.
The mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu, has called on immigrants to participate in next month’s vote regarding the future design of the Avinguda Diagonal (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). “I’m not just asking, I’m demanding participation as an act of citizenship,” Hereu said yesterday, speaking with the representatives of various immigrant groups at his side. As the vote is open to all those registered in the city (empadronats) on January 1st of this year, it is a chance to have their say for many who don’t have the opportunity to take part in other electoral processes, such as those for the Catalan and Spanish parliaments. The mayor has already had meetings about the vote with groups including university students, residents and business-owners, and is busy seeking as much participation as possible in the vote, which will take place between May 10th and 16th—voters will have the chance to choose between two new looks to the Diagaonal who state a preference for leaving it as it is.
The Catalan opposition party, Convergència i Unió (CiU, which is made up of two parties, Convergencia Democràtica de Catalunya, CDC and Unió Democràtica de Catalunya, UDC) is divided over the policy towards immigrants in Vic, where the council is looking to denounce those people who register at the council (empadronar) without having legal residency in Spain (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). While members of the executive of CiU, including leader Artur Mas, say they support the decision of the Vic Ajuntament, which is led by a member of Unió, Josep Maria Vila d’Abadal, CDC says that it will not expect its councils to follow the lead of Vic, according to the party’s assistant secretary general, Felip Puig. Puig also said that while there are some towns that already report people who don’t have the necessary papers for living here, there is disagreement between members of both CDC and Unió in their attitudes towards this issue. The mayor of Sant Cugat has said that while he respects the decision of the Vic council, he would not be following suit, while Convergència’s spokesman for immigration, Àngel Colom, said that actions like those in Vic distanced ‘new Catalans’ from Catalanism.
Also in the news: Last accused in Caso Pretoria pays €500,000 bail to get out of prison (read full article in Catalan here, Avui); Nationalist parties to campaign together for yes vote in Girona’s popular referendum on Catalan independence (read full article in Catalan here, Avui); Opposition leader says he doesn’t put any limits on the national aims of Catalunya (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia)