News Justice and Public Administration

The Basque Government provides details of the measures it is to put into effect in order to reduce public expenditure

2010 June 3

The monitoring committee of the General Negotiating Committee of the Public Administration held its first meeting today, six and a half months after signing an agreement with the majority of Trade Unions. Together with trade union representatives, the Deputy Minister of the Civil Service, Juan Carlos Ramos, analysed the application of the agreement and the level of compliance with its undertakings, as well as the new situation generated through the approval of the measures of the Central Government to reduce the public deficit.

At the meeting, trade union representatives were informed of the need to reduce public expenditure in the Basque Country, in accordance with the current economic situation and adapted to the special nature of our self-government. This is in line with the strategy of the cost reduction plan of the central government and its obligatory stipulations. With a spirit of shared responsibility and solidarity, the Basque Government also proposes plan of austerity, savings and reforms in the Public Basque Administration on which it has been working over the last few months, the application of which has been accelerated due to the circumstances.

Following the signature, on November 18, of the agreement of the General Committee, which sets out the issues and working conditions common to the civil servants and workers of the Basque Public Administration, the Basque Government signed a number of sector agreements with General Administration personnel, civil servants and workers, personnel of the justice system and teaching staff The Government has detected a high level of compliance with all the undertakings set out in the agreement, both relating to pay increases and the calling of offers of public employment, the services outsourcing policy and the application of new permits.

The gravity of the crisis has created a new economic scenario and the need to put a number of important measures in place. The most direct consequence of this new scenario is the publication of the Royal Decree-Law of measures to reduce public expenditure, an important feature of which is the measure to reduce the staffing costs of public administrations.

The Basques Government accepts its part of the responsibility and proposes a series of measures to reduce expenditure. These, in compliance with the aim of reducing its wage bill by 5%, are less damaging for public employees and in addition include the progressivity of salaries in their application. To do this, it establishes that the cuts are not to be applied to the total payment but only to the basic salary and seniority.

Expressed in percentages, the minimum reduction in the basic payments of civil servants has been established at 0.56% and the maximum at 2.86%. In annual terms, this 2.86% represents 5% on total payments.

The proposal to reduce the salaries of senior posts (for which the maximum reduction of 2.86% is taken as a reference, to be applied to the highest level of public employees), by one percentage point above 2.86% works out as follows:

● Deputy ministers: 3.86%, equivalent to 6% in annual terms.
● Ministers: 4.86%, equivalent to 7% in annual terms.
● Lehendakari: 5.86%, equivalent to 8% in annual terms.

The salaries of directors will be reduced by the same amount as the highest-paid civil servants. This is to prevent their payments, following three years of frozen salaries, from falling below that of civil servants of a higher level.

These measures to reduce salaries will bring about a saving of approximately 50 million euros. The Basque Government will put into motion additional measures to save another 60 million euros, to bring the total amount of savings to almost 100 million, as planned, in accordance with the following:

● Maximum savings target through the application of the Royal Decree: 99,701,636 euros
● Savings obtained through the application of the Royal Decree on basic payments: 50,496,356 euros
● Amount still remaining in order to reach the target: 49,205,280 euros
Additional measures:
● Amortisation of the 166 jobs vacant due to retirements or alternatively another budgetary allowance until the amount undertaken is reached.
● Accumulation of tasks and substitutions. It is proposed to reduce expenditure by 10% a year, fundamentally in the General Administration and the Basque health service, Osakidetza.
● Reduction in the number of substitutions. It is proposed to reduce the total cost of substitutions by 8% per year.

In general, and taking into consideration the exceptions expressed in the applicable agreements, the sectors of Education, Justice, Interior and Osakidetza will avoid hiring substitutes for periods of time of less than five days. In the General Administration, no substitutions shall be made for any absence of less than one month.

● Amortisation of vacant jobs. The aim will be to amortise 138 jobs that have been vacant for 12 months or more
● Measures to reduce absenteeism. The Basque Government proposes to reduce absenteeism by 1%.
● General 1.50% reduction in the percentage contributed to Itzarri.

With regard to non-civil servant workers in which the Royal Decree also establishes a linear 5% reduction in basic payments, the Basque Government will apply the same reduction as for civil servants, following criteria of proportionality.
Regarding public companies and entities, mechanisms will be sought in order to equate salary reductions carried out with other groups. In this way, none of the directors of public companies may be paid an amount in excess of the salary of a deputy minister.

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