Privilege in Parliament must come to an end

2 min
Parliamentary Bureau Meeting of December 21, 2021

BarcelonaIn the last meeting of the year, the Parliamentary Bureau approved a reform of the age leave system that allowed the chamber's workers to get paid without working from the age of 60 to 65, a real scandal that has come to light thanks to an ARA investigation . The current Speaker, Laura Borràs, defended on Monday that the changes were not brought about by this newspaper's request for information but respond to her own initiative, despite the fact that ARA's request was made in April, eight months before the changes were approved. In any case, what is important is to analyse what was unanimously approved by the Bureau to see if it really puts an end to the labour privileges workers of Parliament enjoy. And the answer is no.

The new system only obliges workers to work a few hours during the first two years, but in the following three years the principle of being paid without working is maintained. This is what has caused the scandal and general indignation. So much so that no one has come out publicly to defend it. Neither those who approved it nor, even less, its beneficiaries. The explanations given by the former Speaker Ernest Benach, in the sense that in 2008 the sensitivity was different, are regrettable, and not only seen with 2022 eyes. In a way it is a sample of how public money was managed during the bubble years, when resources were pouring into the Treasury and were squandered joyfully and recklessly. And the other Speakers (De Gispert, Forcadell, Torrent) or Bureau members who did not detect or did not want to face the problem owe citizens, at the very least, a public apology.

But returning to the current situation, what is most urgent is to solve this irregular situation and not simply patch it up maintaining a situation of privilege. Parliamentary groups with representation at the Bureau (Junts, ERC, PSC and CUP) now have the opportunity to put an end to this comparative grievance and to the age-based leave system. President Borràs has justified the agreement because it is the product of a negotiation with the workers, but this is not an excuse. Social peace in Parliament cannot be achieved on the basis of a system of privilege. If there is consensus that the system is not acceptable, it has to be eliminated. Short and clear, no matter who it bothers.

We would like all this to help make the political class aware of the importance of managing every public euro with maximum efficiency and fairness. Civil servants must have decent working conditions, obviously, and it is legitimate for the administration to be a leader when it comes to granting labour rights to its workers. But this is one thing and another is to provoke a situation of abuse at a public institution which, moreover, is not subject to any external control body. This is also another anomaly that must be resolved so that a similar episode cannot happen again.