Parliament definitively eliminates age-based leave
Institutional Affairs Committee repeals article of the chamber's internal rules that allowed this privilege
BarcelonaNow, finally, age-based leave, a regime that, as revealed by ARA allowed Parliament workers to continue to be paid without working, will no longer appear in any of the chamber's regulations. This Thursday, the Institutional Affairs Committee has unanimously voted to repeal Article 79 of the Statutes, which allowed age-based licenses. Thus, after this newspaper explained that the chamber pays €1.7m per year to officials who no longer work there, the Parliament has definitively eliminated this privilege. All parties were in favour of a derogation, which more than one has described as a "moral imperative". There are still, however, several questions surrounding the issue.
The main one is what will happen to workers who are already benefiting from this privileged status. According to parliamentary sources, the 21 officials now receiving this benefit will continue to do so because it is an "acquired right". A different issue is the 12 workers whose applications have been granted and deferred, but which have not yet been executed: a team of lawyers is studying whether, despite having been authorised in the past year, they can be reversed. In fact, a transitional provision of the bill approved on Thursday by the committee gives it a margin of a month and a half, until April 1 of this year, for Parliament to agree on how to settle this situation through collective bargaining.
This Thursday the decision taken over a month ago by the committee was made final by the committee. Only three weeks before that –before ARA uncovered this privilege–, the chamber's governing body had approved a reform of age-based leave which did not abolish the special regime, but only reduced it from five to three years. This fact was criticised by En Comú MP during the committee meeting, regretting "the procedural mess", the "comings and goings" and the "transitional solutions".
Now, until April 1, a period of collective bargaining with the workers will begin. It is not expected to be easy. In fact, Parliament's staff council now rebelled against the decision to eliminate age-related leave "unilaterally". In a statement sent by labour Lawyers Col·lectiu Ronda, they denounced an "infringement of the principle of collective bargaining" by the Bureau and claimed that they are considering taking legal action in this respect. From this Friday, when the deletion of the article appears in the Official Bulletin of the Parliament of Catalonia, the staff council will have to assess whether to start administrative litigation accusing the Bureau of having eliminated age leave without having negotiated with them.