Public administration workers of the Spanish foreign service go on strike on 16 October: 9-year wage freeze must end now!

October 16, 2017
For the last nine years, public administration employees working abroad for the Spanish state have suffered an unjust and arbitrary wage freeze. Precarious working conditions and, in many countries, rampant inflation and strong fluctuations of local currencies have further compounded the issue.

Approximately 7000 workers provide services to the Spanish state abroad (Administración General del Estado en el Exterior – AGE) in embassies, consulates, ministries and other state institutions around the world. The great majority of these workers, who do not enjoy diplomatic status, are not covered by collective agreements and depend on the local laws of the countries in which they provide their services; laws which are often very different to each other as well as to Spanish legislation.

This dramatic situation, which affects all the countries with presence of the General Administration of the State Abroad, led to an indefinite strike in Argentina, backed by 93% of the workforce in that country, in June 2017. These circumstances are repeated in countries such as USA, Canada, Bolivia, Sweden, Australia, Equatorial Guinea. In neighbouring Brazil, where the inflation rate accumulated in the last eight years is around 65%, the loss of purchasing power makes it almost impossible to reach the end of the month. This desperate situation led the teachers of the Cervantes Institute in that country to strike last April. An agreement was reached to update the wages of the teaching staff in the 76 Cervantes Institutes abroad. However, the Executive Committee of the Interministerial Remuneration Committee (CECIR) later dismissed the proposal invoking the Royal Decree-Law 20/2012 measures to ensure budgetary stability and foster competitiveness.

It should be noted that the Foreign Service is composed of an important group of public employees, including diplomatic staff, from several bodies of the AGE. However, unlike the local workforce, they are covered by Spanish labour legislation, with all the benefits and privileges that this entails. While these public employees face the same loss of purchasing power due to inflation and fluctuation of local currencies, this is partly mitigated by the application of the quality of life and purchasing power modules, which are part of the Staff Employee remuneration system updated annually based on the CPI (consumer price index) of each country. Similarly, the 1% wage increases that were granted to all public employees in Spain (including Official Staff abroad) in both 2016 and 2017 were not applied to the AGE overseas workforce.

The reasons which led the General Administration of the State Abroad to make these differences have still not been officially clarified.

It is incongruous and unacceptable to exclude overseas staff from salary increases granted to public employees in Spain.

In view of this situation, FeSP-UGT EXTERIOR, Federation of Public Workers Abroad, has convened for Monday, October 16, 2017, together with the major Spanish Trade Unions CCOO and CSI-F, a day of GENERAL STRIKE that will affect all the General Administration of Spain Abroad (Embassies, Consulates, Agencies, Technical Offices of Cooperation and Cultural Centers, Commercial Offices, Tourist Offices, Spanish Colleges and Institutes and Liceos, Spanish Hospitals and Network of Centers of the Instituto Cervantes).

PSI calls on all its affiliates to support these workers by calling on the AGE to resume negotiations in good faith and urgently find solutions to remedy this unacceptable situation.

On 16 October create a social media storm in support of and solidarity with these workers.

  1. Post a photo of yourself and/or colleagues displaying a solidarity message on Facebook and call out the AGE (@060PAG - https://www.facebook.com/060PAG/).
  2. Tweet a message to the General State Administration (Twitter account: @060gobes). Use the hashtag: #ActualizaciónSalarialYa

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