ngel Custodio Cabrera, Minister of Labor
The pandemic and the recovery match experiences in countries as different as Spain and Colombia. His Government has watered the labor market with subsidies to curb unemployment, assumes the challenge of integrating Venezuelan immigration and offers workers to Spain to fill vacancies
Angel Custodio Cabrera, Minister of Labor of Colombia Bernardo Diaz WORLD
Updated on Saturday, 23 October 2021 – 01:53
The management of Angel Custodio Cabrera, Minister of Labor of Colombia, during the pandemic has many parallels with that of his Spanish counterpart, Yolanda daz. Cabrera, with a long academic and local political career, assures that his department has taken on a much greater political dimension than that reserved in the cabinet chaired by Ivn Duque. He has resolved labor disputes in the country and led a response to protect the income of workers and companies. It values as its greatest merit the social agreements with employers and unions and now prepare the negotiation of a rise in SMI. So far the similarities. The differences go through modifying the labor framework without repealing the previous one and, also, getting along well with the Minister of Economy. “Sure, that’s very important, he’s my friend.”I have not returned to Spain since before the Covid crisis. How do you find the country? Find one that is very good, cool, as we say in Colombia. My work here has been to advance on issues that we have pending from the Ibero-American Social Security Organization (OISS) and the inter-administrative agreement that we have. Adjustments? We are very concerned about the bilateral agreements on the subject of pensions between Colombians and Spaniards, a very important matter. important. These are people who have worked in both countries, so issues must be quantified in both administrations and that one of the countries assumes the benefit, obviously with prorated charges. We were able to create an administrative route for Colombians who have worked here and who, when requesting pensions, had problems with Colombian information. Now there is a way to modernize the applications and those who want to retire in Spain or Colombia will be able to do so without taking three or four years to solve the problem. The post-pandemic world has totally changed the labor market. What has been the experience in Colombia? We adapt quickly to what is seen coming from a few years ago. We issued three laws to work remotely, in person or telework. There have also been other negative factors that have been accentuated such as the labor displacement of women and young people and that is why we are launching policies to recover those jobs. Unemployment rates before the pandemic were 12.3% and in May 2020 we reached 24.1% unemployment, 5.3 million jobs lost. In August we returned to the pre-pandemic situation. This means recovering many jobs. In Spain ERTEs were used to protect workers’ incomes. What did they do in Colombia? Subsidize payroll to protect employment and support employers. We managed to protect more than four million jobs with 40% of the payroll of a salary, 55% to women until December 31, extendable for six more months for certain sectors. We also promote youth employment, with a 25% payroll subsidy for new jobs. This started in July and in 40 days we managed to create 77,000 jobs, which will be about 150,000 by the end of the year. And there are funds for 600,000 positions in 2022. This will lower the rate from 13.4% to a single digit in 2022. There is also support of 10% of the payroll if the new hires are men over 28 years of age and 15% if they are women. I have discussed it with companies in Spain so that they know about it. There are tax incentives for the first job and BBVA, for example, is very committed. There is also help for victims of violence or people with disabilities. Everything is complemented with a boost to training and public investment in infrastructure, hospitals, education … Are you concerned that the labor market will become dependent on this deployment of incentives? We leave it open depending on the evolution of the labor market. We understand that it is time to place that leverage until the labor market consolidates. Colombia will grow between 7% and 9%, a recovery higher than many Latin American countries, but we cannot grow so much without lowering unemployment rates. That is why this aggressiveness: in Spain there is the paradox that with one of the highest unemployment rates in the EU there are bottlenecks in terms of employment because companies have problems finding workers, both in technology and in construction or In transport, drivers. The two issues were discussed this week with Minister Escriv and the Colombian embassy is working on making arrangements to bring qualified personnel to Spain. Drivers, agricultural work, construction … As Spain wants to make an ambitious employment program and there are areas in which we can work. Colombia is in the process of integrating into its economy the entire migrant population of Venezuela, 1.8 million people. In December there will be a million registered people, which are around 400,000 workers, integrated into the labor market. Obviously we will conserve the local workforce but we must avoid the exploitation of the immigrant. We can contribute 10,000, 5,000. workers to meet those needs. It is not quantified yet but we will have it. Are there major changes in its labor framework in Colombia? We create flexibility without changing the country’s labor structure. For example, the number of hours worked will be reduced from the current 48 to 42 in four years to encourage reconciliation. But Colombia is focused on employment and its structural problems, on deciding how to break the unemployment rate. It is time to check what is happening. Meanwhile, we implement standards such as teleworking to adapt and companies are welcoming it very well. Mental health will be the next step in this area, as well as the conciliation responsibilities that women assume in these situations.And the four-day week? the costs. Our country has difficulties and now in December we will discuss the SMI. The discussion about whether there is employment or not we will, of course. With this growth and this productivity, there are those who argue that the rise slows down employment, but the last Nobel Prize in Economics says no. It is my turn to lead the negotiation in the next few days, there is nervousness with this issue. We raised it by 3.5% in 2021 and now it has to be higher and the discussion is going to be good. Why? Inflation will be between 4% and 5%. It will have to be raised by 7% at the end of the crisis but with the aim of breaking the unemployment rate. It is a very high figure for companies, but from the social point of view, you have to look at the purchasing power loss of the worker. The pandemic has given rise to the importance of Labor Ministries around the world: first it’s numbers and then politics. Conflict has already been resolved in Colombia both among young workers and in large companies. In all these conflicts the Ministry of Labor has been deeply involved. No … the Minister of Labor is another ministry different from what it was because the pandemic makes you talk about figures … and if before they were just labor disputes, the real concern in the economy now is employment. With the direct support of the president is another thing
How are you getting along with your finance minister?
That’s why they named me, he’s my friend, we have a very good relationship. It is easier to get subsidies, to reach state agreements … All this requires a lot of money, money. We have one year left in government and it is very important to achieve our objectives.
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