PP avoids taking position on labor minister’s role in leaking layoff plan

Socialists demand Báñez resign for giving reporter data on party-worker firings

Labor Minister Fátima Báñez in her seat in Congress.
Labor Minister Fátima Báñez in her seat in Congress.ULY MARTÍN

The government on Friday declined to comment on whether Labor Minister Fátima Báñez should resign after she purportedly leaked confidential information last month to an ultra-conservative newspaper concerning the opposition Socialist Party’s plans to lay off about 180 workers.

When asked about it at a news conference, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría gave vague answers to a reporter, neither acknowledging that any information had been leaked or seeking to defend Báñez. She stated her view that there wasn’t anything different about the publication of the Socialist Party’s plan to lay off workers than reporters getting similar information about private companies.

“Information concerning firing, suspensions, early retirements and reductions in work shifts are known and published; there is information that is leaked and information that is published, as in this case,” she said.

The layoff plan, which by law has to be filed with the Labor Ministry, was given to a reporter at La Razón, which published the information on its front page on June 25. But a subsequent check by EL PAÍS discovered that the formal filing, known in Spanish as ERE, was sent to La Razón through Báñez’s personal email.

The mail was first created by her personal assistant Nuria Paulina García Piñeiro, a labor law professor who has close ties with the Spanish businessmen’s confederation CEOE. She was identified through her Spanish identity card number (DNI), which corresponds to the one that appeared in the official BOE gazette when she was appointed.

She has two options: appear before Congress to explain and then resign, or resign and then appear before Congress"

The Socialists have demanded a full inquiry in Congress, as well as a criminal investigation. By law, ministry workers who work in the General Employment Division, which handles EREs, are prohibited from releasing any type of data, regardless of how insignificant it may be, concerning any employee and the job they hold. All EREs are secret because they contain confidential information about workers.

“What was she doing playing with an ERE in her email?” asked Socialist Party secretary Elena Valenciano at the opening of the Andalusian chapter’s convention on Friday. “Minister Báñez has only two options: appear before Congress to explain and then resign, or resign and then appear before Congress to explain.”

Neither Báñez nor her ministry have given any official explanations.

The Socialist Party filed the ERE on June 22 after the poor results from the last race cost them a reduction in election subsidies. About 70 to 80 percent of the party’s revenue comes from these subsidies, while another 20 percent comes from membership dues.

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