José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the Spanish prime minister announced several weeks ago that pensions would be increased during 2010. Since then a series of meetings with trade unions at which a figure of over 1% and possibly 2% seems to be the prevailing increase figure touted by the government.

But the unions, especially UGT and CCOO, believe that increased prices caused by inflation have already eaten away at a 2% increase and that the government needs to bring an increased figure to the table.

In the Malaga area 70% of local pensioners have an income of less than €600 each month of the quarter of a million pension recipients in the area around 175,000 receive less than €7700 per annum which equates to €550 a month. Although it should be pointed out that there are 14 months in the “pension year” in Spain.

Prime Minister admitted that he had difficulty in calculating a suitable figure because less than half of all pensioners are included in the official government pension statistics. Some pensioners such as widows are particularly financially strapped with the average rent in Malaga being slightly over €525 monthly.

The unions do not agree with the government’s figures and believe that as many as 70% of all pensioners live on as little as €400 per month, and that the €550 figure is misleading because it includes a small number of higher paid pensioners distorting the average.