Spain

Capital: Madrid
Population: 46.48m. (2014 est.)

Spain has been a member of the ILO since 1956, having earlier been a member from 1919 to 1941. It ratified ILO Conventions No.87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, 1948) and No.98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining, 1949) in 1977.

In 1977, following the return to democratic government, a thriving trade unionism became established in Spain, supported by high level bargaining and the right to strike. Collective bargaining is widely practiced in both the private and public sectors. Following the global financial crisis relations between the unions and the government have deteriorated as collective bargaining has been reformed to give greater prominence to the company level. The relationship with the unions was further impacted by rising unemployment and the introduction of austerity policies.

Respect for the civil liberties and human rights of trade unionists has also deteriorated, with repression of demonstrations and arrests and prosecutions of trade unionists on a large scale. In Sept. 2010, the CCOO and UGT led a general strike. Riot police fired at least seven shots. Eight union members at Airbus were arrested and charged under a Franco-era law (Criminal Code, Article 315) that criminalises interference with the right to work. These criminal provisions have been used repeatedly to arrest and prosecute hundreds of trade unionists for their participation in strike actions. In 2018 the President proposed the repeal of the law. There are also reports of people being deterred from participating in protests and demonstrations due to the now widespread practice of issuing administrative fines against demonstrators, following the introduction of a new public security law in 2015.

The two main centres are the Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO, English: Trade Union Confederation of Workers’ Commissions) and the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT, English: General Union of Workers), both now affiliated to the ITUC. They are of similar strength and together account for three-quarters of union members.Only organisations winning 10% of all seats nationwide are considered representative at sectoral or national level, and only the UGT and CCOO qualify on that basis. Somewhat more fragmented are the anarcho-sindicalist centres, but the Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT, English: General Confederation of Labour) claims 60-80,000 members. The ITUC has one other national affiliate, the Unión Sindical Obrera (USO, English: Federation of Workers’ Unions). At regional level, the cut-off is 15%, and a number of organising centres that are unaffiliated to the national bodies meet this condition within the regions, including an ITUC affiliate, the Euskal Sindikatura.

Full details of the country's political history, the development of trade unionism, and contact and affiliation details for all national trade union centres can be found in ICTUR's in-depth global reference book: Trade Unions of the World.

Link to reportFull country profile: Spain, from Trade Unions of the World (2016)

Link to letterIntervention letter: violent dispersal of workers' strike

Link to reportIUR article: 'An attack on
democracy', Jesus Gallego (2014)

The International Centre for Trade Union Rights

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based in London, promoting international trade
union rights through research and advocacy services.
Email: ictur@ictur.org / Web: www.ictur.org