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Trade Union Revitalisation

Trends and Prospects in 34 Countries

Edited By Craig Phelan

Although trade unionism has been declining in virtually every part of the world, its continued demise is not a foregone conclusion. As it has throughout its history, trade unionism has demonstrated a capacity to adapt, to make its voice heard, to reassert its power. The scale and scope of experimentation taking place in the labour movement today is testimony not just to the depth of the crisis but also to the possibility of resurgence in the years ahead. This book is an essential resource for anyone wishing to know about contemporary labour issues. It offers a comprehensive introduction to the state of trade unionism in the world today, and the often innovative strategies and tactics trade unionists are using to revive their organisations in each of the major nations of the world. Leading labour scholars discuss, in clear prose, the health of the trade union movement, the present political and economic climate for trade union advancement, the dominant revitalisation strategies, and future prospects in each nation. Each chapter includes an up-to-date guide to further reading.

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Trade Union Revitalisation in Spain 199

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KERSTIN HAMANN and MIGUEL MARTINEZ LUCIO Trade Union Revitalisation in Spain 1. Spanish Unions: From Decline to Recovery Even though trade unions in Spain have one of the lowest union density rates in Europe with about 15 per cent in 2000, in many ways Spanish unions have displayed signs of revitalisation, especially in organisational terms, that set them apart from their counterparts in Central European countries, which are still experiencing declining density and power. In fact, for the last decade or so, unions in Spain have begun to increase affiliation, raise union density, and regain some political power lost during the 1980s: although, overall, they are not comparable to northern and western European levels. However, both the strategies Spanish unions have pursued and the obstacles they encountered during this process need to be examined in the context of the historical development of unions in Spain. The two major union confederations in Spain are the UGT (General Workers’ Union) and the CCOO (Workers’ Commissions). The UGT was founded in 1888 by the Socialist Party (PSOE) and was a major union until the beginning of the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, which lasted from 1939, when Franco won the Civil War, until his death in 1975. During Franco’s reign, independent labour unions were banned and union leaders and members perse- cuted. The UGT remained active underground only in a few regions in Spain, but resurfaced quickly during the transition to democracy that began after Franco’s death. The dictatorship also witnessed the incipi-...

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