Trends and Prospects in 34 Countries
Trade Union Revitalisation in Spain 199
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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