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Spain

  • Marc van der Meer
Chapter
Part of the The Societies of Europe book series (SOEU)

Abstract

Spanish trade unions reflect the particular historical development before and during the transition to democracy after Franco’s death in 1975. A legacy of deep regional, ideological and political cleavages still marks Spanish unionism today. Additionally, belated and uneven industrial development added to the fragmented organizational structure and low level of union membership. Until the civil war (1936–39), Spanish unions were weakly organized and ideologically divided between moderates in favour of institutional participation and those committed to a revolutionary strategy of ‘direct action’. The authoritarian dictatorship under Franco (1939–75) that followed the defeat of the Republicans suppressed free unions, but semi-clandestine decentralized groupings, largely as part of worker commissions, emerged in the 1950s. During the transition to democracy, union membership first soared due to political mobilization, and Spain re-established democratic institutions, pluralist labour relations, and works councils through an historic interparty pact. However, Spanish unions remained divided by ideological and political alignments. In particular, Communist-led and Socialist-led union movements became main competitors, while some smaller regional, independent and anarchist unions co-exist. After ending a period of social concertation, the two main union movements de-emphasized their party links and joint action in opposition to the Socialist government policies of fiscal austerity and labour market flexiblization. As a re-established democracy, Spain has joined the European Union and has modernized its industrial structure, but mass unemployment remains a major challenge.

Keywords

Trade Union Collective Bargaining Union Membership Basque Country Labour Movement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Bernhard Ebbinghaus and Jelle Visser 2000

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  • Marc van der Meer

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