collective agreements

collective agreements
   This term is applied to agreements reached through the process of collective bargaining. A distinction must be made between those collective agreements resulting from the Franco regime's Ley de Convenios Colectivos (Law on Collective Agreements) of 24 April 1958 and those introduced under the labour reforms which were implemented following Franco's death in 1975. Enacted following criticism of Spain by the International Labour Organization, the Law on Collective Agreements was the first item of legislation introduced by the Franco regime which specifically dealt with labour. According to its provisions, the vertical syndicates were allowed to engage in workplace-level collective bargaining with employers to determine wage levels and working conditions. The administrative and legal authorities retained a tight control over the negotiation and administration of collective agreements and each agreement applied to all workers and employers in the sector concerned. Workers" distrust of the official syndicates and employers" willingness to negotiate with genuine representatives of labour so as to increase productivity led to the involvement of unofficial workers" representatives in collective bargaining negotiations. These representatives formed the basis for the emergence of the CC OO (Comisiones Obreras—Workers" Committees), which established parallel organizations to the official syndicates.
   The system of collective bargaining remained virtually unaltered until the legalization of trade unions in 1977 and the establishment of the "right to collective bargaining" enshrined in article 37.1 of the 1978 constitution. The Estatuto de los Trabajadores (Workers" Statute) implemented on 15 March 1980 and reformulated 24 March 1995 outlines the legal framework for worker representation and the legal procedures for the collective bargaining process itself. In firms with fewer than fifty and more than ten employees, workers are represented by up to three delegados de personal (workers" delegates) elected by majority vote of the entire workforce. In firms with fifty or more employees, comités de empresa (works" councils) are elected by all employees. Depending on the size of the firm, works" councils may have from 5 to 75 members.
   Essentially concerned with terms and conditions of employment, collective agreements may be negotiated at several levels, ranging from the company level through to the local, provincial or national level. At company level workers are represented by the company's works" council, whilst negotiations carried out at other levels require a negotiating committee to be formed from representatives of those unions which enjoy the status of "most representative unions" (those which have obtained 10 percent or more of members of works" councils).
   Around six million workers are covered by collective agreements. The duration of agreements is usually one to two years.
   See also: industrial relations; labour law
   Further reading
   - Martín Valverde, A. (ed.) (1991) European Employment and Industrial Relations Glossary: Spain, London: Sweet & Maxwell (indispensable for students of Spanish labour relations).
   - Miguélez, F. and Prieto C. (eds) (1991) Las relaciones laborales en España, Madrid: Siglo XXI de España (each chapter is followed by a comprehensive bibliography).
   - Newton, M.T. with Donaghy, P. (1997) Institutions of Modern Spain, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (chapter 11, on trade unions, gives a useful account of the operation of the labour market and collective agreements).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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