Redondo, Nicolás

Redondo, Nicolás
b. 1927, Bilbao
   Trade union leader
   Nicolas Redondo was the strong man of the socialist trade union, the UGT, between the early 1970s and his retirement in 1993.
   He was born in Barracaldo, an industrial suburb of Bilbao, into a socialist working-class family, the son of a leading anti-Francoist labour militant. Nicolas, who had taken up work in the shipbuilding plant La Naval, joined the PSOE and UGT in 1945. Over the next two decades he became intensively involved in the clandestine political and union struggle against the dictatorship, and by the early 1970s, as de facto leader of the party and union's most powerful regional organization, based in the Basque country, he had become the most influential figure in the socialist movement. He strongly supported the "renovators" against the ageing exiled leadership of the PSOE, and with the transfer of the UGT and PSOE back to Spain between 1971 and 1972 he joined the leadership teams of both organizations. Redondo saw himself as carrying on what he viewed as the democratic Marxist traditions of the Spanish socialist movement. Hence, he argued that at the PSOE "renovators" congress of August 1972 the organization had rediscovered its roots. Nevertheless, he saw himself as essentially a trade union organizer and not a politician, and at the Suresnes congress of October 1974 he turned down the offer of the post of first secretary, and instead supported Felipe González's candidature. His decision to concentrate on union work was confirmed in 1978, when he resigned his post on the PSOE executive committee in order to integrate part of the independent labour confederation, the Workers" Trade Union (Union Sindical Obrera), into the UGT.
   Relations between Redondo and Felipe González deteriorated, however, after the PSOE came to power in 1982. Under Redondo the UGT participated in several institutional pacts between the Employers" Federation, the CEOE, government and trade unions, but from 1985 he became increasingly critical of the PSOE's failure, as he saw it, to defend the interests of the working class. Divisions came to a head in 1988, when Redondo, who had been elected to parliament on the socialist ticket in 1982, resigned his seat, and forged an alliance with the pro-communist CC OO. The schism culminated on 14 December when the UGT and CC OO carried out a oneday general strike against government economic and social policy. Redondo felt increasingly betrayed by his old friends, arguing that while he had remained faithful to the socialists" socialdemocratic legacy, this had been abandoned by the government. Once crossed, he proved a tenacious foe, maintaining links with CC OO, and continuously pressing the government to pursue more pro-labour policies. He was able to marginalize pro-government voices in the UGT itself, and is not without friends within the PSOE. In 1993 he retired as general secretary of the UGT to be replaced by his protégé, Cándido Méndez.
   Further reading
   - Gillespie, R. (1989) The Spanish Socialist Party: A History of Factionalism, Oxford: Clarendon Press (the most detailed history of the Spanish socialist movement between 1939 and 1982).
   - Guindal, M. and Serrano, R. (1986) La otra transición: Nicolás Redondo: el sindicalismo socialista, Madrid: Union Editorial (the only biography of Nicolas Redondo).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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