vertical syndicates

vertical syndicates
   The Sindicatos Verticales, which were also known as the Organization Sindical, were the official state trade unions of the Franco regime. They were set up during the Civil War on the model of the Italian fascist labour organization, and dominated labour relations for forty years. The objective of the sindicatos was to organize national production in a system of bodies arranged "vertically" within each sector of the economy. This meant that workers, administrators and bosses were to be grouped together, thereby avoiding the class solidarity implicit in exclusively worker unions, "horizontally" organized. In spite of the rhetoric of the "harmo-nization of capital and labour", the real effect of the imposition of the state union structure and the outlawing of strikes was to deny the working class the possibility of voicing dissent. As in fascist Italy, the sindicatos verticales were provided with a bureaucracy by the state party, the Falange. They also derived from a longer tradition of authoritarian Catholic corporativism which pre-dated the Republic of the 1930s, and which aimed to do away with class conflict, either by incorporating political unions into institutions of the state, or by setting up alternative unions motivated not by class but by other "superior" interests. At various stages prior to the Civil War the notion of establishing specifically Catholic unions was mooted. The Francoist vertical trade unions were partly influenced by this idea, but in addition the sindicatos were now portrayed as an integral part of a broader and more grandiose image of the resurgent nation. The "superior" interest, above considerations of class, was "the nation" and national production.
   Election to posts of worker representatives (enlaces) in the sindicatos was officially open only to Falangists. However, despite all the efforts of the regime, the sindicatos gradually became significant as a means for voicing protest. Even some Falangists dissented from the official government line or the stance taken by an employer. Moreover, from the very outset, at the end of the Civil War in 1939, militants of the anarchist CNT had infiltrated the official state unions in small numbers. Increasingly, other clandestine political groups were adopting a policy of "entryism", widespread infiltration into the state machinery in order genuinely to fight for worker demands and to subvert the aims of the regime. By the 1960s the state unions were increasingly influenced by the CC OO, the clandestine labour organization led jointly by Catholics and communists, which had been practising the strategy of entryism since 1948. Employers, who had always, in the main, had the ear of the government in the elaboration of economic policy, began to recognize that often a more effective way of negotiating labour disputes was to deal directly with unofficial workers" groups. The official union structure, by the end of the 1960s, was becoming increasingly anachronistic. By the time of its final dismantling in 1977, following the demise of Franco and of his regime in 1975, it had become a vast unwieldy bureaucracy, largely irrelevant to the day-to-day activities of the economy, work and labour agitation.
   Further reading
   - Amsden, J. (1972) Collective Bargaining and Class Conflict in Spain, London: Weidenfeld-Nicolson (a useful overview concentrating on the 1960s).
   - Balfour, S. (1989) Dictatorship, Workers and the City: Labour in Greater Barcelona Since 1939, Oxford: Oxford University Press (a regional study giving many insights into relations between the official unions and CC OO).
   MICHAEL RICHARDS

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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