Brief Description of Employees’ and Employers’ Associations
Portuguese trade unions cover almost all existing professional activities. In theory, therefore, all employees could be unionised, despite of unionisation rates being quite low. There are two main trade union federations in Portugal: UGT and CGTP. Although formally independent they are strongly connected or close to left wing political parties, mainly the socialist (PS) and the communist (PCP) party. Employers are legally prevented from interfering with union activities, even with the purpose of promoting, supporting or financing trade unions. and there are several collective bargaining agreements governing all different kinds of activities.
Rights and Importance of Trade Unions
The employees are entitled to associate with unions for the purpose of defending and promoting their social and professional interests.
Employees’ Representation in Management
Employees do not have any particular right to be part of the company’s social bodies. The employees’ representation in the management is assured by the obligation that the employer has to consult with the workers’ representative bodies on a number of matters related to the management of the company, namely the organisation of the company’s workers’ structure, careers and promotions, bankruptcy procedures, dismissals and company restructuring. Workers’ councils have the right to meet, at least once a month, with the management body of the company to assess issues related to the exercise of their rights.
Other Types of Employee Representative Bodies
For purposes of collective defence and pursuit of their rights and interests, employees are authorised to form workers’ committees and sub-committees (i.e. for Health & Safety, for Prevention and Protection at Work;…) and then fill those committees with employee representatives whom the workers have elected. Employees can also take part in any number of European Works Councils (EWC) or even establish their own Works Council to serve as a rrepresentative body at company level.