Brief Description of Employees’ and Employers’ Associations
The Spanish Constitution grants unions the authority to promote and defend the workers’ economic interests. It also empowers them to represent workers in collective bargaining and to participate in the preliminary mandatory conciliation steps, before disputes can be presented to governmental conciliation agencies.
Rights and Importance of Trade Unions
Freedom of association and representation include the following rights: Right to associate freely with any of the unions (this is a right, not an obligation); Right to establish unions without prior authorisation (both nationally and internationally); Right to choose employee representatives; Right to participate in union activities; Right to keep association preferences private and not communicate them to the employer.
There are two types of employees’ representation: individual delegates and works councils. Individual delegates represent workers in companies or worksites having up to fifty (50) workers. Where the company or the worksite has more than fifty (50) workers, workers will appoint a works council.
Other Types of Employee Representative Bodies
The most basic form of collective representation in Spanish employment law is known as “Personnel Delegate” or “Staff Representatives”. Representation of the workers in a company or work centre with less than fifty and more than ten workers shall be entrusted to the staff representatives. There may also be a staff representative in companies or centres that employ between six and ten workers, if so decided by the majority workers.
The employees are entitled to participate in the company on issues related to health and safety in the workplace. Health and Safety representatives are elected by and among staff representatives in the field of the respective bodies of representation, and specialise in health and safety matters at work.
The works council is the representative and collegiate body of all the workers employed by the company or work centre in charge of defending their interests; it shall be established in each work centre with a register of fifty or more workers.
A company that holds two or more work centres in the same province or neighbouring municipalities, which register less than fifty workers but which, overall, total this amount, shall have a joint works council.
A CBA must establish the incorporation and operation of a Joint Council (“Comité Intercentros”) up to a maximum of thirteen members, to be appointed from amongst the members of the various councils. Such Joint Councils may not take on other duties than those expressly granted in the CBA whereby their incorporation is agreed.