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Labor Unions in Barcelona

Written by Laura

Sometimes, we have work problems and we don’t know who to turn to. Being a foreigner or not knowing the available legal resources makes us more vulnerable to company abuses. Therefore, it is important to know the tools that are available to you as an employee in order to maintain your rights in the face of potential problems with your employer. There are many unions in Spain, which are the entities that offer legal advising to workers and protect them when it comes to contracts with employers and different professions and with massive layoffs, such as the ERE (Expediente de Regulación de Empleo). Today in this article from ShBarcelona we will be talking about unions in Barcelona.

Related article: How to Find Work in Barcelona

Unions – key figures in the working conditions of employees

Photo via VisualHunt

Unions are considered in the constitution as entities whose mission is to protect the rights of employees. There are many unions, depending on the profession, and many large labor union organizations that cover the interests of various professions. They can be greatly important at the time of agreeing upon rights and responsibilities of workers with management, the collective of businesses and employers that will be protecting their own interests. Their role can be especially important when there are changes of governance and/or modifications of laws related to working conditions of employees.

The two biggest Spanish unions are the UGT (Unión General de Trabajadores), an organization ideologically linked to the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party (PSOE), the current government party. The other major union is CC.OO (Comisiones Obreras), which was started in collaboration with the Communist Party of Spain and is now more flexible in its ideologies and disassociated from any defined ideology. CC.OO is the larger of the two, as far as affiliation and authority are concerned.

Photo via VisualHunt

There are other important unions in Spain. For example, in the case of education professionals, the most representative union is ANPE (Asociación Nacional de Profesionales de la Enseñanza). Other related unions are the CNT (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo), SIMAP (Sindicato de Médicos de Asistencia Pública), SEPLA (Sindicato Español de Pilotos de Líneas Aéreas), CEP (Confederación Española de Policía) and SUP (Sindicato Unificado de Policía) o UNT (Unión Nacional de Trabajadores). Depending on the profession and other factors, you can get in touch with one of these unions if you find yourself needing direction or advising.   

Related article: How to find weekend work in Barcelona

Workers will generally affiliate themselves with a union in order to enjoy the advantages a union offers to its members. This means paying a monthly fee that will allow a cost-free lawyer in case of conflict and advising you may need while you are affiliated. Furthermore, all companies except for a set number of staff are obligated to make a union department available to all workers at the company that they can turn to in case of conflict. In this case, the service is completely free and does not require affiliation, although there are some advantages and resources to being affiliated with a union that are not available for those who do not pay the monthly fee.

*Main photo by Meet the Media Guru via VisualHunt

Are you affiliated with a labor union? Have they helped you with work conflicts? What did you think of them?

About the author


American journalist living temporarily in Spain. Her passions include news and feature writing, Spanish language and culture and the outdoors.

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