Can an independent trade union survive in Spain?

Or do they all live off the state in order to live at all? This re the emergence of an independent domestic workers union in Barcelona, Sindihogar.

Trebots @ Thursday November 24th 2011 12:08

A friend is involved in the new female (migrant) domestic workers' union, Sindihogar (release here by Drina Ergueta), an excellent initiative, and one which moreover says it will remain independent. But is that realistic in a town where what passes for civil society is in fact the many-headed hydra of the state? Where all other working class (immigrant) organisations accept interference in exchange for subsidies and office space, and end up serving the political, linguistic (regime organs immediately Catalanised the name as Sindillar) and family employment needs of an administration cacique rather than their (potential) membership?

One organisation which doesn't even have to pretend to be a NGO is the council's Centre d'Informació i Recursos per a les Dones, which has a rather nice house on c/ Camèlies. I walk past it every couple of days and can honestly say that I've ever seen any members of the public inside, although there are evidently some every now and again. But they make all the right noises, and their newish blog has strategic flurries of posts coinciding with the municipal elections at the end of May and the generals just past, so maybe they'll survive with salaried staff and all. (If you visit them, make sure you check out the next house along - I think it's no 38 - which has a splendidly tasteless dog and monkey above the door.)

(This "end all state finance for community groups, religious organisations, professional associations, advocacy groups, folk dancing, Formula 1, football etc" rant is actually the paws and jaws of the "end all cultural subsidies now" closing rant from yesterday. But, without descending into cynical gloom, if you look back to the first Mayday in Barcelona, the smart orators were probably working out already how long it would take them to sequester state resources for their finch collection.)

  • Barcelona (896)
  • Civil society (1) Civil society is the aggregate of non-governmental organizations and institutions that manifest interests and will of citizens Civil society includes the family and the private sphere, referred to as the "third sector" of society, distinct from government and business. Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon defines civil society as 1)
  • Domestic worker (1) A domestic worker is a person who works within the employer's household. Domestic workers perform a variety of household services for an individual or a family, from providing care for children and elderly dependents to cleaning and household maintenance, known as housekeeping. Responsibilities may also include cooking, doing laundry and ironing, food shopping and other household errands. Some domestic workers live within the household where they work. At its 301st Session, the ILO Governing Body agreed to place an item on decent work for domestic workers on the agenda of the 99th Session of the International Labour Conference with a view to the setting of labour standards. The conditions faced by domestic workers have varied considerably throughout history and in the contemporary world. In the course of twentieth-century movements for labour rights, women's rights and immigrant rights, the conditions faced by domestic workers and the problems specific to their class of employment have come to the fore. In 2011, the International Labour Organization adopted the Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers which covers decent work conditions for domestic workers. Recent ILO estimates based on national surveys and/or censuses of 117 countries, place the number of domestic workers at around 53 million. But the ILO itself states that "experts say that due to the fact that this kind of work is often hidden and unregistered, the total number of domestic workers could be as high as 100 million". The ILO also states that 83% of domestic workers are women and many are migrant workers.
  • Market (2)
  • State (1)
  • Trade union (1) A trade union, labour union or labor union is an organization of workers who have united together to achieve common goals such as protecting the integrity of its trade, achieving higher pay and benefits such as health care and retirement, increasing the number of employees an employer assigns to complete the work, safety standards, and better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with employers. The most common purpose of these associations or unions is "maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment". This may include the negotiation of wages, work rules, complaint procedures, rules governing hiring, firing and promotion of workers, benefits, workplace safety and policies.
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  1. Tom
    November 24th 2011 15:29

    Funnily enough, I was thinking of just this the other day: how possible would it be to establish a new general workers' union without the state/PSOE muscling in? Because the only way 'indignados' can have any sway is by uniting with labour. Which would have to mean a new organisation.

    I hadn't heard of Sindihogar... it sounds like a really positive development.

  2. Trebots
    November 24th 2011 16:01

    It's got to be the only labour organisation in Spain not run by an old man with a beard. There's bound to be a law against it.

  3. A Nun
    November 24th 2011 16:08

    I imagine it's a question the official unions will be asking themselves pretty soon. Why should the PP keep paying for them if all they're going to do is protest against the cuts?

  4. Trebots
    November 24th 2011 17:52

    Spain isn't a totalitarian dictatorship, but there's still a whiff of Poland 1980: you've had official unions run by old men in hock with the ruling party which represent well-off middle-aged workers and which resist any change to the status quo; then you've got non-unionised youth suffering massive unemployment who I suppose might embrace a Solidarity-type free union movement, or alternatively might come to support radical labour market reform and deunionisation on the grounds that it would dislodge older, lazier, worse-educated workers and give their generation a chance. Either way the official unions are surely doomed.

  5. Náiguel Puig i Clot
    November 24th 2011 20:14

    Tom - since Cándido, erstwhile Marx of the Middle Class, only represents those who are working - and knows perfectly well that the rate of youth unemployment is directly caused by that sweet finiquito due his loyal followers - we're wondering how interested he'd be in having the indignant on board.

    Today's fact-like items - there are more 55-65 year olds working now than there were in 2007-2008. Fewer under-35's than at the beginning of 2002.

  6. Candide
    November 25th 2011 14:56

    http://www.itacat.info/2011/11/ha-nascut-sindillar-el-sindicat-de.html

    shows that there are several other organisations left to be aryanised. Especially "Mujeres Pa'lante", obviously.

 

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