#4 March 22, 2023
« Progress on Democratizing the Corporate Firm in Spain »

Time: 8am San Francisco | 9am Mexico City | 10am Bogota | 11am NYC-Montréal | 12pm Santiago | 4pm Paris | 5pm Johannesburg | 8.30pm New Delhi | 10pm Jakarta | 2am Sydney

Location: online

Organizers: #DemocratizingWork, OSUN Economic Democracy Initiative, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha and European Trade Union Institute/Instituto Sindical Europeo

Speaker: Emma Rodríguez (Advisor to the State Secretary of Employment and Social Economy of the Spanish Labour Ministry and Professor of Labour and Social Security Law at Universidad de Vigo)

Discussants: Pr. Holm-Detlev Köhler (Professor of Sociology at the University of Oviedo), Mª Cruz Vicente (Confederal Secretary of Trade Union Action of Comisiones Obreras) and Bruno Estrada (President of Plataforma por la Democracia Económica)

Chair: Sara Lafuente (researcher at the European Trade Union Institute)

The Spanish government has officially announced democracy at work as its third labour priority in view of its upcoming EU Presidency. This will expectedly translate the first principle of the Democratizing Work Manifesto into the concrete political agenda of the EU in the second semester of 2023.

This step echoes a recent debate on industrial democracy and workers participation that has been emerging in Spain in recent years. Spain was historically paradigmatic of Southern European countries where the common sense assumed that companies were to be controlled by their capital investors, and trade unions’ role was broadly limited to negotiate working conditions and wages via collective bargaining. Their possible influence, shared control and responsibility over concrete and strategic company policy in capitalist firms was, at best, approached with much scepticism even by the trade unions themselves.

It seems this common sense could be breaking and giving room to a more offensive and enlarged notion of democracy at work, beyond collective bargaining and trade union elections, that would dispute and challenge authoritarianism in firms’ government, and should contribute to enhance control and redistribute power towards workers ie. the labour investors of the firm and the economy. In this new context, it is discussed how a crucial, yet little-known, article of the Spanish Constitution (article 129) on worker participation rights, should be developed in legislation to secure a legal framework for worker participation in company boards.

This seminar will bring together relevant speakers from the Spanish Ministry of Labour, the academia, trade unions and civil society associations. They will present the state of play of this debate in Spain and the progress expected by the Labour Ministry on this area at national and EU level, then discuss how these proposals could be received, and with what implications, particularly for trade unions and workers at local level.

The recording is available in Spanish on this page