Last Updated: Friday, 24 November 2017, 11:39 GMT

The Global State of Workers' Rights - Spain

Publisher Freedom House
Publication Date 31 August 2010
Cite as Freedom House, The Global State of Workers' Rights - Spain, 31 August 2010, available at: [accessed 24 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


The constitution provides for freedoms of assembly and association, and the government respects these rights in practice. People are free to demonstrate and speak publicly. With the exception of members of the military, workers may organize and join unions of their choice and enjoy the right to strike. A 2007 law provided members of the Civil Guard, the national police force, with the right to organize.

The law prohibits employers from discriminating against union members and organizers. However, employers have punished unions by refusing to renew the temporary contracts of workers engaged in organizing. According to the International Trade Union Confederation, Spain has the highest percentage of workers with temporary contracts, and this is especially true among immigrants, making them particularly vulnerable to substandard working conditions. As a result of a tripartite agreement signed in 2006, the number of temporary workers in Spain has been reduced since 2007.

About 15 percent of the workforce is unionized. Over the past several years the number of strikes and working days lost to strikes has decreased considerably. Strikes are generally called to apply pressure during the bargaining process, rather than to influence the interpretation of agreements. In November 2009, a two-day strike by the cabin crews of the Spanish airline Iberia led to 184 flight cancellations. The workers were protesting the company's hiring plans and a wage freeze.

Collective bargaining is legally binding. Gender equality and life-long training have been given a stronger emphasis in collective-bargaining agreements in Spain over the past few years.

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