Workers' Commissions


Full name Workers' Commissions
Native name Comisiones Obreras
Founded 1976
Members 1,139,591 members.[1]
117,016 (37,8 %) union representatives.[2]
Affiliation ITUC, ETUC
Key people Ignacio Fernández Toxo, general secretary
Office location Madrid, Spain
Country Spain

The Workers' Commissions (Spanish: Comisiones Obreras, CCOO) since the 1970s has become the largest trade union in Spain. It has more than one million members and is the most successful union in labor elections, competing with the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT) (historically affiliated with the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party [PSOE]), with the syndicalist Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT) usually a distant third.

The CCOO were organized in the 1960s by the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) and workers' Roman Catholic groups to fight against the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, and for labor rights (in opposition to the non-representative "vertical unions" in the Spanish Trade Union Organisation). The various organizations formed a single entity after a 1976 Congress in Barcelona.

Along with other unions like the Unión Sindical Obrera (USO) and the UGT, it called a general strike in 1976, and carried out protests against the conditions in the country. Marcelino Camacho, a major figure of Spanish trade unionism and a PCE member, was CCOO's General Secretary from its foundation to 1985 he was elected to the Congress of Deputies in the 1977 election.


Birth and role during the dictatorship

Taking as reference the clandestine union Oposición Sindical Obrera (OSO) the first workers' commissions were organized during 1960 in Asturies, Catalonia, Madrid and the Basque provinces of Gipuzkoa and Bizkaia as labor disputes emerged outside the Francoist national-syndical movement. Originally the "commissions" were representative bodies of workers elected in assemblies. The first "comisiones" were boosted by the Communist Party of Spain (PCE), Christian labor movements (JOC and HOAC) and other groups opposed to the Franco regime. Gradually the ad hoc commissions started to become permanent, creating a stable and well organized movement.

For many historians, one of the first places where the Workers' Commissions were formed was the vally of Laciana (province of León), within the Minero Siderurgica de Ponferrada (MSP) industry. Another place that sometimes is also cited as the first is La Camocha mine (Gijón) in 1957, during a strike.[3] The Asturian miners' strike of 1962 ("La Huelgona") was the first massive action of the union and one of the first massive popular mobilizations against the Franco regime.

The union was heavily repressed by the regime. In 1972 all the leadership of CCOO was jailed, being judged in the infamous Proceso 1001. They remained imprisoned until the trial, more than a year later. This finally took place on 20 (day that coincided with the assassination of Prime Minister Luis Carrero Blanco, which led to the suspension of the trial for a few hours), 21 and 22 December 1973. The defendants faced the accusation of belonging to an illegal and subversive organization, and of having links with the Communist Party of Spain (PCE).[4] On December 30 convictions were announced, which coincided with requests of the prosecutor and whose severity was considered related to the murder of Carrero Blanco. The convictions were the following: Marcelino Camacho, 20 years of jail; Nicolás Sartorius, 19; Miguel Ángel Zamora Antón, 12; Pedro Santiesteban, 12; Eduardo Saborido, 20; Francisco García Salve, 19; Luis Fernández, 12; Francisco Acosta, 12; Juan Muñiz Zapico Juanín, 18; and Fernando Soto Martín, 17. They were amnestied on 25 November 1975.

The tactic of CCOO was entryism, i.e.: infiltration in the Vertical Unions of Francoism. This tactic culminated in the union elections of 1975, during the agony of the Franco regime, where CCOO got the overwhelming majority of the delegates elected in the major companies in the country. CCOO led numerous strikes and labor mobilizations in late Francoism and the Spanish Transition.[5]

Transition and 80's

Since the democratic transition until 1987 its secretary general was the historic union leader Marcelino Camacho, also a prominent leader of the PCE and deputy between 1977 and 1981. In 1976 CCOO held the Assembly of Barcelona, where the modern class trade union confederation was formed. CCOO was legalized on 27 April 1977. The murder of 5 labor lawyers by a far-right terrorist in 1977 (members of the union and the PCE) in Madrid that year as followed by a massive funeral, more than 250,000 people participated, and the strikes that followed helped the legalization of the organization. In those years the union is growing rapidly in membership, like the rest of unions and leftist parties. From 1976 to 1978 CCOO went from 30,000 to 1,823,907 members. However, after the signing of the Moncloa Pacts this figure gradually begun to descend, passing to 702,367 in 1981 and 332,019 in 1986. This negative trend in membership started to change since 1987.[6] In those years CCOO also suffered various splits. In 1976 the Confederación de Sindicatos Unitarios de Trabajadores (CSUT), a group of CCOO members affiliated with the Party of Labour of Spain (PTE) split from the organization. In May 1977 CCOO suffered another split, this time from supporters of the maoist Workers' Revolutionary Organisation (ORT), that formed the Sindicato Unitario.[7]

The year after legalization in 1978, CCOO held its I Confederal Congress, where Marcelino Camacho was reelected, what would happen again in the Second (1981) and III (1984) congresses. CCOO also was the most voted union (37.8% of the representatives) in the workers representative elections of 1978, the first democratic ones in the history of Spain. In this last congress different factions emerged, including a majority linked to PCE (led by Marcelino Camacho) and three minorities, respectively linked to the Workers' Party of Spain – Communist Unity (PTE-UC) (called carrillistas and led by Julián Ariza); the Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain (PCPE); and the Revolutionary Communist League and the Communist Movement (known as Izquierda Sindical).[8] In 1980 CCOO received an important part of the USO members, that belonged to the socialist self-management current. In 1986 the union participated in the historical mobilizations against the permanence of Spain in NATO. CCOO asked for a "NO" vote in the NATO referendum.

CCOO called 4 general strikes in the government of Felipe González: 1985, 1988, 1992 and 1994; against the economic and employment policy of the PSOE government. Especially massive and historic was the 1988 Spanish general strike, organized jointly with the UGT, which had an 95% of following, and forced the government to totally withdraw the Youth Employment Plan.

90s to today

Headquartes of CCOO and other unions in Tarragona.
General strike on November 14, 2012 in Madrid.

Since the Fourth Congress (1987), the union's general secretary was Antonio Gutiérrez, reelected in the V Congress (1991). During his mandate CCOO distanced itself from the PCE and a preference for negotiations and the social pacts over strikes and conflictivity was promoted. This was criticized by a faction known as the Critical Sector of CCOO, supported by Marcelino Camacho and Agustin Moreno, in the sixth Congress (1996). The Critical Sector of CCOO has continued to organize the most pro-PCE sector of CCOO since then.

In the VII Congress (2000) José Maria Fidalgo was chosen as the new secretary general, being re-elected at the Eighth Congress in April 2004.[9] In 2002 CCOO and UGT called for a general strike against a decree of the government of José María Aznar that made firings cheaper, eliminated agricultural subsidies and encouraged job insecurity, known as the decretazo. After protests the measure was withdrawn almost entirely. In this cycle CCOO reached again over one million members. CCOO also opposed the Iraq War and participated in the massive protests against it.

CCOO held its IX Confederal Congress in December 2008, with 1.2 million members and 120,000 elected delegates in the workplaces of Spain at the time. At the Ninth Congress Ignacio Fernández Toxo was elected general secretary, surpassing by 28 votes José María Fidalgo.[10]

General Secretary

Between 1985 and 1997, the union's General Secretary was Antonio Gutiérrez; he was followed by José María Fidalgo (1997–2009), often criticized by the left wing of the union. The CCOO and the UGT, summoned three general strikes (1988, 1992 and 1994) against the economic policy of the Felipe González government, and one on June 20, 2002, against the government of José María Aznar and its plan to change the unemployment insurance system.

The current General Secretary is Ignacio Fernández Toxo. On September 29, 2010, the CCOO called a general strike to protest the José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero government's plans to raise the retirement age and cut spending.[11]

General Secretary
1976-1987 Marcelino Camacho
1987-2000 Antonio Gutiérrez
2000-2008 José María Fidalgo
2008- Ignacio Fernández Toxo


CCOO headquarters, Madrid.

CCOO is organized territorially in local, provincial, regional/nationality levels (in regional unions or in nationality confederations) and in a Spain-wide level. Equally and in a parallel way CCOO is organized at the sectoral level, from local unions in a company to the federal branch. Branch federations are:

The decision-making bodies at the federal level are the Confederal Congress, the Confederal Council and the Confederal Executive Committee.

Federal Secretary

Ignacio Fernández Toxo

Confederal Executive Committee

Internal currents

There are 3 internal currents in CCOO:


  1. 31 December 2012
  2. February 2013
  3. «CC. OO. Breve historia». Fundación Juan Muñiz Zapico.
  4. RECIO GARCÍA, Armando. Universidad Complutense de Madrid, ed. «La prensa jurídica en el tardofranquismo: el Proceso 1001».
  5. El movimiento obrero en la transición. Objetivos políticos y organizativos. Robert M. Fishman. Reis: Revista española de investigaciones sociológicas, ISSN 0210-5233, Nº 26, 1984, pages:. 61-112
  6. La evolución de la afiliación a CC. OO. . 1978-2007, Confederación Sindical de CC. OO.
  7. MOLINA BLÁZQUEZ, José. Apuntes para: orígenes y evolución de la Organización Revolucionaria de Trabajadores. 2009.
  8. Transición política y sindicalismo radical, Centro de Asesoría y Estudios Sociales.
  9. Fidalgo triunfa en el 8º Congreso de CC. OO., que califica de plural «sin miedo», El Día, 25/04/2004
  10. Toxo vence a Fidalgo por 28 votos y se hace con la Secretaría General de CC. OO. , ADN, 19/12/2008
  11. "Spain Has First General Strike in Decade as Europe Marches". Bloomberg. 2010. Retrieved 26 October 2010.
  12. Resumen de prensa CC. OO. Comunicacíon y transporte

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