Spanish unions oppose court’s decision on dismissal of workers

In October, the Spanish Constitutional Court (STC) ruled in favor of terminating job contracts of workers based on leaves of absence, even if justified or availed intermittently

November 30, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Spain protest
Workers protest in Spain against the Constitutional Courts’ (STC) judgment approving dismissals for exceeding quota on leaves of absence.

On Wednesday, November 27, thousands of workers in Spain protested against the Constitutional Court’s (STC) judgment in favor of the objective dismissal of workers for even justified leaves of absence. The court’s decision was based on article 52.d of the Statute of Workers, which, though in existence since 1980, was substantially strengthened by the government’s labor reforms of 2012. 

Trade unions across the country, including the Workers’ Commissions (CCOO) and the General Union of Workers (UGT), organized demonstrations in provincial capitals, and called for a protest march to the Congress of Deputies in Madrid. Leaders and cadre of the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) also joined the demonstrations in large numbers and expressed their solidarity with the protesting workers.

As per reports, mobilizations were organized in the cities of Almeria, Cadiz, Sevilla, Zaragoza, Santander, Barcelona, Toledo, Avila, Leon, Salamanca and Valencia, among others, on Wednesday. The protesting workers raised the slogan, #NoAlDespidoPorNfermar (No dismissal for falling sick. Defend your rights).

It was in October that the plenary of the STC had ruled in favor of the termination of employment contracts for objective reasons, even in cases of justified or intermittent absence. The judgement has been derided as being pro-business and anti-worker.  

The judgement legalizes the termination of the worker’s contract in case of “absences from work assistance, even justified but intermittent, that reach 20% of working hours in two consecutive months provided that the total absence in the previous twelve months reaches 5% of working days or 25% in four discontinuous months within a twelve-month period … .”

While addressing the march to the Congress of Deputies in Madrid, CCOO general secretary Unai Sordo said that Wednesday’s protests were only the beginning of a wider mobilization planned with the aim of undertaking a “thorough correction” of the labor reforms of 2012, which have generated “precariousness” and have had “dramatic effects,” including the anti-worker verdict by the STC.

“This judgment gives prominence to the enshrinement of business productivity and profits, against the rights of workers, such as the right to work and to recover after an illness,” Sordo asserted.

Enrique Santiago, along with other deputies and members of Unidas Podemos, also participated in the workers’ march in Madrid. 

General secretary of UGT Pepe Álvarez and the deputy secretary-general of the union, Cristina Antoñanzas, called for the repeal of the labor reforms of 2012, and an immediate end to article 52.d. They demanded that the matter be taken up in the first meeting of the council of ministers.