LABOURFILE :: Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT) ~ General Confederation of Labour

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► Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT) ~ General Confederation of Labour

The Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT, General Confederation of Labour) is an anarcho-syndicalist labour union and Spain’s fourth-largest labour organization in membership terms, claiming around 80,000 affiliated members. It purports to be third-largest in terms of the number of labour-management company committees on which its representatives hold seats nationwide.

The CGT was formerly known as the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT, or National Confederation of Labour). Spain’s historic libertarian and anarcho-syndicalist union, the CNT was rooted in various 19th-century Spanish anarchist movements before being founded in Barcelona in 1910. Its membership in the early years grew steadily to reach 700,000 as it led or participated in various general strikes until being outlawed in 1922, during the Primo de Rivera dictatorship.

After the fall of the monarchy in 1931, the CGT offered only tepid support to the government of the Second Republic. In 1936, the union was legalized by the Republican government and remained legal until the end of the Civil War. Along with the affiliated Federación Anarquista Ibérica (FAI, or Iberian Anarchist Federation), the CGT played a lead role in the rearguard Barcelona street fighting of May 1937 described by George Orwell in the book Homage to Catalonia. Operating clandestinely within Spain and from exile until dictator Francisco Franco’s death in 1975, the CNT was the only labour or political organization in Spain that refused to sign the 1977 Moncloa Pact that paved the way for a return to democracy. 

After an internal schism in the organization, in 1989 the union lost a court battle in 1989 to retain the CNT name and since 1990 has operated as the CGT. Unaffiliated with any political party or movement in Spain, the CGT differs from other major Spanish labour unions in its rejection of union elections and workplace committees, while seeing strike action — particularly the general strike — as a tool of social revolution.

The CGT maintains a strong presence nationwide in the transport and communications sector, especially in the automotive sector, where it represents workers at plants owned by General Motors, Volkswagen-SEAT, Renault, Nissan, Ford, and other supplier companies in the sector. It also has strength among hotel and hospitality workers, in janitorial and building maintenance, among government workers, in Spain’s Correos postal service, and within the banking, healthcare, education and telecommunications sectors. Geographically, the union represents workers in private and public sector in all of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities, with a particularly strong presence in Catalonia, Andalucia, Madrid and the Valencian community.

► Learn more about the CGT at the following links online:

Updated as of 01/2018

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