Union members on company boards? Spain’s CEOE says why not

MADRID | The Spanish employers’ organization CEOE met Wednesday morning to make public its proposals to the government that will emerge from the next general election on November 20. The most unanticipated of the measures suggested by the president of the confederation Juan Rosell to his Executive Committee has been the possibility that trade unions be part of the boards of directors of companies, in the future.

Rosell clarified that it is an idea that he brings to the table and hopes that employers will study it in the coming weeks to determine its viability. The proposal has caused dismay among the leadership of the CEOE.

The next government that emerges from the elections will have to face, in all likelihood, a new labour reform. The Confederation has already said it will fight to lower the cost of dismissal and it has been suggested that Rosell could have proposed union’s wider involvement in exchange, in an effort to maintain social peace with the unions.

The referent of this proposal is the German model of corporate governance. This consists in a dual system that recognises two governing bodies: the board of directors, comprised of senior executives who manage the company, and above them, the supervisory board, which approves the strategy submitted by the executives and appointed managers. Under German law, at least one third (if the company has 500 employees) or half (if it has 2,000 employees) of the supervisory board members must be representatives of the workers.

On the other hand, the CEOE has warned it will not ask the new government for a single contract modality, but rather the simplification of the current 43 contracting modalities to just four or five. The idea would be to implement a new permanent contract “general and different from the current one” that could coexist with the part-time contract, the practice and training contract, and along with the labour or service contract, all of which are “absolutely necessary.”

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