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Spanish union leaders occupy Endesa offices

22 October, 2019Union officials have occupied the offices of Spanish energy company Endesa to protest against the company undermining rights and benefits by failing to conduct collective bargaining in good faith.

The energy company Endesa, Spanish subsidiary of the Italian multinational utility company Enel, has dragged out negotiations for a new collective agreement for so long that the terms have lapsed. The agreement should have been renewed two years ago, but Endesa has stalled negotiations to force through changes that are unacceptable to its employees. Workers have not been covered by a valid collective agreement since 1 January 2019.

This includes retired Endesa workers, who will lose the subsidized electricity they currently enjoy.

In protest, the general secretaries and other leaders of IndustriALL Global Union affiliates Comisiones Obreras de Industria (CC.OO. de Industria), Federación de Industria, Construcción y Agro de Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT-FICA) as well as Sindicato Independiente de la Energía de Endesa (SIE), have occupied Endesa offices in Madrid, across Andalucia and other cities.

In a joint statement, the union leaders say they will occupy the company’s offices “indefinitely”, and accuse the company of “arrogance” and “genuine contempt” for its workers. The unions claim that the company is trying to “blackmail” workers into accepting a considerable increase in job insecurity and a reduction in the social benefits won in previous years, disguised as modernity and flexibility. In addition, Endesa is adding to the insecurity by unbundling parts of the company that it identifies as non-core.

They demand that the company negotiates in good faith by making a reasonable offer.

IndustriALL Global Union has a global framework agreement (GFA) with Enel that defines a series of guidelines for social dialogue. In this agreement, Enel commits to collective bargaining as a tool for determining the terms and conditions of its employees, and regulating the relationship between management and the unions.

IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches sent a solidarity letter to the Spanish affiliated unions, as well as a letter of protest to the chief executive officer of Enel, calling on the company to honour the global commitment it had made and use the mechanism of the GFA to resolve the dispute.

“We urge you to ensure that Endesa changes its uncompromising attitude in the negotiations and makes an offer that enables the renewal of the collective agreement.

“We hope that Endesa not only resumes negotiations, but does so with an open spirit that allows for the concerns and proposals of the workers to be taken into account, to achieve labour relations that benefit both parties.”