Saturday, 24 March 2012

Over half of union executives get paid by private and public companies

Cándido Méndez (l. CC.OO.)
and Fernández Toxo (UGT)
SPAIN The unions have called a General Strike for March 29th, which the centre-Right Government and business oppose almost as a matter of course. Perhaps some of the unions' executives should be counted among them. A recent study revealed that over half the top echelons of both the Comisiones Obreras (CC.OO.) and Unión General the Trabajadores (UGT), the country's two principal unions that house many smaller versions, are members of the Board of Directors of public and private companies. That, and they are present in public organizations as well as on the board of foundations that belong to them or others. Their mere presence on these boards allow them to receive interesting extra pay in the shape of expenses, monies for turning up at meetings and, in some cases, salaries that are supposed to go to the union coffers. The study points out that they are quite at ease working on both sides of the Us/Them fence, alternating their work for the unions and for their business paymasters.>>>
Checking the CVs of several members show that this 'doubling-up' is commonplace. One of them, the UGT's head in Madrid, José Ricardo Martínez, was on Board of Caja Madrid last year, earning a total of  €181,000, of which €108,000 came from the building society itself and the remaining 73,000 in expenses. The top man at UGT, Ignacio Fernández Toxo, Secretary General since 2009, was on the Board at Aceralia, one of Spain's largest steel companies, from 1999 to 2002, followed that year as a Board member of the Luxembourg steel company that owns Aceralia, Arcelor, where he was until 2004. In fact, as Toxo climbed the union structure, he was carrying out jobs as a Board member of the steel companies until, in May 2008, he became a member of the Board at ArcelosMittal, the company that owned the other two, where he remained until May 2009.

Atlantis Compañía de Seguros y Reaseguros, S.A. is a large insurance group that is linked to the Confederación Empresarial Española de la Economía Social (CEPES), an organization that represents the 'social economy' businesses in Spain, according to Wikipedia. On its Board are three members of the main Committee of CC.OO. UGT Committee members are also on the Board.

The list goes on. However, it is common practice in Germany, for instance, to have union representatives on company Boards, though most often on those of the company they work for. It is felt that the Us v Them syndrome is better kept in check that way.

In Spain, the battle continues.

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