Spanish Labour Organization

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Vertical Labour Union
Sindicato Vertical logo, early version.svg
Full nameSpanish Labour Organization
Native nameOrganización Sindical Española
Founded26 January 1940 (1940-01-26)
Date dissolved6 December 1977 (1977-12-06)
MembersAll employed citizens
JournalPueblo (periodical) [es]
Head unionSee Leadership section
Office locationCasa Sindical, Madrid
CountryFrancoist Spain

The Spanish Labour Organization (Spanish: Organización Sindical Española), commonly known as the Vertical Labour Union (Spanish: Sindicato Vertical), was the sole legal trade union in Francoist Spain. It was a main component of the Francoist apparatus, aligned with the conservative National Catholic ideology of Falangism. Previous unions, like the anarchist CNT and the socialist UGT, were outlawed and driven underground, and joining the Vertical Labour Union was mandatory for all employed citizens.[1]


The OSE was founded in 1940, as a result of various legislations passed by Francoist Spain. OSE held its first congress February 27, 1961 – March 4, 1961; the organisation itself claimed to have roots in the trade union activity of the National-Syndicalist Workers Central (CONS), founded in 1935. CONS had been, as a result of the process of unification of falangists and traditionalists in 1937, fused with the National-Syndicalist Employers Central (CENS) into the National-Syndical Centrals (Centrales Nacional-Sindicalistas); the idea of organising workers, technicians and employers within one "vertical" structure was also integrated in OSE, and the CNS were incorporated into OSE.[2]

At the very beginning of the Francoist State, wages were directly fixed by the state and only later could workers and employers agree upon their wages through this vertical union; this organisation was the practical consequence of the fascist ideal for industrial relations in a corporate state. In it, all the workers, called "producers," and their employers had the right to choose their representatives through elections.

In this organisation, workers and employers supposedly bargained equally. Strikes were forbidden and firing a worker was very expensive and difficult, as the fascism had "bettered capitalism" and had "succeeded in harmonically balancing workers' and employers' interests". In reality, candidates for these elections had to be approved by Francoist Spain and all the process was heavily controlled, as fascism had a very interventionist policy towards the labour market: full employment for men, even at the expense of low wages or inflation, almost no right to work for married women and no unemployment benefits at all.

At the very end of the Francoist State, the sindicato vertical lost its always limited power and illegal trade unions gained force; this led some pragmatic employers to deal with these illegal unions and forsake the "vertical" one. It disappeared in 1977, during the Spanish transition to democracy.

Clandestine PCE presence[edit]

The banned Communist Party of Spain (PCE) considered that the "union" was heavily lopsided in favour of capital but was there to stay, and decided to infiltrate it with their candidates in order to achieve practical gains for the workers' conditions; this was the basis for the communist Workers' Commissions.


National Delegates[edit]

No. Portrait Name
Term of office
1 No image.png Gerardo Salvador Merino [es]
9 September 1939 13 September 1941
No image.png Manuel Valdés Larrañaga [es]
13 September 1941 18 December 1941
2 No image.png Fermín Sanz-Orrio [es]
18 December 1941 7 September 1951
3 José Solís (cropped).jpg José Solís Ruiz
7 September 1951 29 October 1969
4 No image.png Enrique García-Ramal [es]
In ministerial rank
29 October 1969 11 June 1973

Ministers of Trade Union Relations[edit]

No. Portrait Name
Term of office
1 No image.png Enrique García-Ramal [es]
11 June 1973 3 January 1974
2 No image.png Alejandro Fernández Sordo [es]
3 January 1974 11 December 1975
3 (Martín Villa) Adolfo Suárez conversa con el lehendakari del Gobierno Vasco en presencia del ministro de Administración Territorial en el Palacio de Ajuria Enea - Pool Moncloa (1980-12-09) (cropped).jpeg Rodolfo Martín Villa
(born 1934)
11 December 1975 7 July 1976
4 Enrique de la Mata.jpg Enrique de la Mata
7 July 1976 4 July 1977


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Barred, Mikel (2006). La Democracia española: realidades y desafíos. Análisis del sistema político español. Open University of Catalonia.
  2. ^ Organización Sindical Española, Escuela Sindical 1961. Madrid: 1961