State Corporatism and Democratic Industrial Relations in Spain 1926-1935. a Reappraisal

Marc Prat (Universitat de Barcelona)
Oscar Molina (Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona)

Abstract: In this paper we explore the development of Spanish industrial relations institutions in the late 1920s and early 1930s. This period witnessed a change from a semifascist dictatorship towards a democratic regime as well as from economic growth to a deep economic recession. In spite of these changes we evidence remarkable continuity in the corporatist industrial relations institutions created in the last years of the Primo de Rivera dictatorship. The analysis of collective bargaining practices in two regions with different trade union history and industrial configuration shows how the experience of Comit├ęs Paritarios (Joint Committees) initiated in 1926 had lasting institutional effects. This goes against the views expressed by some authors as well as an extended wisdom according to which state corporatism is necessarily rhetorical and accounts to little more than a mechanism to disarm the labor movement. Based on historiographic analysis and a previously unexploited source we provide further support to the view that Primo de Rivera contributed to the modernization of labor relations in Spain. Collective bargaining increased significantly during this period and the joint committees system was an institutional innovation that persisted, with minor changes, during the Second Republic (1931-1936).

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