The National Confederation of SMEs (Conpymes) is going to present this Thursday a contentious-administrative appeal before the National Court to be recognized as a representative organization of small and medium-sized companies, a condition that the Ministry of Labor has repeatedly denied, and which has prevented its comparison with the rest of social agents. Until now, Cepyme, an organization integrated within the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE), is the only representative that these companies have within the social dialogue table.
The judicial claim has been the last way that those responsible for Conpymes have decided to go to obtain a condition of representativeness that they have been claiming for nine months. In August 2021, this organization, born in 2018 under the name of Pymes Platform, and which acquired its current name in November 2020, filed a petition with the Ministry of Labor alleging that it met the conditions established by the Workers’ Statute to hold this role, and that in its sixth additional provision it details that “business associations that have ten percent or more of the companies and workers at the state level” will enjoy this representative capacity.
A volume with which they claim to comply, since among their members they have large representative organizations of SMEs such as FENADISMER (transport), COAG (agriculture), AFELIN (cleaning) UATAE (self-employed) ANPIER (energy), and territorial organizations of the importance of PIMEC (Catalonia), PIMEEF, PIMEM, PIME Menorca, (Balearic Islands), CES (Salamanca) or CEL (León), together with more than 20 sectoral and territorial organizations.
“From Labor they answered us that they did not have regulations or the necessary instruments to carry out this count”, confesses José María Torres, president of Conpymes. “In addition, they recognized that the organizations that have been representing businessmen in Spain in a democracy do so by presumption of this representativeness. And in some sectors it happens that these organizations do not cover even 5% of companies or workers”, he adds.
Given the refusal of the Ministry, this entity presented an appeal accompanied by all the necessary documentation to prove the representativeness that the law considers necessary, but did not receive a response in the following three months of which it had a period to do so. The way to reverse this administrative silence on the part of Conpymes has been to present a contentious-administrative lawsuit before the National High Court.
“It’s embarrassing, because I’ve been calling the Ministry of Labor every week since November so that Yolanda Díaz receives us, and they can’t find any time to attend to us,” laments Torres, who finds no reason for such a rejection, taking into account that her position regarding to aspects such as collective bargaining is quite far from that of other employers’ associations, with whom the Government has not always managed to reach an agreement. “I managed to meet with the economic vice president, Nadia Calviño, to whom I told her that our claim is fair and legal, and that we are not asking for any favor, but rather that the law be followed,” he adds.
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
In Spain, the Spanish Confederation of Small and Medium Enterprises (Cepyme) is the voice of small businessmen within the social dialogue. However, in the opinion of the president of Conpymes, its integration within the CEOE prevents it from acting “with its own voice and independence”. In addition, according to Torres, that there is only one organization that globally represents all companies “is an international anomaly.”
It is not the first time that a confrontation has occurred as to which organization should hold the representativeness of a group of companies. In Catalonia, the employers’ associations Pimec and Fomento del Trabajo – the main business organization, and attached to CEOE – agreed in 2019 that both would carry out dialogue work at the negotiating tables for the next ten years. Both dragged a conflict that went back twelve years ago, and in which the courts also mediated. “There were up to eight judicial processes until in one of them the judge determined that it was necessary to verify this representativeness by counting, and that is where Fomento backed down and accepted it,” recalls Torres. “It is the path we are willing to take if necessary,” says Torres.
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