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 Portugal

Key Facts

Population10,542,398
Collective Bargaining Coverage 92%
Proportion of Employees in Unions 19%
Principal Level of Collective Bargaining

industry

Workplace Representation

union – works councils exist in theory but less frequently in practice

Board-level Representation

yes: state-owned companies

Company Board Structure

monistic

Sources: see individual country sections; where a range of figures has been quoted, the lower number has been taken

Trade Unions

Lack of precise data makes it difficult to give figures of trade union membership in Portugal and there is a large gap between the totals provided by the unions and other estimates. There are two main trade union confederations, the CGTP and the UGT, whose relationship was initially marked by conflict rather than co-operation but has now improved. Trade union structures are complex with around 400 autonomous individual unions.

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Collective Bargaining

Negotiations at industry level, between employers’ associations and the unions, have in the past been the most important element in Portugal’s bargaining arrangements, providing a high level of collective bargaining coverage – partially through the extension of agreements by the government. However, the system has been under threat because of legal changes, which have only partially been reversed

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Workplace Representation

There are two channels of workplace representation of employees for most issues – through union representatives at the workplace and through an elected works council. However, in practice works councils are relatively rare. The rights of works councils are limited to information and consultation, with no opportunity to block management decisions.

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Board-level Representation

 

There are constitutional provisions giving Portuguese employees the right to elect representatives on the governing bodies of state-owned companies and other public bodies. However, these provisions have been implemented in a way which means that they only have a consultative role, and relatively few state-owned companies are covered. There is no employee board level representation in private companies.

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European-level Representation

All Portuguese members of bodies concerned with European Works Councils or European Companies are chosen in the same way – appointed by agreement with the works council and the unions, or by the unions if there is no works council, and they represent sufficient employees.

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Health and Safety Representation

 

The health and safety representation of employees in Portugal is provided by specially elected health and safety representatives. They should meet the employer at least once a month and have the right to be consulted in writing and in advance and in good time on a range of issues at least once a year. Joint employer/employee health and safety committees can be set up where there is a collective agreement to that effect.

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Financial Participation

The most important form of employee financial participation in Portugal is profit-sharing. Share ownership is less widespread. Basically, employee financial participation can be traced back to the privatization process, especially between the late 1980s and the mid-1990s. One of the policy objectives of the privatization process was to allow a wide participation of Portuguese citizens in the ownership of privatized firms.Today, employee financial participation no longer seems to be very important in the public debate.

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