I have a question about the current situation of the Coordinadora in Spain, the Spanish dockworkers union. My question is, have they been able to maintain their non-bureaucratic, assemblyist practice?
A bit of background. At the time of the big strike wave that smashed the old fascist unions after Franco's death, the longshoremen in Barcelona conducted a strike through a mass assembly. They bashed in the doors to the union hall owned by the fascist union & seized it. Although that strike was for re-instatement of a docker who was a CP member, members of the CNT reportedly gained dominant influence over the movement. They persuaded the longshoremen to continue the assembly as a union. This was how the Coordinadora federation was formed, with autonomous local assemblies in each port. They followed the old CNT practice of attaching the national coordination committee to a locality, and thus having the workers in that locality elect it.
When the system of government established bargaining councils were established, they followed the practice of those sections of the CNT who eventually became the CGT. That is, they participated in the union elections. But they did not allow their elected delegates to receive the pay provided by employers & the state under the Spanish collective bargaining system. They are required to give the pay to the union. They did not want members to seek election for careerist motivations. They also had, as of the '80s, no paid positions whatsoever in the local port unions. The only paid position in the union was the national coordinator....a position that was rotated.
From what I had heard back in the '80s I gather they decided not to affiliate to CNT or CGT because they did not want to be drawn into factional disputes which would break the unity of the assemblies.
I do know that in the 2006 union elections in Spain the Coordinadora received 80 percent of the vote of dock workers in Spain. I also know that in recent years they have periodically paralyzed the ports in strikes. I believe the other 20 percent of votes in union elections has mainly gone to the Workers Commisssions & UGT. What I do not know is the degree to which they've been able to maintain the assemblyist control & absence of paid bureaucracy.