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Spanish trade union CCOO sues Decathlon for violation of the right to freedom of association

By Jaime Martinez


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Decathlon store Credits: Decathlon

The confrontation between the management of the multinational sports company Decathlon in Spain and the Spanish trade union Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) has not eased at all, but rather intensified. On 3 April, the union filed a lawsuit against the sports company for violating the right to freedom of association.

Just a few weeks ago, Decathlon was ordered by the Supreme Court to correct the wage differences between the two groups of employees retroactively until May 2022, due to wage discrimination in the treatment of part-time employees compared to the working conditions of full-time employees. The CCOO has now filed another lawsuit following the judgement.

The company is accused of violating the right to freedom of association of its employees and preventing the normal development of trade union activities within the company, for example by denying delegates access to information and documents necessary for the protection and improvement of employees' working conditions. More worryingly, the company is retaliating against CCOO union delegates at Decathlon.

For the union, this is "systematic behaviour on the part of Decathlon" that is intended to prevent alternative unionisation and represents a clear attempt by the management to further promote the union SGICD (Sindicato Grupo Independiente de Colaboradores de Decathlon) as the majority among the employees. The union had "tried to hold a dialogue to put an end to this situation, but this was not possible".

"On the contrary," CCOO said in a statement, "the Decathlon group continues to develop harmful practices towards our union members," so that "in particular, CCOO delegates at Decathlon receive the worst schedules, changes in assigned tasks and shifts," while "they are prevented from entering the workplace to exercise their union functions," among other coercive measures.

"CCOO deeply regrets the group's attitude towards our union's delegates and the fact that labour relations within the company must be regulated by a court," CCOO said. This is the result of a practice against which "a protective complaint has been filed today against the Decathlon company for violating the fundamental right to freedom of association".

Allegations of coercion and retaliation

To conclude the motives and causes that led the trade union organisation to file this complaint, the CCOO bases its accusation against the sports group on three main grounds. First, the claim that its actions impede the normal development of union activities; second, denying its delegates union credits; and third, evidence that CCOO delegates are made unable to increase their working hours or be promoted to new jobs with better conditions and pay.

According to the union, Decathlon's management practices "violated the rights to information, consultation and competence enshrined in Article 64 of the Workers' Statute", as the company "refused to systematically provide CCOO delegates with the requested documents and information".

As a result, Decathlon "violated and obstructed the right of this union to analyse the situation of the workers" and "to take measures to improve their situation". At the same time, it has refused to authorise or allow the CCOO to use the emails of all staff and, in response, to provide the union with "the necessary means to exercise the right to communicate and defend our association".

Regarding the second point, the CCOO was "denied the request to use union funds", which is "a detrimental measure against the fundamental rights of all Decathlon employees". Finally, the union is "aware of the impossibility of increasing working hours, being promoted or increasing our union funds simply because we belong to the CCOO".

All these circumstances and facts left the union with no better option than to go to court and file a lawsuit against Decathlon for violating the right to freedom of association. "Through the company's refusal to provide documentation and information on the working conditions of the workforce, the obstruction of CCOO's trade union activities, the denial of time credits and retaliation against CCOO's active union members and other practices," the CCOO concludes the lawsuit.

This article originally appeared on FashionUnited.ES. Translation and edit by: Rachel Douglass.

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