National framework agreement for the commerce sector

Fragmented collective bargaining in the commerce sector has led to multiple agreements for different subsectors and levels. Consequently, unions and employer organisations have signed a National Framework Agreement of the Commerce sector (AMAC) which establishes the structure of collective bargaining. This will mean creating specific commissions to develop a common national framework on certain issues. The agreement will affect 1.5 million employees.


Collective bargaining in the commerce sector has traditionally been fragmented, with multiple agreements concluded for different subsectors and at different levels (regional, interprovincial, provincial). The last national agreement was signed in 1996 and it reformed the collective bargaining regulation of 1994 which transferred certain matters, previously regulated by the Workers’ Statute, to collective bargaining.

Since then no other national agreement has been concluded, although the biggest unions have frequently underlined the need for an umbrella agreement to create a regulatory framework for all commerce sector employees.

Scope of agreement

An agreement was signed on 15 December 2011 by the Federation of Commerce, Catering Trade, Tourism and Gambling section of the General Workers’ Confederation (CHTJ-UGT); the Federation of Commerce, Catering Trade and Tourism section of the Trade Union Confederation of Workers’ Commissions (FECOHT-CCOO); the Spanish Confederation of Commerce (CEC); the Federation of Commerce Enterprises of the Balearic Islands (AFEDECO) and the Association of Food and Distribution Enterprises of Madrid (La UNICA).

The agreement encompasses the whole commerce sector, with the exception of convenience stores which have their own national agreement and other subsectors such as metal, wood and bakeries which also have national agreements. It will be in force until 31 December 2013.

Content of agreement

The agreement permits collective bargaining at national, provincial and interprovincial levels and at regional and company levels. Some elements that must be addressed at national level in the future have already been assigned to the new collective agreement, covering, for instance: professional classification, probation periods, procedures for hiring staff, maximum annual working time, basic norms for risk prevention and health and safety, geographical and functional mobility of workers, vocational training, extra-juridical resolution of conflicts and gender equality. In order to develop some of these issues, four specific commissions have been created with the aim of adapting the sector to the Spanish juridical and social reality. They will cover:

  • gender equality;
  • vocational training;
  • health and safety in the workplace;
  • mediation and arbitration.

Company agreements will prevail over multi-employer agreements on matters concluded under Article 84.2 of the Worker’s Statute since the new legislative reform was enacted (ES1107011I). These include basic pay and pay supplements, overtime, working time and shift distribution, occupational categories, type of contracts and work–life balance measures. However, to limit the prevalence of company agreements on these issues, the social partners have agreed to introduce some additional requirements. Company agreements will therefore only prevail over multi-employer agreements on these issues in companies that have at least 500 employees, and which operate in two or more autonomous communities or in more than 50% of the provinces of a single autonomous community.

Finally, it is worth noting that the agreement has created a national observatory of employment and collective bargaining in the sector which will attempt to map all the collective agreements currently in force in Spain. The observatory will also draft technical reports on the content of collective bargaining in the sector.

Pablo Sanz de Miguel, CIREM Foundation

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